Last weekend, I traveled to the Paradiso and purchased a ticket for the supernatural horror film, Sinister.
A good friend of mine informed me that it would be “a great horror flick to check out.” That advice, along with the fact that James Blum (Insidious, Paranormal Activity) produced the movie, finalized my decision to watch it.
The movie was released on Friday, Oct. 12th and stars Ethan Hawke (Training Day, Hamlet, Assault on Precinct 13), Juliet Rylanche, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D'Onofrio (Brooklyn’s Finest, Full Metal Jacket, Men In Black), and others. Besides Hawke and D'Onofrio, I wasn’t familiar with the cast.
The film centers on Hawke’s character, who plays a true-crime novelist named Ellison Oswalt. He, along with his attractive, English wife Tracy (Rylanche) and their two kids Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario ) and Ashley (Clare Foley), move into a home in which the previous residents were murdered. Initially, Oswalt is the only one who has knowledge of the murder.
Minutes into the movie, the murder (the family of four was hung from a tree in the backyard) is displayed across the screen in Super 8 camera-style footage.
That captured my attention instantly. I hadn’t done much research on the movie’s plot, so that built up intrigue.
As the movie progressed, I found out the significance behind the murder: Oswalt is using it as the basis for his latest novel.
Oswalt finds a box in the attic labeled “home movies” that has a projector and several reels of footage inside. He views the reels throughout the film. Each reel, which has its own title, shows families being murdered in various ways — having their throats slit, being drowned, hung, burned to death, and having their heads run over with a lawnmower.
The footage made me think about the harsh reality that real people have probably been murdered in similar fashions. Nevertheless, I was curious to see what would happen next in the movie.
As Sinister continued, Oswalt began to analyze the footage, taking note of things that caught his eye. He noticed a bizarre, demonic face appearing in each reel.
When I saw the dark, demonic figure for the first time, it spooked me a little bit. It just looked evil. It also built up more suspense, and I stayed glued to my seat for the bulk of the film.
As Oswalt continued observing the films, he also noticed a strange symbol painted near each of the murders, and that there’s a young child missing in each of the families. With the help of a deputy (Ransone), Oswalt investigates the murders to determine if they’re related.
He’s also put in contact with a college professor (D'Onofrio) who specializes in religion. The professor informs him that the demonic figure in the home movies is a pagan deity named Bughuul.
Known as an eater of children's souls, Bughuul is presumed to be responsible for influencing young children to murder their families and then travel off with him to a different world.
I felt a few chill-bumps when Oswalt and the professor discussed the demonic being. I thought he was going to appear out of the air and start annihilating people. Unfortunately, this DIDN'T happen.
What DID happen was a series of creepy events inside the house: The film projector starts mysteriously running in the middle of the night. Dead children play a game of hide-n-seek through the house. Oswalt sees all five children who were missing during the time that their families were murdered viewing one of the home movies in the attic. This is also when Bughuul makes an appearance that frightens Oswalt and sends him falling through the floor of the attic.
After seeing a physical sighting of Bughuul, Oswalt becomes concerned for his family’s safety. He decides to burn the box of home movies, discontinue his novel, and move his wife and kids out the haunted house and back into their previous place.
A new beginning for the family?
Of course not! It wouldn’t be a true horror movie if that were the case. I must add that I personally would have been pissed off if the credits rolled after the family left the haunted house. The movie wouldn’t have been complete.
Oswalt makes a shocking discovery while in the house’s attic: the box of home movies that he burned at the previous home has made its way to the new house without a burn on it. The box also has an additional reel of film inside that’s labeled “extended endings.”
Of course Oswalt checks the new footage out. It shows the same murders as the past reels did, but this time the missing child from each of the families comes onscreen before disappearing. This implies that the kids are responsible for the slayings of their families.
It doesn’t stop there.
Oswalt receives shocking word from the deputy that there’s a link to all of the murdered families: they all lived in the same house where the hanging took place before they moved to new locations, which subsequently resulted in their murders. In other words, he basically informed Oswalt that he and his family were probably going to die and there was nothing they could do to avoid it.
Shortly after he’s provided the startling information from the deputy, Oswalt begins to feel weird from the “coffee” he was drinking and loses consciousness. When he comes to, he notices that he’s tied up and gagged. The same fate goes for his wife and son.
What about little Ashley??? Why isn’t she tied and gagged too??? Uhmm, it’s because little Ashley is the culprit that tied and gagged her fam.
She appears in the room where they’re laying with an axe and video camera in hand.
The next occurrence is pretty predictable but I won't spoil it for those who haven’t seen the film.
After the credits rolled, I left the Paradiso satisfied with Sinister’s performance overall. The murders weren’t as graphic as I would have expected, and the film had its dull moments here and there, but overall it was a well-created horror movie. Outside of Insidious, it was definitely one of the best scary movies that I’ve seen in a while.
Next up for me is Paranormal Activity 4. I wonder if it will knock Sinister out of the water? Only time will tell.