Saturday, 13 April 2013

HFA Review No. 4 - Sinister

A review I did for the site Horror Fans Asylum Reviews.

Hello everyone and welcome once again to Horror Fans Asylum Reviews. I am the orderly at the Asylum, and any new Inmates shall be sent to the ROOM to be processed by the diabolical Head Doctor!

My name is Michael and I am also the appointed movie reviewer for the site. My gibbering can also be heard at Left Field Films or at my Facebook page!

This weeks review is on “Sinister” (2012), directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose).

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer who is trying to recapture the success of a previous book he had written called “Kentucky Blood”, a book that helped solve a crime and highlight discrepancies in the police department. The books he has written since then have been flops, and put people in the public at risk (which has made him even more unpopular with the police).
He moves into a house in a small town to write his new book based on the tragic murder of a family by hanging, and the disappearance of the daughter of that family. The local police chief makes it clear he isn’t welcome in the community and will not receive any help from the police for his new book. He also says that moving into THAT particular house is in very bad taste.

The thing is, he has moved into the home of the murdered family, and has failed to make this little detail known to his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance), his son Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario), and his daughter Ashley (Clare Foley).

While moving boxes into the attic, he finds a lone box in the centre of the room. He opens the box to find some Super 8 film reels which look like home movies, and a projector to play them.
He watches one of the reels and finds out it is actual murder footage of the family that used to live there. The film reels date way back to the 60′s and all show the murders of various families in different locations. Obviously they are all related, though he doesn’t know how?
While looking closely at the footage, a low quality image of a face  and a symbol seems to a be in all the films.

That’s where I’ll stop with the story. I hate spoilers!

I was looking forward to watching this due to hearing a lot of good things about it. I was slightly disappointed.

The film is an interesting take on conventional filming techniques to tell the main story, and convincing found footage for the home movie style murder scenes which can be genuinely creepy.
The problem for me is the jump scares that make up a lot of the film. Most of the time I find this to be a cheap trick that only works once doesn’t live up to repeated viewing. The film didn’t need this as the actors are good enough in their somewhat generic roles, the music is very well done and is effective at cranking up the tension, and the whole movie seeps with dread. The jump scares really did cheapen the film and made it more typically Hollywood, as if you need to be instructed to be scared.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes “Sinister” is a genuinely creepy film at times, I think most people will like it. There are plenty of scenes of people walking around dark hallways and rooms and you never know what’s going to happen. And the film feels like it goes into “The Shining” territory at times.

I think that possibly I’ve become a bit weary and cynical of recent horror. Hollywood horror is too safe for my liking, there isn’t anything particularly horrifying these days. That’s why I usually go for the older stuff.

That being said, in a nutshell, the acting is good though the characters are generic, the film has good atmosphere but relies on too much jump scares, the plot is somewhat original at least, but there is something missing.

I’ll give this film 3 needles out of 5.

Thank you all for spending time in the Asylum. Remember, once you’re an Inmate, you can never leave mwahahahahaha!!!

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