Directed by: Scott Derrickson
Released on: October 12th, 2012
Grade: 5 out of 5 meatballs
Reviewed by: Neil Miller, Jr.
Well, I’m pissed. I think I may have just seen quite possibly the best horror film since The Exorcist. Why does this piss me off? With some rather promising horror outings on the horizon (the upcoming Paranormal Activity 4 looks promising as does The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, both of which have trailers prior to Sinister), I feel as if this movie can’t be topped. It will — pardon my French — fuck with your mind. It will frighten you, it will disturb you, and even worse… it will stay with you. I had the heebie jeebies for the entirety of my ride home and even still as I write this review. Read on to find out why this movie is destined to go down in history as one of the best modern day horror films of our time.
The one thing that finally sold me on wanting to see Sinister was someone commenting on how important the score was to the film. That was all it took because anyone who loves genuinely memorable horror films also knows that in such brilliant films, the score is as much of a star as the lead character. John Carpenter’s Halloween score, Wendy Carlos’ A Clockwork Orange compositions, and Goblin’s Tenebre and Suspiria works… these are classic film scores, and we can now add Christopher Young’s Sinister score to that list. If you’re a horror film buff and perked up at that name, it’s because Young is also responsible for Hellraiser’s score.
So, I went into this movie making sure to note the score, thinking that surely I’d have to keep a close ear to the background noise. Luckily, no effort is needed to do such a thing. The various elements of sound in this movie, thanks also to Dane A. Davis for the mind-bending sound design, are more of a star than Ethan Hawke. Whether it’s a footstep coming from the rear left channel or a scampering in the distance barely emitting from the front right speaker — every nuance is so bold and defined that you’re forced to be immersed into this harrowing vision of horror whether you like it or not.
The actual cinematography of Sinister is on par with the sound design — the angles are crisp, and with almost a constant sense of darkness throughout the film, the viewer is veritably tricked into seeing “Mr. Boogie’s” face a la the “demon” appearances throughout The Exorcist. Only these visual tricks are so obscure that you almost doubt that you saw anything at all. But it’s the “home movies” that are the most horrifying thing you’ll see in this film. I daren’t say anything specific about said movies, but I will say that when Ethan Hawke’s character, Ellison, views the last reel… you could literally hear a pin drop in the theater it was so quiet. That’s just how gripping this film truly is. The unforgettably shocking imagery paired with the eerie shadow of absolute fear the film’s sound casts over the viewer sincerely make this one of the most terrifying movies you’ll see for a very long time. Really, I’m finding myself wondering if this could be the absolute scarefest I’ve been waiting so many years for… aka the scariest film of all time. It’s a bombastic statement, but I’m the kind of journalist who likes to go with my gut instinct as the best opinion I can give of anything. So, with that said… go see this movie. See it for yourself. Experience the electrifying, and by the end exhausting, horror this film exudes. If you’ve been waiting for a tried and true scare like what films of the 70s and 80s provided us, then Sinister is your holy grail.