It’s October, and that invariably means three things: Halloween, Candy, and Horror Films. While I’m a fan of two of those things,
the latter is something I shy away from lately for many reasons. Sinister reminded me precisely why I avoid Horror Films.
Movies in general lately seem to be lacking something, but Sinister seemed promising. With a name like Sinister,
it has to be at least worth two hours and ticket fare, right?
After all, this is from the “masters of horror” who brought us Paranormal Activity, Paranormal Activity 2, Paranormal Activity 3, and the upcoming masterpiece Paranormal Activity: Keep Feeding Us Money and We’ll Keep Ruining the Genre.
The film starts with Ethan Hawke trying to avoid becoming a “has been” author, and therefore moving his family into some mildly creepy older house for inspiration. (Because Hollywood knows nothing genuinely scary happens in upscale neighborhoods with good street lighting and recycling programs.) Blend in an Amityville Horror bloody history ripe with family murders and The Ring’s affection for evil spirits who love to travel in impractical ways, and you’ve found the plot for Sinister.
Hawke discovers some reels of Hi-8 film in the home containing conveniently recorded clips of the previous occupants’ untimely deaths, and rather than relocating his family he decides to investigate. He soon discovers the backing story of the “boogey man” of the film, Bagel. Actually spelled Bagul, it’s some sort of otherworldly demi-god that eats young souls – this terrifying study in makeup artistry jumps from victim to victim by means of images. Images can be anything – laptop screens, televisions, photographs, and paintings. Yes. Paintings. And apparently Bagel travels with a group of attic-dwelling mini-Bagels.
Of note is the soundtrack. The soundtrack seems like the composer was wired on every conceivable energy drink yet created and had never heard the word “subtle” in their life. Then again, most people don’t go to horror films to enjoy the music. Sinister’s soundtrack is just so over the top with the standard crescendos and crashes that it can only be described as exhausting.
The style of shooting and the camera work were genuinely refreshing, strictly from a film making and imagery standpoint. It has a gritty edge that reminds me of a Clint Eastwood flick, and were it not for the lackluster storytelling and distracting soundtrack, the movie may pass as an impressive indie effort.
While I won’t spoil the ending for those of you who do decide to venture to your local cinema to see this thing, I will leave you with this: It doesn’t end exactly the way you expect it to. Or maybe it does. (Hint: It does.)
If you already have a phobia of creepy pictures and overly enthusiastic orchestral soundtracks, this film may terrify you senseless. Otherwise, it’s your standard issue horror flick. I found Sinister wasn’t nearly as repulsive as some other recent disasters in the thriller genre, but it won’t be long remembered. Unless, of course, the directors expect to keep feeding us Bagul in a new sequel year, after year, after year.
– Brandon Frisby