Sinister (2012)

(On Cable TV, October 2013) There are so many average horror movies out there that finding a decent one always seem like an achievement.  Sinister may not be exceptionally made or all that elegantly plotted, but it’s effective at what it tries to accomplish, and it manages a few dreadful moments along the way.  The story of a true-crime writer who comes to discover a supernatural serial killer, Sinister effectively sets up its premise and doesn’t waste a lot of time before unspooling its horror.  Audiences are likely to be as fascinated and repulsed as the protagonist in watching grisly Super-8 movies showing a few families’ final moments.  Sinister is a knowing horror film in that it manages to exploit a few well-establish tropes, upend a few others and twist a few more.  It doesn’t break out of the genre and has little meaningful social commentary to offer, but it creates a great atmosphere, a few jump scares, a relatively fresh take on classic material and some disturbing visual imagery.  The ending may be unsurprising, but it builds to a crescendo that matches good visuals with a fine sense of pacing.  Ethan Hawke doesn’t embarrass himself as the obsessed protagonist, while writer/director Scott Derrickson hits his intended targets –an underestimated skill in the horror genre.  Worth seeing, although perhaps not by the entire family!

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