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Sinister - DVD Review


Review by Jason Palmer

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

THE horror genre is enjoying a rare period of quality, with the likes of The Last Exorcism, Paranormal Activity and Insidious all delivering decent scares whilst doing great business at the box-office.

We aren’t talking torture-porn like Saw or Hostel – films that saturated the market with nasty fluff that had no tact or verve.

We’re talking genuine old-fashioned scares, where less is more and the build-up plays a more pivotal role than the pay-off. That’s where Sinister devilishly sits – a clever, if predictable, horror yarn that delivers plenty of frights and uneasiness.

We join true-crime novelist Ellison (Ethan Hawke) as he seeks to reclaim a former-glory. Gained by solving a murder case that the police couldn’t many years ago, Ellison’s notoriety has now made him lots of enemies, especially in the small town he moves his family to in order to solve a new murder and, by extension, write his new book.

Deciding it’s a fantastic idea to move them all into the house of the actual murders, Ellison goes about researching what happened and in doing so uncovers a box of Super 8 home movies that gruesomely depict the real life killings. As Ellison delves deeper into the murky movies he unwittingly places his family in danger as the supernatural entity responsible begins to target them all.

Sinister is full of the right kind of scares – ones that leave you shaken and stirred before, during and after the bang.

The trump card here is the film’s use of incidental sound – a marvellous tool in generating genuine dread and uneasiness. It’s also one of those rare occasions when background sound is used to not only scare its audience but its protagonist too.

The monotonous humming of the Super 8 player achieves a similar effect as the camcorder clock in Paranormal Activity – a strong tension that builds momentum until the relief of either daylight hours (PA) or the Super 8 player switching itself off (Sinister).

Sinister may dice with convention but it does so stylishly and with a true appreciation of how to deliver great scares. It plays with the audiences’ foreboding sense of fear and its brilliant use of sound freezes you at the edge of your seat.

If you want to be scared the right way this Halloween, you can do a lot worse than Sinister.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 110mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 11, 2013