Produced by the team behind the Paranormal Activity franchise turned cash-cow, you would be forgiven for being sceptical about Sinister after the disappointment of Insidious which had so much potential before fizzling into being a forgettable shriek-fest. However, the one thing which is evident from Jason Blum’s latest project is that he knows how to work a good scare.
Although Insidious suffered from a drawn out and altogether unfrightening plot finale, Sinister’s frights continue throughout until the final reel has spun – even if it does have a few flaws.
This year’s supernatural jump-a-thon centres around true crime novelist, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), desperate for one last break at the big time. Moving into a town which is less than welcoming to cover the grisly murders of a family and uncover the truth about a missing girl. His discovery of seemingly innocuous home movies soon starts to dig away at something much bigger than he bargained for.
As Oswalt discovers more about the real circumstances of the family murders it soon becomes apparent that he may end up famous after all but not quite in the way he hoped or planned.
The film opens in disturbingly eerie fashion – devoid of music – and the focus on a gruesome silent movie ahead of the feature proper. It is these grainy and uncompromising clips which drive the plot of the movie forward and give the film a cold and gory brutality to make the audience squirm.
However, under the steady hand of director and writer Scott Derrickson, centred in Oswalt’s universe are the scares which will make hairs stand on end and eyes cower behind hands during Sinister. Hawke stars well as Oswalt – despite being clearly conscious of energy consumption with his refusal to ever turn on a light.
His long-suffering yet supportive wife Tracy is played out by the evocative Juliet Rylance who is in particularly fearsome and convincing form especially when giving her spouse a stern dressing down.
Making up the supporting cast are the cute yet oddly eerie children – Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) who turn in strong performances for their part.
Sadly though, the adept cast are let down by a frighteningly predictable plot which they are forced to act out.