(warnings, spoilers might be present ahead).
I have always been a sucker for horror movies. The men in my life havent ever been able to figure out this twist in my otherwise boring personality. Dad would try and ban them, and when I got old enough to protest and whine and win him over, I was banned to my room while watching horror movies. The hubby doesnt have a clue why I would want to sit through a horror movie. He prefers the usual song and dance routine.
As a result, watching a horror movie on a 70 mm screen, for me, has always been a pipe dream. Except the one time when the colleages at work decided we all wanted to watch phoonk, but well, that was more of a comical attempt at horror if any - that doesnt count at all.
I make do with watching the crap they put up as horror on TV when no one is at home. I watch each movie with a foolish hope that "now I shall be scared", "now this shall live up to its genre" maybe the movies are bad, or maybe I have hardened over the years.
Exorcist, the Exorcism of Emily Rose, Omen and a few J-horror movies probably are among the few movies that can call themselves belonging to the genre.
Sinister uses found footage with a twist. Instead of jerky random shots seemingly edited from 36 hours worth of film to 90 hours, the footage here, is found by the protagonist. The protagonist (Ethan Hawke) who is looking for his lost 15 minutes of fame trying to write a book that will get him everything that a writer dreams of, movie rights, interviews and of course millions of dollars in royalties.
Combining elements of mystery and horror, it is restrained horror, each scene stepping up to a higher crescendo.
I hate movies that call themselves horror by putting in a couple of screaming bimbos, and a few brawny retard hunks who get their skulls slpattered all over the walls. It isnt horror, it just a snuff film. This movie keeps the scare to the protagonist, the emotional ripples are felt by the family, each in a different manner, the relationship with the spouse, the escalating night terrors of the elder kid, and the silent horror of the younger kid; the main torch wielding and looking down dark corridors and getting scared is left to the dad, who fulfills his role of being scary to the Tee. I would have loved to see the "deputy so & so" angle a little well explored, but cant say I was too unhappy about him being just a minor cog in the wheel who puts the final puzzle into place, just seconds before it all goes to town.
A letdown would be a predictable plot - missing children after each family murder usually implies the child performing the gruesome act under some supernatural influence. Moving into a house where past murders have taken place, is standard horror movie plot frame; and I wonder if there is some sort of a dummy's guide to writing horror movies from which all script writers pick up their scripts. Other people trying to rationalise the fears of the protagonist, a screaming wife asking to get out the house; children wandering around at night - all predictable.
The challenge though, would be to take a predictable plot, and use an already used to death technique and keep the viewers at the edge of their seats, and Sinister, definitely manages to get there. The background score makes sense, and the brilliant cinematography that moves with the protagonist and helps the viewers understand his escalating sense of unease and then fear, helps elevate the plot.
Overall, a 3.5 out of 5 it is