Review: Sinister

Oh, “Sinister.” Where do I even begin?

First and foremost, I want to let everyone know that I am a jumpy, neurotic, on-edge individual by nature. Oftentimes, my own reflections scares me (and those around me) so the fact that I am reviewing a “scary” movie may or may not serve to be accurate.

“Sinister” is a very specific kind of film. The kind that has a ton of jumps and twists and turns, but no real plot. Does this mean I kept my cool throughout the film and did not scream like a pre-pubescent girl in a Hello Kitty store? No. Did the movie get under my skin, severely screw up my mind, force me into therapy and make me lose sleep for days on end? Also, no.

“Sinister” ratings were 100 percent fresh on Flixster for weeks — awesome for a horror movie. All of a sudden big-time organizations began to review it and, thus, its scores dropped tremendously. But, I can see why.

In “Sinister” a crime writer named Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) uproots his family to move to a house where a family was hung in their own backyard, so he can crack the crime, find the man responsible and bring justice to the deceased family. He’s such a hero.

First of all, only in a horror movie would this logic make sense: 5 families have been killed in a string of murders leading up to the front door of this new house in the boonies. Moving day.

I digress. Horror movies are not supposed to be logical. If they were, Ethan Hawke would have had the sense to turn on a damn light.

Throughout the family’s time there, Oswalt begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together and he realizes all the murders were committed by the same man and in each murder the killer lures one of the children from the family into his creepy clan for a lifelong, soul-sucking field trip.

Super fun.

At first, “Sinister” had me. I was all in. Lead me by the hand into the creepy backyard and I’ll go.

Then, throughout the movie, my interest started to wain. While I was still screaming at every glass that dropped or every life-threatening creak in the staircase, the parts of “Sinister” that would have stuck — the parts that can really make goosebumps happen — stopped happening.

The most interesting and captivating scenes were the ones with a character named Professor Jonas (Vincent D’Onofrio) who gave Oswalt background on this Pagan god character named Bughuul, or as the children lovingly call him, Mr. Boogie (Nicholas King). The scenes made the story understandable and made the character of Bughuul much more threatening and real.

The plot truly seemed to just dump off toward the end. I thought there was going to be more detail, but all we get is a feeble attempt at a plot wrap-up via a phone call from a cop. We tripped and fell on our faces right before the finish line.

While I didn’t appreciate the complete plateau and eventual downfall of of the plot, there is one aspect of the end that I appreciate.

SPOILER ALERT: I am no going to discuss the end and the one part of it that I respected.

The long and short of it is, the ending is stellar. Not because of character development or anything of the like. It’s stellar because it depicts something quasi-real. It does not adhere to the horror movie law that everyone in the film makes a clever getaway and is safe from harm for all eternity.

Sometimes everyone comes out of the movie unscathed and lives happily ever after, free of demon presence. Other times, they do not — which is why I appreciate the ending so much. Sometimes, the killer wins, wipes out another family and that’s just how it goes. Everyone dies. Much appreciated.

Again, the plot at the end completely drops off–probably because everyone dies. I don’t appreciate the filmmakers giving up the ending, but I do appreciate the realism of it. I think I would have been left feeling cheated if the family found a way out of Mr. Boogie’s line of creepy fire.

I can’t write this review without mentioning Ethan Hawke. The man KILLS IT. Figuratively, anyway. I have never been so convinced of a performance in a horror movie in all of my 21 years. I genuinely believed he was terrified and about to crawl out of his skin the entire film. This may have been the only consistent part of the movie.

Ultimately, the film was great for about an hour. Of course there are still scream-worthy parts up until the end, but those are triggered by a natural reaction to something jumping out at you, not by genuine fear. But still, it’s practically a cinch if you’re trying to get some cuddling in on the first date.

You’re welcome.

★★

★★★

About Sydney Holmes
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