Sinister (2012) – 4/5

Terrible first act gives way to a pretty scary, nightmarish film that gets progressively darker and more disturbing as it goes along until you find yourself by the end sobbing softly in a corner wishing you’d prepared yourself a bit more mentally before entering the theater. Or maybe that was just me. But man, what a twisted ride. Sinister indeed, har har. And the acting too is pretty damn good for a horror film, mostly from Ethan Hawke who I’m starting to think is somewhat underrated as an actor, and from the little long-haired kid who doesn’t do a whole lot but is nonetheless quite convincing whenever he’s on-screen. Everyone else was okay to terrible, but Hawke’s performance is what really drives the film.

Like I mentioned earlier, the beginning of this film is god awful. Cheesy, clichéd, stupid, full of boring, obvious exposition and terrible dialogue. It almost lost me, frankly. But once that crap is over with, it picks up. And that’s when things really start going to hell, but in a good way. The thing is scary. Some cheap scares, sure, especially in the middle, but there’s a lot of genuine terror here too, mostly from the “home video” scenes, especially the one involving **SPOILERS** a lawnmower. **END SPOILERS** Man. It was the only one I hadn’t had sort of spoiled for me from the trailer, and it’s arguably the most disturbing of the lot at that particular moment in the film. Sick, creative stuff. And most of it isn’t even that graphic or gory, just unnerving. And it works. The story is also pretty creative; there’s a really engaging mystery established in the second act that’s resolved in quite the unexpected way by the end. At least, in a way I didn’t see coming at all.

I also really enjoyed the cinematography. It’s dark and spooky, but also strangely beautiful at times, especially the scene where **SPOILERS** Hawke is walking around his house at night, unaware that the ghosts of several dead children are following his every move. **END SPOILERS** It’s creepy, but also strangely, horrifyingly beautiful, and quite cinematic. I can’t remember the last time a horror movie had a scene that just oozed cinema like this. And the music throughout too is this weird mix of tribal and traditional, and comes in at the strangest of times. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s usually always interesting and strange and unique. Very well done.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. Sure, it’s flawed, especially the first half hour or so, and the story, though creative and interesting, is a bit shallow and full of holes, but the acting is strong, the cinematography is great, the plot is mostly unpredictable, and, most importantly, the film is scary, even downright terrifying at times. And disturbing. And the ending **SPOILERS** was one of the darkest freaking things I’ve ever seen, and so unexpected, and gory, Christ. And quite creative. Wall painting indeed. I also enjoyed how the poster for this film sort of spoils it for you, if you know it’s coming, which I guess you wouldn’t if you hadn’t seen the film beforehand, thus negating the “spoiler” aspect of it. It’s a spoiler for people who’ve already seen the film, I guess. A post-spoiler, if you will. Very clever. **END SPOILERS** Anyway, good, terrifying stuff.

Recommended, though be warned, it’s very disturbing at times. But much, much better than most of the horror films that come out of Hollywood. Go see it!

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