Editor’s Note: Sinister opens today in North American theatres. For an additional perspective on the film, read Ronan Doyle’s review.
When concerning yourself with a ghost movie, one should always wonder which next hot object is ripe for haunting. We’ve seen many frightful poltergeist activities emanate from classic traditional haunted houses, but evil spirits seem to have gradually moved to more obscure mediums such as the haunted book, haunted video tape, the haunted cell phone, or my personal favourite, the haunted lamp (see Amityville 4: The Evil Escapes). As technology grows, so does the possibility for spiritual invasion, and with that, the possibility for truly silly and preposterous scary ghost movies. Luckily, despite the haunting traveling to many different platforms, Sinister keeps its scares grounded and atmospheric. It takes ideas that might seem ridiculous, but packages them in such a way that you can’t help but get pulled in, or rather, dragged in by your heels kicking and screaming… and you will be screaming.
It takes ideas that might seem ridiculous, but packages them in such a way that you can’t help but get pulled in, or rather, dragged in by your heels kicking and screaming… and you will be screaming.
The film’s strength is in its carefully constructed scare moments. Most of the frights are hinged around a collection of 8mm home movies found by Ethan Hawke’s character, that depict the grotesque multiple murders of several happy-go-lucky families. These images will stay with you. The grain of the film harkens back to a time when the moving image was all about capturing truth, before digital trickery stole away our ability to trust it. It seems raw, more real, and therefore holds power of us as the viewer.
Contrasting the home movies is the stark reality of the family torn apart not only by the supernatural goings on, but also the stress of the father’s chosen profession; a true-crime novelist. Here’s yet another example of modern horror’s new found interest in punishing main characters whose motivations are less then pure. What drives this man? Certainly not love for his family, or his wife; he’s trying to regain the prestigious status years of failed books has taken away from him. In short, he’s looking to satiate his own vanity and in doing so, inevitably invites the horrors of his work to cuddle up in bed next to him.
Music in this film deserves a paragraph all its own. The score is as unique and disturbing as horror scores come nowadays. It’s a breath of refreshing graveyard air, thick with the taste of rotting blood. You’ll find no screeching strings, or howling horns, just a provocatively unnerving mix of notes and noises all brought together by a pulsing beat. It’s almost reminiscent of some classic Italian horror scores in terms of its relationship to the images it accompanies. There are the usual musical stings, but for the most part, the music is used as an added texture loosely following the action. It emphasizes the creep-out horror rather than the thrill. Coming from Christopher Young, the composer for such horror scores as Hellbound: Hellraiser II, The Dark Half, and Drag Me To Hell, it’s no surprise the music is so note worthy (I really enjoyed that joke).
Although the film does contain some lackluster moments, specifically when the ghosts in the house are revealed with particularly poor makeup, overall it’s an excellent way to brandish some goose bumps. It’s a look back into the horrors of the past and how artifacts of those brutally demented moments still have the power to reach out and destroy us. Let this be a warning, beware of the images contained within, for Mr. Boogie resides there.
[notification type=”star”]73/100 ~ GOOD. It’s a look back into the horrors of the past and how artifacts of those brutally demented moments still have the power to reach out and destroy us.[/notification]