After a truly haunting opening sequence, true crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves his family into a house where four members of the family that lived there before them were murdered and the final member of the family, a young girl, disappeared. Grasping at straws to revive his career, Ellison is using the house as a source of inspiration and research for a new book he’s writing about the deceased family and the possible whereabouts of the missing girl.
After his family has gone to sleep, Ellison checks out the attic and finds a box containing a projector and several reels of Super 8 home movies innocently labeled as Pool Party ‘66, BBQ ‘79, Lawn Work ‘86, Sleepy Time ‘98, and Family Hanging Out ‘11. Ellison sets up the projector to watch the footage and discovers that the reels are of different families over the years being murdered with the label indicating how each family died. I can’t even tell you how creepy the films are. Just thinking about it gives me the shivers.
Consulting local police, Ellison learns that the murders depicted in the films took place in different cities across the country, and that a child from each family went missing following every murder. Ellison consults a professor with expertise in the occult and demons, Jonas (Vincent D’Onofrio), to decipher the symbols he could see in the films. Jonas tells Ellison that the symbols are of a pagan deity named Bughuul who would take one child from a family into his world to consume their soul and then kill the remaining members of the families. It isn’t long before Ellison begins to experience some evil supernatural phenomena.
Writer C. Robert Cargill said that his inspiration for Sinister came from a nightmare he experienced after watching one of my personal favorites The Ring, in which he discovered a film in his attic that showed an entire family being hung. Director Scott Derrickson did an amazing job bringing a nightmare to the big screen. If anything is to be learned from this, for God’s sake, don’t watch old home movies that aren’t yours!!
Jessica's Final Review
The story was gripping, the protagonist was scary and the films Ellison found were horrifying. I wasn’t a fan of the ending, but overall Sinister was pretty great and has a good re-watchability factor. It’s tough to find a current horror film of such good quality as this one.