Horror movies are seeing a renaissance like no other in recent years. The success of horror films on the big screen has caused Hollywood studios to re-evaluate how much they are willing to invest in the genre, with many films taking top spots in the box office earnings every year. From the Paranormal Activity franchise to The Woman in Black to recent hits like The Possession and Insidious, horror movies are here to stay. One of the best reviewed horror films of 2012 was Scott Derrickson’s Sinister starring Ethan Hawke.
Ellison Oswalt (Hawke) has made a name for himself writing true crime novels. For his new book, Ellison moves his family into a house where a horrific crime took place without telling his wife the details. After finding a box of home movies and a projector in the attic, Ellison starts to get obsessed with the case and finds there may be much more to the murders than meets the eye. The films contain footage of multiple murders, not just the ones in the house, and each film contains an image of the same figure in the background. Ellison decides to investigate but may have much more than a new bestseller in store for him.
I had heard great things about Sinister when it was in its theatrical run and I was already a fan of director Derrickson after his first two films, The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Day the Earth Stood Still. While the overall scariness of Sinister was a little disappointing based on expectations, the other fine points of the film more than made up for it. Ethan Hawke was great in the role of Ellison, we don’t often get Hawke in genre films but when he does show up, it is usually with stellar results (see Daybreakers). He brings a real everyman feel to the role and it was nice to see him here. The whole feel of the film was pretty impressive as well with Derrickson really taking a page from the Session 9 playbook and endowing the film with a real sense of dread from the first frame. But I have to say, the thing I loved the most about Sinister was the soundtrack. Hollywood score veteran Christopher Young provides what may be the creepiest and most atmospheric score in ages. Young started off way back in 1982 with The Dorm that Dripped Blood and has done loads of memorable scores over the years including Nightmare on Elm St 2, Trick or Treat (personal fave), Hellraiser 1 & 2 and Drag Me to Hell. But with Sinister he has crafted I think the most effective part of the film. Watch this one with the sound cranked up and you will see what I mean. Overall, Sinister is a great film with plenty of unnerving moments, good performances and a nice look.
The Blu-ray from Alliance is beautiful, especially considering the majority of the film is either dark or in shadows. All that darkness does not hamper the transfer though and the colors look natural, the detail and clarity are excellent, and the soundtrack begs to be turned up as loud as you can. Many atmospheric sounds will float around your surround channels making Sinister one of the best audio experiences in a while. Definitely recommended.
Available February 19, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.