Seriously lacking some Sinister Moments
Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Most critically acclaimed horror films are packed with multiple plot lines haunted by one ominous villain. In Sinister, lead actor Ethan Hawke (Brooklyn’s Finest) overtakes all chance for other character development, leaving the film without enough boo for the buck.
Ellison Oswalt (Hawke) is a true-crime novelist searching for his next murder mystery when, financially in a rut, he moves his family into the home of a recent crime scene. Nine months before Oswalt and his family moved in, another family was hung in the backyard with their youngest daughter missing and now presumed dead.
Oswalt dedicates himself to tracking down the missing daughter, but instead ends up encountering a Pagan deity, Bughuul, who feeds on the souls of children. The deity, referred to as Mr. Boogie, appears in a series of Super 8 home movies featuring the murders of various families since the ’60s.
When Oswalt accidently spots Boogie in the background of the movies, Boogie begins to gather strength. The deity lives in his Super 8 image and the more conscious Oswalt is of Boogie, the more power Boogie gains. He attains a portal into the human universe and overtakes his victims.
Although Boogie has great importance in the film, his time on screen is surprisingly limited to a total of about three minutes.
Instead of horror, Sinister somehow fell into the psychological thriller category. Oswalt struggles as the subject of Boogie plagues his conscious into delirium.
While Hawke plays a convincing broke novelist bordering on alcoholism, he is the only character who gets any serious screen time. Viewers witness his progression from decent dad struggling for another big hit in the book business to paranoid man holding a bat in the backyard.
He neither eats nor sleeps.
Hawke flawlessly dissociates from the world and emotionally collapses.
All other actors show up long enough to give Oswalt a toe-stubbing dilemma or small “eureka!” moment, but their characters are rushed, and their appearances become little more than a moot point in the plot. It’s an “All Hawke, All the Time” show.
The movie also climaxes too early, about a half-hour into the 110-minute film. The Super 8 films are the real scare so there is nothing left to anticipate once Oswalt finishes watching them. Moviegoers are then forced through an hour-long Hawke-time conclusion.
Boogie can’t even boogey down with his bad self because Hawke hogs every shot.
Sinister did have a few genuinely frightening scenes when showing the gruesome human death and carcass scenarios. The use of Super 8 film was brilliant. The technology is old and unfamiliar, and the film itself can only play in a disturbing, sporadic texture that aids in its morbidity.
Sometimes using the home movie method to strike fear doesn’t work, but Sinister was able to pull it off. Each murder had a twist that made it unique, and the movie itself opens on one of these Super 8 clips, which haunts the audience throughout the film.
Let’s just say the last of the Super 8 clips, labeled Lawn Work, is enough to make anyone gag.
The soundtrack was another redeeming quality of the film’s performance. Attributed to Christopher Young (The Rum Diary), the music was wonderfully original and snipped perfectly into the proper movie moments. As sound scoring goes, a definite 10 out of 10. It saved the movie, bumping it to an above average experience. Artfully delicious for the ears, and a great success.
All in all, Sinister is a movie better left for Redbox – not a good Halloween horror choice to get the spooky season in session unless it’s for the soundtrack. Jason Blum, the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious, just couldn’t quite get this one right.