Review: Sinister

Sinister – One helluva scare!
Kevin Millikin

Something has happened during the last couple years, mainstream horror films have not only made a comeback, but they’ve actually gotten good, too! For this, I’m thankful. I’ve never cared for the brash and in your face experience of gross out, balls to the wall torture porn films — with the exception of the first ‘Human Centipede’ and I am relieved to see them on the decline.

I mean seriously, think about it: The Last Exorcism, House of the Devil, Paranormal Activity, the Innkeepers and Insidious. Those flicks have provided me with some of the best scares in recent years. And as an avid horror buff, they’ve left me looking over my shoulder and kept me hesitant about closing my eyes at night.

Everyone was telling me about Sinister, it assaulted my face book and clouded the blog-o-sphere up until its release on video. So of course, I went into it thinking– yeah, I’m sure it will be as good as [Insert: Innkeepers/Insidious/etc.] and, well, I was wrong.

The movie was so much better.

I will admit, I’m a bit biased when it comes to movies where the central character is a writer. I instantly latched on to the character of Ellison Oswald, a failed true-crime writer whose fifteen minutes of fame is far behind and has left him grasping for his next big hit. His quest to rekindle his New York Times Bestseller status, has left his family is in tatters, having moved from city to city so he could follow the juiciest, bloodiest crimes.

They land, unknowingly to them into the center of one – when Ellison moves his family into the very house he’s writing about. Strange happenings begin to occur, starting instantly with the return of his eldest son’s night terrors.

Around this time, Ellison discovers a box of super eight movies stashed away in his attic complete with a projector. Setting it up in his office, he soon discovers that the reels contain the recordings of the very murder he’s writing about along with a few others, dating back to the 1960’s.

Though the methods differ — drowning (Pool Party ‘66), burning (BBQ ’79) and a starting lawnmower run over (Lawn Work 86’)  — a common denominator remains through them all. A family is murdered, while their child is never found.

Before long, Ellison becomes enamored by the tapes. His drinking comes into fruition as a string of paranormal occurrences unfolds around both him and his children.

While I won’t getting too far into the plot with the fear of giving too much away. Every scene – dialogue and image work diligently together to create a well-crafted web of suspense and ‘edge-of-your-seat’ nervousness with no fat or filler in between. They build steadily, gaining momentum as the film hurdles towards the final and unforgiving destination (also known as House Painting ‘12)

While the mythos of the lead villain, an ancient deity named Bughuul, draws heavily from that of the boogeyman — seen throughout the film as a child’s drawing entitled, “Mr. Boogie.” He remains 100% realistic and never traverses into campy territory.

The same could be said for the movie as a whole. It remains beautiful in every aspect. From the script, actors, direction and cinematography, they all come together to create a truly terrifying cinematic experience.

In the end, my only real regret is that I didn’t experience this in theaters.

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