Horror movie parents – you’ve got to love them. If they’re not chasing you through a hedge-maze, they’re making you move to the scene of a quadruple homicide to research their next book.
Hungry for his next hit, true crime writer Ellison (Ethan Hawke) moves his unbelievably supportive and oblivious wife and children into a house where the previous family was found hanging from a tree in the back yard. After discovering reels of footage showing the family’s murder, he doesn’t dial 911, but keeps on watching.
Ellison’s yearning for fame proves his undoing as he begins to see a ghostly face in a film of yet more family killings. This face belongs to Bagul, a pagan deity who supposedly eats the souls of children and lives in any image of himself. Well, it is called Sinister, not Hugs And Puppies.
Sinister elegantly blends traditional cinematography with found footage, and Ellison’s whiskey-soaked decline from hack writer to paranoid voyeur sleeping with a baseball bat by his side is brought to life brilliantly thanks to Ethan Hawke’s convincingly haunted performance.
Director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) provides plenty of jump-out-of-your-seat moments. However, Sinister doesn’t have the long-lasting bite as other found footage horrors like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity. A few nights later and Bagul will remind you more of an ex-member of Slipknot than an evil child-devourer.
Sinister’s chief strength is the uncomfortably voyeuristic experience it puts you through with some good old fashion shudders. It’s not the most original premise, but has some solid performances and genuinely disturbing moments nonetheless.