Sinister – Scott Derrickson – 2012

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I love the idea that films can suck up and corrupt youth. It’s a scary thought. I don’t really believe that people do evil things because they saw something in a movie, but what if that was the case? What if something you saw in a film made you do something as horrific as kill your family? It’s this question that Scott Derrickson and writer C. Robert Cargill are investigating in the interesting and moody Sinister.

The film examines medias real life exploitation of true violence. Ethan Hawke is a true-crime writer who moves his family into the house of a horrible crime. Chasing another hit a decade after his first best seller, Kentucky Blood, he figures he can solve and unsolved mystery from ground zero and make a mint doing it.

Right here we get to one of the more compelling aspects of Sinister. It is a film about a man, an artist if you will, and a detective, trying to solve a crime for profit. Not only does he want to make money, but also he’s actually really into this shit. Hawke’s character is a perverse voyeur, a magnified image of someone seeking horror in film. In effect you can’t help but relate to him as he watches these horror films, he’s you, the audience member, getting a sick kick out of the mystery before him.

The film challenges logic a few times. Like, why doesn’t he watch all the films at once? It doesn’t detract too much. Derrickson keeps the film rolling and dribbling out tidbits of mythology about Mr. Boogie and Baghul the demon as Skyped in by Vincent D’Nofrio. This stuff is pretty good, and the puzzle fits together nicely.

The films, the six murder films in the movie are pretty great, especially the extended cuts we see at the end. Very simple devices give way to massive chills and thrills. But the simplicity of the murders and the title Mr.Boogie are hints to the riddle solved.

I found the ending both awesome and problematic. I love the metaphor. I love the idea that something seen in a film can grab and possess an individual. I love the harsh direction that the film goes, incorporating children into the violence. You don’t see that too much, and it’s tough stuff. However, all the poltergeist activity, the reappearing of boxes of films, all of this stuff doesn’t make any sense. The film makes no attempt to explain this stuff, but eh, I kind of rolled with it.

I liked the movie. It had some good scares and nice atmosphere. I think making a horror film about how horror films corrupt youth is kind of biting the hand that feeds you, you know?

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