Sinister: Loud noises and creepy found footage in a nice mix
The sound was sharp, loud and sudden. I sensed how my body twitched and made a little jump up from the seat. My heart was pounding.
I was having a reaction. But what kind of reaction? Was this real fear? Was I scared, frightened and freaked by a skilfully crafted horror movie? Or was my body just responding automatically to outward stimuli, similar to how I pull away my hand if I’ve accidentally put it on a hot plate? My jumping reminded me of a horse panicking over a sudden movement in the trees. I was doing them same: preparing to flee the danger, as soon as possible, following the program in my genes.
Could I draw the conclusion from my physical response that it was a good horror movie?
I think it depends on who you ask. I can imagine there are film fans who really appreciate the jumps, gasps and screams of terror, accordingly rating horror movies after how many of those reactions they cause. As long as the film is scary, it doesn’t matter where the source of the scare is.
But I want something different from horror films. Recently I shared my love for The Orphanage. That love had nothing to do with the one or two jump scare scenes in the film. It came from the insight, which slowly crept upon me until I finally realized where this story was heading and had been going all the time: the creepy, chilling and immensely sad and dark truth.
If I would describe Sinister, it’s not one thing or another. There’s more to it than just cheap scares from loud noises in the attic in dark houses, but it’s got a far way to go before it reaches the depths of The Orphanage. So let’s call it “average”.
It’s well crafted, making good use of a number of classical horror tropes (evil pagan deity, mysterious signs marks, children that look innocent but are evil, haunted houses to mention a few), it’s sufficiently scary and it doesn’t put any unreasonable demands on you to use your brain.
In the middle of the story, in good old Stephen King style, is an author. After a previous success of a true-crime story, he’s now struggling to get another hit. As a part of his research for his next book he moves into a house which once was the scene for a horrible crime, lying about it to his family. In a box in the attic he finds a box of super 8 films with a gruesome content that gives him clues to his research but also brings him and his family closer to the danger.
What I liked best about this film was the found footage element. There’s something inherently creepy about found footage and with the eerie music added to it, I was pretty freaked out every time one of those clips came up.
Following my rant last week about how tired I am of whining, I won’t go into what I didn’t like about it. It’s enough to say that I don’t think it will stay in my memory all that long, but rather quickly dissolve and mesh into the memories of every other horror movie I’ve seen.
Don’t let that dissuade you from seeing it though. If my teenage daughter asks me for advice for something to watch with her friends a Friday night, I’ll point her to this one knowing it can’t go wrong.
Sinister (Scott Derrickson, US 2012) My rating: 3,5/5
I watched Sinister in company with my good friends in the Swedish film blogging network Filmspanarna. Here’s what the others made of it: