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Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Oh the Horror!: Sinister (2012)
To expand his ever growing body of knowledge, Barbecue17 enrolled in a film appreciation class at his local college. He is posting copies of his class assignments pass the knowledge on to you.
Movie Thoughts by Barbecue17
The movie I watched: Sinister
It was directed by: Scott Derrickson
It was released in: 2012
Please briefly summarize the plot: True crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves his family to a small town to begin working on his next book about the murder of a local family of four and the disappearance of their youngest daughter. What Ellison fails to tell his family is that he has moved them into the murdered family's former home. While snooping around in the attic Ellison stumbles across a projector and five Super 8 film reels that each show a family being murdered in a different place and decade. As he works with a sheriff's deputy and a professor of the occult to try and connect the murders, Ellison and his family begin to experience inexplicable phenomena that point towards something far more malevolent than a serial killer.
How is this film culturally/ historically significant?: The film was produced by Jason Blum who has been involved with a number of successful horror films and franchises over the past decade including Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Purge, and The Town that Dreaded Sundown. The film has a sequel now as well (I haven't seen it yet), so perhaps this movie has launched a new franchise? The director, Scott Derrickson, is also going to be directing Marvel's Doctor Strange film.
What genre would you place this film in? Horror/ Supernatural/ Babylonian Deities
How did this film make you feel: Sinister is an extremely creepy film. From the beginning of the film there's a sense of desperation as it's been 10 years since the main character has had his last hit book and he seems to be willing to do anything in order to have another bestseller. Besides keeping the content of his true crime writing secret from his family simply to spare them the disturbing details, Ellison is having to keep from them the fact that they are living in the house where the murders happened. While the family isn't physically being kept in the house, there's clearly emotional and financial oppression keeping them from the lives they want. As the film progresses, the usage of the Super 8 films adds to the oppressive atmosphere. The films have a grainy, lifelike quality that is far more disturbing than most CGI creature effects.
What were the most impactful moments of the film? The tension builds between Ellison and his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) as the truth about the house the Oswalt family is living threatens to be exposed. Of course, anytime one of the Super 8 murder films is shown you'll be darting your eyes around the room. There are some jump scares in the movie (pretty well done) but most of the fear simply comes from the film's excellent pacing. Oh, and there are creepy kids in the movie. Those always freak me out.
With what other movies would you compare this film? While Sinister isn't nearly as focused on it, as I watched Ellison delve deeper into his work at the expense of his family's well being I was very much reminded of The Shining. The usage of old films and an entity who dwells in them might remind you of Ringu/ The Ring or perhaps even John Carpenter's Cigarette Burns. Of course, the story of a family moving into a house where a murder occurred always brings to mind The Amityville Horror. I also kept thinking about Insidious and Stir of Echoes.
What stands out about this film? The atmosphere, Ethan Hawke's mixture of sincere dedication to his work and family and obsession with his project, the character design of the film's entity, Bughuul, Vincent D'Onofrio's role as a professor of the occult, and the Super 8 films themselves.
What message do you believe the filmmaker was trying to convey? There's a lot to be said here about how someone can be dedicated so much to trying to provide for their family that they neglect the relationship they have with their family. Sometimes we need to step back and reexamine what we think is best for others. Also, don't move your family into a house where a bunch of murders occurred. That's just asking with trouble.
How would you rate this film? Great