The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

Sinister: Loud noises and creepy found footage in a nice mix

with 18 comments

Sinister, filmBAM!

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.

Average horror
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

filmspanarna

I watched Sinister in company with my good friends in the Swedish film blogging network Filmspanarna. Here’s what the others made of it:

Deny Everything (eng)
Fiffis Filmtajm
Filmitch
Jojjenito
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord

Written by Jessica

December 12, 2012 at 8:00 am

Posted in Sinister

18 Responses

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  1. BAM!
    Good choice of word! It was a great deal of BAM in this movie and I thought they worked well every time. 🙂

    Fiffi

    December 12, 2012 at 8:53 am

  2. Great write-up as always Jessica. You know my feelInge on it and again it looks like we share a similar opinion. 🙂

    Mark Walker

    December 12, 2012 at 9:03 am

    • Thanks Mark. Yes, I think we echo each other’s sentiments on this one.

      Jessica

      December 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm

  3. I don’t get it? You were scared shitless but didn’t enjoy it? I haven’t seen the Orphanage yet so I can’t compare them but to me this is one easily one of the most scariest films I’ve ever seen in a cinema and I don’t care what means it uses to take me there its just brilliant.

    Joel Burman (@joelburman)

    December 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

    • 1. I wasn’t scared shitless.
      2. I did enjoy it though it’s not a 5/5 in my book. It doesn’t stick out enough for that; it isn’t that memoreable. This doesn’t mean it’s bad. I think it’s fine. Just not extraordianary.
      3. I think The Orphanage is far superior to this film.

      Jessica

      December 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

  4. Yes, the sounds were a very vital part of this movie. And, as you describe, there was a good mix between oldfashioned jump scares and more mental scares. I am enough of a horror movie buff to not care about the origins of my palpitating heart. And the first jump scare (the cardboard box-scene)… Man, that was scary as shit!

    Sofia

    December 12, 2012 at 10:21 am

    • Yes the Cardbox scene – forgot about that one. That scene was scary and the f.f films. Otherwise it was the high sounds, in other words not true terror and fear. I liked the movie, well crafted and fairly orginal story.

      filmitch

      December 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

      • I think you and I are closest among Filmspanarna in our rating of this film.

        Jessica

        December 12, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    • I can imagine you enjoy the film even more as a horror movie buff, worrying less about questions such as if sound scares are as good as other types of scares.
      I thought it was scary enough and absolutely fine, though not great.

      Jessica

      December 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm

  5. Very much in the same boat as you, Jessica. Though, this is coming from a horror film fan. The cheap scares that made you jump frustrate me. Like you said, the real chill in a well crafted horror film should come from a growing sense of something dark going on, like in The Orphanage.

    Completely agree with you on the found footage elements of the film. They were perhaps the most effectively scary parts of the film for me.

    Jaina

    December 12, 2012 at 11:51 am

    • Yes, I think I value the “real” chills higher than cheap sound tricks. But the found footage was creepy. All in all it’s absolutely ok.

      Jessica

      December 12, 2012 at 10:58 pm

  6. I wanted to check this out but missed it. From what you’ve written it sounds like how I felt about The Woman in Black, a decent mix of jumps and unease, although I do agree that The Orphanage absolutely nailed it. I do also find found footage stuff creepy. Not quite the same but the video in The Ring nearly bloody traumatised me. The rest of the film was so-so but the actual video was freaky!

    Terry Malloy's Pigeon Coop

    December 12, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    • I haven’t seen The Ring, neither of the versions. Perhaps I should now as I’m approaching the horror genre more than I used to. I think Sinister is a fine option to catch up on DVD or VOD when you get the chance. It’s not something you can’t miss, but I don’t think it will disappoint you.

      Jessica

      December 12, 2012 at 10:59 pm

  7. I agree found footage bit was really cool, I’m always freaked out when they use this in movies. I’d say it was average too but comparing to the recent ridiculous horror movies this one is really a nice surprise.

    sati

    December 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    • To be honest I don’t watch all that many horror movies and I’m probably blissfully unawear of how much crap there is out there. So if you’re strict, it’s probably above average. But since I’m picky in what movies I watch, it ends up with an average rating for me.

      Jessica

      December 12, 2012 at 11:02 pm

  8. I think that if you have a chance to see it in a cinema you should go for it. Makes for a better experience especially when seeing horror. I don’t think the scares are cheap. They would be if it only was a loud noice and nothing else but in Sinster I thought they created a great atmosphere leadning up to the scare. The scare was just like icing on a cake. 😉

    You should really see The Ring (I prefer the remake, but both are good). It’s a beatiful, eerie film… full of jump scares. 😉

    Jojjenito

    December 13, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    • Maybe I will. Horror is not what I watch most, but once in a while I’m up for a scare. Though I prefer the scares to be more of the psychological kind than coming from jumping to sound effects which makes me feel as if I was running a cheap ghost train at an amusement park.

      Jessica

      December 14, 2012 at 7:45 am


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