KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Sinister is the stuff of recurring nightmares.
The movie follows true-crime novelist Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who moves his family into a home where four people were hanged in the backyard.
His motive is to be closer to the crime scene, as well as conduct research for his next book that he hopes will curb his recent fallout on the best-seller list.
Oswalt's desire to become the successful writer he once was gets in the way of his own family's safety.
While exploring the house, he finds a box of ancient home videos in the attic. Oswalt watches the films and witnesses the gruesome murders of several different families.
After diving deep into the videos and trying to pinpoint what exactly happened to the innocent victims, unexplainable events start happening to his own son and daughter.
But the film's violence is far from gratuitous. The reason Sinister works as a horror film is because it focuses on the scares, rather than the gore.
"The movie is about fear. I like the fact that the fear that drives the main character is a deep seeded fear that people can relate to," director Scott Derrickson said.
In attempting to master the latest special effects and gruesome mechanisms of murder, most contemporary horror writers and directors have lost sight of what really scares audiences. But Sinister keeps audiences interested because it's truly frightening.
"Actors love to play tough. They love to play hurt or vulnerable. A lot of those emotions are charming or interesting or human," Hawke said, "but fear is very unappealing,"
Fear is becoming a near-distant memory in Hollywood. In this reviewer's opinion, the last truly scary movie to be released in theaters was Insidious in April 2011. It made audiences feel unconformable and erratic, stripping them of feeling safe even inside their own homes. Locked doors were no longer a barrier between good and evil, as all walls were torn down by the film's devilish demon.
It's refreshing to know that Sinister delivers the same type of scares.
"If you want see one where 90 million people get their heads chopped off, then you should see a different one," Hawke said. "But if you want to get told a scary tale, then this is very, very good. I feel really proud of it."
If you want to be shaking in your sleep from pure terror, then you'll love Sinister. But the director says seeing it could also be a form of self-medicating.
"Horror films are really good things, and really healthy for us for the most part. They exorcise our own demons," Derrickson said. "They're a way for us to release our own anxieties and speak to our unspoken fears."
This new horror flick will definitely tap into your sense of fear, and help bring those recurring nightmares to life.
Sinister is terrifying, unsettling and fierce. It's one of the top horror movies this year!
FINAL GRADE: B+
Sinister is rated R for disturbing violent images and some terror.
Runtime: 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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