Sinister: Review

Sinister is trying to follow in the footsteps of last year's incredibly divisive Insidious (which I found scary, and appreciated the old-school vibe and practical effects). Sinister is going for the same feel, but the tone is pitch black, full of muted dread, and very grim images (like a family dangling from nooses). Sinister works on a subconscious level, has an incredible score, and Ethan Hawke as a scream queen was an audacious choice. Yet it's not an enjoyable film and never quite reaches critical mass to be scary.

Ultimately, the plot stalls and the writers don't really know how fully develop the interesting mythology they created. And even though this is a horror film, the characters do implausible things or over/under react unrealistically. The director approaches this as a family drama (but doesn't develop the characters) and relies on the trappings of a horror film (but doesn't develop the plot). The camera annoyingly lingers far too long on elements that should be just a momentary scare. And then there's the plot hole from hell that sets up the ending. Again, the writers set up "the rules" for the antagonist and then break them with no clear explanation.