Director: Scott Derrickson
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Vincent D’Onofino.
Written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill.
Running Time: 110 mins
Release date: 5th October 2012
When a film company puts on a screening where you are given disclaimers stating that they will be filming the audience in order to use for advertising purposes, you wonder if the film is going to be this side of bad. When you sit down and you are plied with free water and popcorn, things aren’t looking up. When you are told that five audience members are wired to heart monitors and heat monitors to register their fear factor, alarm bells start ringing. Finally, when the audience are led out to be interviewed vox box style for the television ads…and no one steps forward, guess what? You have a turkey on your hands. And that is exactly what Sinister is.
Crime writer Ellison moves his family to a new home in order to write a new book, the true account of the disappearance of a little girl. The local sheriff doesn’t want him anywhere near his town and advises him to leave. Stubborn to the hilts, he is going to stay and starts investigating the crime. Then he discovers a box in the attic containing super 8 films and a projector. The films show families enjoying themselves then abruptly cutting to scenes in which the families are murdered. Are they connected? Will Ellison find out the truth? What is causing those strange noises in the house? Do we really care?
Frankly, no. The reason being is that this supposed horror is far from scary, hardly horrific and incredibly silly. What’s worse is that the makers have got an excellent actor in the form of Ethan Hawke to star, who then proves his competence as an actor and is really the only reason to see this tripe. While he brings depth and understanding to his character while at the same time sneaks around the dark house like some Scream Queen being stalked by a mad, knife-wielding killer. His strength of performance makes everyone else’s seem utterly inadequate.
The scenes between him and his wife, played by British actress Juliet Rylance are so contrived, that their dialogue is almost laughable. Hawker commands the screen while Rylance looks like an amateur who has walked through the wrong door and starts each scene with a line that no wife would ever say to a husband. Vincent D’Onofini also stars but you wouldn’t know it. Playing a professor that Hawke turns to for advice, all his scenes are played on video messaging. Now either he wasn’t available to actually turn up or he realise what a turkey this is that he decided not to turn up but literally sent his performance in. Serious, if you have a talented actor like D’Onofini, don’t waste him, use him!
Then there’s the scares. These are given to us in the form of loud noises, sudden jolts and objects appearing from nowhere Funnily enough the packed screening I was at, the audience didn’t really jump at all. They certainly weren’t screaming in terror and, as we were advised at the beginning, please don’t leave the cinema (some people decided not to take heed and left anyway).
This is a poorly executed ghost story that starts off with plenty of promise but descends into pathetic cheap tricks to evoke some form of reaction. None of it works and you question who is going to be genuinely scared by this. Certainly not the audience I saw it with. My hair in the morning when I get up is scarier than this. It’s called Sinister but the only Sinister thing is, who thought this was scary in the first place?
By the way, the heat reactors on our volunteers would obviously be working overtime when you put the heat on so high, it makes you down your free bottle of water due to dehydration. Seriously pathetic.