MV5BMjI5MTg1Njg0Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzg2Mjc4Nw@@._V1_SX214_AL_What’s it all about?

A true-crime writer finds a cache of 8mm home movie films that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose career dates back to the 1960s.

Sinister stars Ethan Hawke as said true-crime writer. He is a serious author. We know this because he wears a chunky cardigan with elbow patches and has his glasses on a cord hanging from his neck and is never too far from a bottle of whisky. He’s only slumming it with the whole true crime thing because no-one wants his fiction (he tells us this) and he had a huge success with his first true crime book but the follow-ups weren’t so hot and he is looking for that next big hit. So he moves his wife and kids into the home of a family who were murdered (hanged from a tree in their back yard – we see this right at the very beginning) and whose daughter is still missing. Of course he hasn’t actually told his own family this. So you know it can’t possibly end well.

Why did I want to watch it?

I like a good scary movie on a Saturday afternoon. This was made by the people who were behind Paranormal Activity (which I enjoyed) and Insidious (which I enjoyed a bit more).

What did I think of it?

It was actually much more fun than I thought it was going to be though full of the usual stuff you get in this sort of movie these days, and which Mark Kermode and others have described as the quiet-quiet-BANG school of horror (or horror for people who don’t like horror movies, which I think is a tad unfair).

But back to Sinister.

It’s well done, the production values are high, the cast is really good, the baddie is suitably creepy and there’s a whole thing going on that is cleverly done but the big reveal is really not that difficult to work out if you’ve watched more than two or three of this sort of domestic horror.

The best bits are of course not the ones designed to make you jump out of your seat but the quiet ones that sidle up and whisper in your ear. There are several of those and they work very well IMHO.

Things that stuck in my head:

  • I’ve never been much of an Ethan Hawke fan but I thought he was really good in this, playing an obvious part with enough flair that it doesn’t fall into cliche territory
  • I really liked Deputy So and So
  • why does no one ever put the lights on when investigating the obligatory disturbance in the night, especially in a house you haven’t lived in for very long so really don’t know your way around?
  • how cool the uncredited Vincent D’Onofrio cameo was

So very much of its type, but a fun experience nevertheless. I was never scared but I was unsettled and creeped on a couple of occasions and that was good enough for me.