Monday, October 15, 2012
It's so refreshing to see mainstream horror movie that gets it, that isn't some slickly polished studio turd, but rather a film that understands the importance of atmosphere and suspense, but also has the resources to hire a major actor and give him a meaty role. This is the kind of film that studio horror should aspire to be.
One interesting touch is that the film has a found footage element to it: Hawke finds copies of the killer's "home movies" in the attic and studies them. They turn out to be footage of the killer's gruesome murders. Even though this footage makes up all of 10 or 15 minutes of the film, tops, it qualifies as the best use of the style in recent years. I think part of what works better about Ethan Hawke watching eerie super 8 footage of murders, compared to shaky cam footage of a bunch of drunk loudmouths getting killed, is the powerless-ness. Most "found footage" movies try to put you in the moment, but Sinister uses it to show you what's already happened, so you know there is nothing you can do to stop it.
The first half is suspenseful and fun enough that the second half can't help but suffer in comparison. We can only watch Ethan Hawke slowly walk down unlit hallways for so long before the audience expects to get some answers, and the answers are never as good as the questions. But even it never lives up to its initial promise, Sinister remains highly watchable and well-made.