Found footage helps a true-crime author realise how and why a family was murdered in his new home, though his discoveries put his entire family in the path of a supernatural entity.
From the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious comes new horror film Sinister. Directed by Scott Derrickson, known for The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Exorcism of Emily Rose among other things, Sinister promised to be a good scare, as well as a horror film with a bit of integrity.
Perhaps the first half of the film lived up to these expectations, however halfway through it began to flag, and nothing really came to anything. Some of the footage, super 8 tapes found by Ellison (Ethan Hawke) in the attic of their new house, were harrowing and very dark. Seemingly idyllic home videos interrupted by harrowing scenes of murder, including a whole family hanging from a tree, and a slightly more gory back-garden lawn mower massacre. These home video style tapes were well constructed and very creepy, with the barely distinguishable face of the demon, or “Bughuul” who feeds from the souls of children. The grainy, old style of the footage adds to the creepiness, creating a fantastic atmosphere.
The music is probably the best part of the film; a pattern in producer Jason Blum’s films; Insidious’ score was probably the best part of the film, creating a tense and scary atmosphere. In horror, sound is fundamentally important, because to scare people properly you have to mess with all the senses, so in this instance Sinister is successful.
The imagery in parts is harrowing, however I found the emphasis on darkness frustrating; I just didn’t find it believable that the characters would wander around the house in total darkness all the time, and I found myself wanting to shout at the screen for them to turn the light on. Its common in horror films to have low-key lighting, but I felt that this ruined the believability of the film somewhat; on top of that it was a constant strain on the eyes!
Half way through the film fell down, and didn’t pick itself back up. The story became tenuous and hard to believe, and the Bughuul, whom Ellison had spent the whole time looking into came to nothing; we hardly saw it, and even when we did it wasn’t as scary as it could have been. I thought the concept was there, but it wasn’t quite pulled off. I was expecting much more.