‘Sinister’ works, but fails to impress

Dave Steele

Dave Steele

By Dave Steele

True crime writer Ellison Oswalt is moving his family into a new home in hopes of reigniting his stagnant writing career.

In order to fuel his new work, Ellison chooses a house where the previous occupants were all hung in the back yard by an unknown killer.

During his research, Ellison comes across a box of home movies that seems to have belonged to the previous tenants.

Expecting nothing more than an authentic glimpse of the late family’s social life, Ellison is horrified by the true content of the films.

Each reel depicts the grizzly murders in first person through the eyes of the killer.

After going through all of the films, Ellison puts together a string of serial murders that all have one thing in common: The entire family is killed except for the youngest child.

With these missing children in mind, Ellison believes he has finally struck non-fiction gold.

However, after combing through the footage a second time, he finds a snag that tears a hole right through his “true crime” perspective on the murders: Right before the killings take pace, a demonic figure appears in the peripherals of the assailant’s shot, conducting their every move.

“Sinister” is a bit of a toss up.

While the premise of “struggling author buys sketchy old house” may seem a bit cliche in a film like this, its various twists manage to keep the plot afloat.

Ethan Hawke’s performance is as heavy as the wool in his cardigan (that he never takes off) and can sometimes weigh down the chemistry.

Despite the flaws in “Sinister’s” plausibility, the slick production from “Paranormal Activity’s” Jason Blum manages to extract plenty of chills that are more disturbing than jumpy.

It was a bit frustrating that Blum didn’t fully utilize some of the newer techniques that made him famous, but it still got the job done.

It has all of the frustrations of a good horror flick, including the main character’s habit of neglecting light switches when things get creepy.

When all is said and done, viewers will be taken on the same ride that has worked for the genre for decades.

What sets “Sinister” apart from its counterparts is the powerful aura that its disturbing content brings to the table.

Long story short, “Sinister” works. It’s worth the ticket and will give audiences the scares they need, but don’t expect anything new here.