VOD film review: Sinister
Ivan Radford | On 28, Oct 2013
Director: Scott Derrickson
Cast: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance
Watch Sinister online in the UK: Netflix UK / Shudder UK / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Google Play
Ellison (Ethan Hawke) is a true crime writer, chasing after money and fame after his only major success 10 years ago. Moving his family into the house of a missing child, he starts to investigate the nasty murders of the people who used to live there. Hung from a tree in the backyard, their bodies were found the day after – with no sign of wee daughter Stephanie.
Within hours, he finds some old Super 8 film in the attic (don’t worry: not that kind of found footage). Needless to say, bad things start happening.
There are obvious problems with Sinister. Why the hell would anyone investigating a gruesome killing move their family into the crime scene? Why wouldn’t they leave straight away when bad things happen? Why wouldn’t he call the cops – or at least tell his wife?
Former film blogger C. Robert Cargill solves some of the issues, helped by director Scott Derrickson. Together, they deliver jumps that, although clichéd, are effective, jolting scares.
As the terrified lead, Hawke carries the fear brilliantly with that mopey charisma of his. It’s refreshing to have an unreliable narrator who’s male rather than female, especially one whose freaked out face is so believable.
The rest of family’s equally good, although the show is stolen by the local cop, who gets all the best (and funniest) lines. The music may be a bit strong and the supernatural elements familiar, but Sinister’s simple setup – a man watching scary movies – is enjoyably meta and all the more effective for it. Plus it gets bonus points for having a character called Deputy So & So.
Haunted house, check. Freaky children, check. Sinister is a classic American horror movie – and all the better for it.
Sinister is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. It is also available to stream online on Shudder UK, as part of a £4.99 monthly subscription, or £49.99 yearly membership.