An Evil Spirit Living in Film: Sinister is a Creepy, Well Produced Horror Movie

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Found footage helps a true-crime novelist realize how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity. (synopsis from www.imdb.com)

There aren’t many horror movies that are released in the theaters that I don’t end up frustrated or questioning the sanity of the people behind the camera. Typically, current horror usually doesn’t impress me or shock me (which is what I’m looking for). I have to say this: Sinister was an impressive horror movie that made me jump for all the right reasons, while completely avoiding the typical pitfalls of trendy horror movies and Hollywood cliches.

OK, Warning!!! *THERE MAY BE SPOILERS!!!*

An author who hasn’t had a hit in a decade is trying to get his next bestseller. Being a true crime writer who is a slave to living the lives of the victims, the author, played by Ethan Hawke, buys a house where the previous owners viciously murdered and moves his family in (doesn’t fill them in with the insignificant details that their new house was host to a murder scene).  True-crime novelist Ellison Osborne (Ethan Hawke) moves into the same house as the murdered family with his wife, Tracy (Juliet Rylance), and their two children Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario). Ellison uses the murders as the basis for his new book. Supposedly, there were five members in the family, and one of the children went missing after the murders. While moving in, he finds a box containing a Super 8 camera and a bunch of reels of film that look like home movies.

During Osborne’s research behind the killings that occurred at this property, he begins to watch the films and finds that there is more going on than just a criminal event. He finds  a series of crimes that he believes are related due to similar characteristics. Identical symbols are identified at each mass murder location, and the same MO is found. All of the family members are horribly murdered except for one child. These children are never see again.

Enter Bagul (or Baagul), the eater of children. Bagul is a deity who lives through images that are captured of him.

That’s about as far as I want to get into the plot.

To just hit what I didn’t like and get it out of the way, there were two items that somewhat pulled me out of the full experience. The first issue I had was with the lighting. Even in the bright parts of the day, the interior of the house was way too murky and dark. I had a difficult time in tracking exactly what was going on. My other issue had to do with a continuity problem that involves who was shooting the home videos. The end of the movie makes it seem like it was one person, but there was no way for that person to be filming the home video portions at the beginning of the film. I don’t want to get into it any more than that.

What did I enjoy? The 100% realistic reactions that Ethan Hawke had to weird or unusual occurrences in his home. He reacted the way anyone would, even to the point of investigating weird noises. I know that everyone yells at the screen when people go check out the sound of footsteps in other movies, but seriously, who doesn’t? I know I do. I loved his reaction to just “normal” sounds. His fearful reactions made me jump. I found myself so immersed in the movie that at one point I had to make myself take a breathe.

The story itself seemed fairly original to me. The concept of a demon like creature who feeds on the souls of children isn’t something that I can remember seeing (and I’m pretty sure I would remember a plot like that). The deaths were original and traumatic, but the majority of the bloodshed happened off-screen. This wasn’t a torture porn and gross out flick. It was all about the scares, the thrills, and the sicking feeling in the viewer’s heart that nothing in this movie is going to end well.

There was a welcome amount of comic relief when one of the local police officers visits our author. I don’t think I’ve ever saw puppy love in someone’s eyes before. It was great. One of my favorite quotes by the officer was: “Well snakes don’t have feet so you wouldn’t have heard it walking”. He added the perfect amount of goofiness to the movie that lifted the movie out of complete grimness and fright.

I also appreciated that the trailers and previews I saw did not ruin all of the scariest parts. The trailers all seemed to focus a lot of this image of the boy erupting from a cardboard box, which actually had very little to do with the final production.

I really enjoyed this film. If I had to grade it, I would give it an 8 out of 10. It provided the audience with the perfect mix of an engaging cast, good acting, great plot, and a creepy villain. Bagul is coming to get you. First, he’ll make one of your kids run you over with a push mower, but he will come for you all.

Take a peak at the trailer here:

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