Sunday, 28 October 2012

Sinister (2012) - Horror Film Review

This is getting silly now. Since watching Sinister earlier this evening the world has turned into a fearful place, the fear wont leave. Now sitting at my desk in Rotting Zombie HQ with all the lights on, a text message made me nearly fall off my seat backwards, everything is leading my heart to an early failure. Without a doubt Sinister is the most downright scary film I have ever suffered, never have I so wanted to leave a film than here. From start to finish my heart was in my mouth.

Controversial, struggling true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (superbly played by Ethan Hawke) moves to a new town with his wife and two kids to investigate a murder case where a family were discovered hanging from a tree in the back garden of their house, with the exception of the youngest child who had vanished. It just so happens the house Oswalt has chosen to live in while he writes the book he is working on is the very one and the same where the murders took place months previous. He discovers in the attic a box containing a projector and a set of film reels. His curiosity leads him to watch the Super 8 reels and discovers each one shows the brutal murder of a different family by an unknown assailant. Oswalt nearly calls the police to report the findings but his dream of writing a famous book (after a string of terribly received ones) stop him. As he gets more into his investigation stranger and stranger things start occurring in his house. Whoever had killed all these families now seems to be going after him.

The reason this film is so terrifying is due to the soundtrack. It builds up such terror and atmosphere that everything is turned into an endurance test. At times I thought of shielding my eyes but the knowledge that by far the scariest part of the film was the horror of the music, creeping terror. For example, each of the different montages of Super 8 murders had their own short totally messed up mini soundtrack playing, added a whole new layer of fear as did the build of and crescendo of the music for when the jump scares erupt.

The jump scares actually made me jump on many occasions, one in particular nearly had me shouting in fear, even when they are so obviously coming it still never failed to make my heart skip a beat. The lighting of the film is near non-existent. Normally with these types of films daylight brings with it periods of relief but not so here. 95% of the film takes place in the one location, the night scenes have Oswalt for whatever reason never turning on the damn lights, the most logical step I would do if I heard strange noises in the dead of night. Daytime meanwhile is nearly as dark, the rooms covered with thick curtains that barely let the light in.

Hawke is in every single scene in Sinister, this is very much an event shown from his perspective, he carries the film expertly bringing real flaws to his character of the writer searching desperately for his next big break at the cost of neglecting his family. Acting is all of a high standard, there are not many people in the film but all give solid performances.

I knew nothing about Sinister going in, I thought it was a demonic possession type film but instead plays out (at least initially) very much like The Strangers before diverting into more of an Insidious type vibe, subtly done. The more supernatural elements are also what brings the film down slightly. Spooky ghost children almost dancing around made me laugh, not cry. I didn't really like the look of the make up either on these children. The end twist of Sinister I figured out roughly 20 minutes into the film, it does not really do a good attempt at hiding it, so a later reveal by Deputy So and So (James Ransone nearly steals every scene he appears in with his subtle comedic banter) was not really even needed.

Sinister is a truly unsettling film that combines sound and visuals into a horrific combination. I do not know when I have last been as uncomfortable and yearning for a brightly lit room as I was in the dark cinema. Like Insidious I don't think I will ever wish to see Sinister again, it delivered horror, creeped me out, did it's job. Also like that film it again delivers a simple, yet well created story.



PurpleLuci said...

I am really looking forward to watching this now!! :) Great review, thank you! :)

Daniel Simmonds said...

Creeping terror. Though I guess you really do have to take into account just how much the cinema adds to the experience with surround sound and the large screen