Sinister is not your average horror film. It’s not a generic haunted house story from the Paranormal Activity hype that was short lived after a couple of sequels. It is something different, something genuinely scary and something fresh from an age of reboots and sequels.
Sinister starts off with a grainy 8mm video of a family being hung from a tree. This disturbing video sets the tone for the rest of the movie. After these events, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who is a true crime writer, moves into the house where the disturbing events happened. He keeps this a secret from his family and concentrates to write a book on the grisly events, waiting for his next big hit since his last one 10 years ago. As he explores the house, he finds some old 8mm video tapes in the attic. As he watches the video tapes, he comes closer to solving the murder case but also contending with the sinister figure; Baghuul.
The film does very well at building up tension. As soon as Ellison discovers and watches these disturbing video tapes, the ominous mood set by the beginning begins to build and build. Even though this is a horror, one could also say that this is a thriller, as Ellision delves deeper and deeper into the horrific murders trying to look for clues like an FBI agent.
Another thing I liked were the really disturbing 8mm video tapes. They start off with an innocent family occasion but ends in their horrific murders. The soundtrack is also very effective in creating this disturbed atomsphere. The use of these grainy homemade footage, like snuff films, reminded me of the Ring. The use of the disturbing footage in that film was just as effective as it was in this. There is one scene in the disturbing footage which was probably the most scariest bits of film I’ve seen in a long time.
The main antagonist is very secretive, and doesn’t show up a lot and I think this very good. It makes us, the audience, think of how the antagonist may be represented. That being said, the antagonist is seen in the homemade video tapes and resembles a Leatherface lookalike. Still creepy.
The premise for the film is very good, but I think I was only drawn in for the first half of the film. The second half doesn’t fully live up to that potential of horror movie greatness. The ominous build up is let down by a twist near the ending of the film which makes the film end on a bad note. The ending itself is not scary and let me down on my expectations.
Overall, I liked the film, the first half being pure horror whilst the second half was decent but didn’t leave a lasting impact on the viewer. The build up is great and the soundtrack only adds to the disturbed element. Hell, whoever came up with the idea of having snuff films in the movie gets my vote.