Starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone. Written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill. Directed by Scott Dickerson. Produced by Jason Blum, Jeanette Brill, Bailey Conway, Gerard DiNardi, Jessica Hall, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Charles Layton and Rick Osako.
Something about Sinister seems an awful lot like The Ring. Home videos and the overall concept of murders being linked to them is an idea we were introduced to back in 2002 in Gore Verbinski's hit horror movie. It even has the same dreary feel and look, creating an identical atmosphere. What primarily differentiates this film, however, is the lack of fluidity in the writing.
Sinister tells the story of a once-famous author, Ellison Oswalt (Hawke), who moves his family into the same house where the murder he's researching took place. Having little luck with his writing career over the past ten years, he's hoping and counting on this project to be huge. His intuition tells him he's in luck when he stumbles onto something that not only gives him insight to the murder he's researching, but also links five other murders from across the country to it. As he investigates further, he has to choose between keeping his family out of danger and solving the case.
The film takes a substantial amount of time answering obvious questions and leading us to places that we already expected to end up, which would be easy to look past if it were entertaining or frightening in the mean time – but it simply provides us with a few jumpy moments and dark scenes. The sound and music, however, add a nice Southern eeriness and create the proper mood for this type of movie. Hawke, as usual, gives a perfectly stressful performance, which is well-suited for a horror film because it makes you feel a great deal of tension and anxiety.
While credit should be given to the filmmaker for going with an unexpected ending, the conclusion of the film sort of takes away from the entire story and leaves us feeling like nothing in the film was accomplished and that we've been cheated out of a proper and more fulfilling ending. It feels as though the back story to this concept could have been expanded on and given the movie a whole other dimension. —Rebecca Hillary