There was a time when I had a longing for movies of pure horror rather than the ones with blood and gore. My prayers were answered this year with The Conjuring, but I later came to know that there was a movie in 2012 which I missed, that was also dependent less on the blood and gore and more on the shocks and thrills. That movie was Sinister, and even as I almost confused it with Insidious for apparently no specific reason, here is another addition to my long list of favourite horror movies which can extend beyond any long paper. This is one of those movies which got released before our theatres had the courage to release horror movies here – lack of cowardice which they gained with The Conjuring and its long run in the theatres here. There was the pure absence of horror movies in the theatres before that, with the exception of hybrid movies like those of Resident Evil series. It is a strange thing, because they could have had a lot of success with Silent Hill last year and Evil Dead this year, but they decided to keep both out of theatres just like they did to Sinister. But there would be not many people who wouldn’t know of this movie, and that is a certainty.
We have the director of Hellraiser: Inferno and The Exorcism of Emily Rose working on this one – that was inspiring even as I can’t recollect the first movie and I never did watch the second. He would also direct Deus Ex, a movie based on the awesome computer game of the same name. The presence of Ethan Hawke was also interesting, as the last time I saw him was in an action-horror mix of a movie called Daybreakers, and I loved his performance in it. The movie also had a very interesting poster almost giving us the feeling of presence of a serial killer more and of a supernatural entity less. But what it gives us would be another result, a mixture of horror which has evolved into something innovative and new compared to the other horror movies of the year. I had also expected a lot of blood and gore, but this one has not much of it, and that works mostly to its advantage rather than against it. From what we see, it is just a simple horror film with innovation inside it. But it might be more than that, as there is a lot to this movie than what meets the eye. We have a lot of interesting things in the movie which arouse our curiosity by a good margin.
The movie begins with a Super 8 footage depicting a family of four standing under a tree with heads covered, hands tied and nooses around their necks, and someone causing their deaths by hanging. We can later see that a true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves into the house with his family of his wife, daughter and son. He was not having a good run as a crime writer for sometimes, and believes that this might change his situation. He doesn’t tell his family that this was the house where the murders took place. By staying there, he hopes to unveil something about the murders and write about it in his book thus bringing him back to fame and fortune. As he tries to mix fact and fiction without much hope, he soon discovers a projector and several reels of Standard 8 mm footage under the label of home movies. To his shock, he discovers that they are rather snuff movies, and it shows different families being brually murders in several ways: being burnt in a car, drowned in a pool, throats being cut, being run over by a lawn mower and finally the hanging which was shown in the beginning of the movie.
He actually notices a figure with a demonic face witnessing all these murders from some part of the screen. He also discovers childish drawings showing the murders, along with sketches of a demonic figure, whose name is written as Mr. Boogie. He finds out that the sketches are made by the one member of the family who went missing in the case of each murder which took place at different places during different time periods, with the helps of a deputy at the nearby station. He feels that there is some killer specialized in the occult or demon worship behind it after seeing a sign and knowing that it is a little kid who went missing all the time. He feels that he is on to something huge this time. Trying to decipher the symbol seen in the films, he comes to know that it is relate to a pagan Sumerian deity named Bughuul (Nick King), who would usually kill entire families before he takes their children into his world and consume their souls. Meanwhile, strange things happen at his house, as he has visions of dead, decaying children as well as the monster. His son has night terrors and his daughter draws strange things on the wall. So the game is on – are they hallucinations, an extremely smart killer or something supernatural at work?
Ethan Hawke is the star of the movie, as the man who investigates for money and fame, and almost feels that he has got something about a serial killer which the police didn’t, but later realizes that by moving into that house and searching for information, he has put the lives of himself and his family in trouble. We can see him making a sincere effort to portray his character who is determined at first, hopeful later and beyond all expectations by the end. The character himself is the tragic flaw which has them in peril, or accurately talking about it, there is the desire to unravel a mystery which was not supposed to be known to him. In one way or the other, this writer becomes another Doctor Faustus and even without signing a deal with the demons, brings about bleeding dagger on the head of his family and himself. His idea of hiding this information from his family, and telling his wife that the place is nowhere near any house where any murders took place doesn’t help at all. He might have been a best-selling author with a lot of fans, but not everyone would care about the same. He needs this work to be done so badly, and we can see his feelings, and well done Ethan Hawke in bringing the same to us.
Our director also bounces back from a not that good remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves, and gives us a lot to expect from Deus Ex. The movie shocks with its child images itself [Spoilers Ahead – you may skip to the last paragraph] One of the most shocking things in the movie is the realization about the children, as they wanders around in their decaying state – as if the result of the evil that has befallen them in the form of Mr. Boogie. Yes, the children are damned, and taken to the other world of the evil deity whom we can interpret as a demon. Before they are taken, there is the manipulation by the creature they call Mr. Boogie who makes them kill all their family members themselves before taken into the other dimension inside that movie. The process repeats very often as the creatures takes his own collection of souls to feed on. We do remember the 2008 horror movie The Children, don’t we? Yes, the children are the evil ones, manipulated out of their supposed innocence, like William Golding depicted in Lord of the Flies. This movie also asserts the fact that they can be easily corrupted – by circumstance or by a villain; or even by the circumstance which is the villain.
One has to wonder if Sinister gives a little too much and fails to keep the suspense glowing till the end. But it is a clear fact that they have rightly added those shocks to help the procedure. It does remind one of many movies, but none directly and therefore it is quite fresh for most of the audience. This could rather be a predecessor to what awesomeness which was to come next year in the form of The Conjuring. I did feel that keeping the creature from the other world as simply the devil would have been much better, as it is more of an entity whom we can attribute taking human souls with. With its theory of goodness plagued by the branches of evil, and the multiple shocks involving decaying children as well as that shadowy figure that is Mr. Boogie, Sinister does something that most of the horror movies fail; that is to bring a powerful plot with lots of brains behind it. The creepy atmosphere rightly ornate this movie with such an ease, and if someone other than Ethan Hawke scores, it is our own monster from the movie with right support from the kids who have turned into his own children.
PS: Thanks to Simon (http://simonsayswatchthis.wordpress.com/) for the recommendation 😀
Release date: 12th October 2012
Running time: 110 minutes
Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Michael Hall D’Addario, Clare Foley, Fred Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Nick King, Victoria Leigh, Blake Mizrahi, Cameron Ocasio, Ethan Haberfield, Danielle Kotch
@ Cemetery Watch
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