SINISTER – movie review

In high concept terms Sinister is a cross between The Exorcist and Freddy, who’s still out murdering human beings.
Ethan Hawke, a non-fiction writer has limited abilities and no imagination. He has to write his next book about murder. For (inspiration?) he moves with his family into a house where its residents, a family of four, was hung in the backyard. The house was a murder scene. Presumably the police searched inside and out, but not perfectly. Easily found in the basement is a box of home movies, serial killing murders families for 55 years.
After discovering the films Hawke doesn’t give them to the cops. He decides to watch to improve his ability to write about murder? To solve the murders himself? Watching movies allows him to drink during the day. That is the extent of the writer’s imagination (other than wearing a Bennington College T-shirt). Is it the booze or is it real? Writer hears weird sounds running around the attic of the house. The police investigate and attribute the noises to squirrels. The source of the noise is more likely caused by squirrels running around the writer’s head.
[The number of crimes the writer commits while alive, are innumerable, overlooked and never addressed. Writer himself is unaware he is committing crimes by withholding and destroying evidence.]
The writer consults an academic expert who identifies a symbol appearing in the films as representing a sect or cult of early Christianity. The regular Christians of the earlier times marginalized those people, but the symbol carries on and will release all the bad things the sect/cult once did: Murder of children except a chosen favorite who lives in another world with a demon, symbol perpetuator. As things carry on writer and his family are killed by their ten year-old daughter. At film’s end she joins the other world.
Who done it? Writer burned all the films of 55 years of serial killings, leaving no means to get the guilty, providing for a sequel and giving no legacy to the writer. He won’t make the footnotes of history.
NOTE that Hawke doesn’t play a writer. He doesn’t read. He doesn’t do much that a writer does. He is sultry,defiant and unfriendly to the local cops. He does write post-it notes to himself, as though that is the means to write a long book. These activities don’t make the role convincing.
Sinister is an excellent movie for all the horror movie cliches. Errant noises, creepy, mysterious music, dark places, walking the house during the day and never open the curtains so it is always dark, using a small flashlight, etc. Writer goes upstairs when he hears a noise. Nobody is supposed to be in the house. More sounds from the attic. Writer walks and hallucinates, seeing something odd. Are the images real, a result of booze or caused by roids?
Writer can’t see much in the attic with the little flashlight. Does he do anything reasonable like go the store and get a BIG FLASHLIGHT? NO. He is very energy conservation conscious. He never turns on the lights at any time during the movie. Writer is spooked. He gets a big knife from the holder in the kitchen. [You’ve seen that on TV hundreds of times.] During another visit to the attic, he finds drawings meant to be his family? As he walks along in the attic he falls through the attic floor. The cops come but writer doesn’t tell about the films or other spooky things. During one search the darkness is explained: The power went out. No time does writer open the curtains. Writers wife wants to leave. He argues this is the best place to write. Slow as he is, Writer finally determines someone is after his family, the serial killer’s next victims. He hears noises at night and is alarmed, but he doesn’t wake up the family to say: “Let’s leave!”

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