Reviewed by Andy
With the recent trend for negativity in reviewing, especially on the internet, it must be tempting for those being slated to use the defence that those criticising haven’t done any better themselves. So Sinister, from the keyboard of C Robert Cargill (known as Massawyrm on Ain’t It Cool News) is immediately up against a higher benchmark than most.
True crime writer Ellison Oswald (an interesting combination of names, though I suppose no more unusual than, say, Harlan Oswin ) is hoping to recapture the popularity of his breakthrough book, Kentucky Blood. He takes his family to a new house in order to research what could be a breakthrough for him – a case where as well as the murder of the family, a child was taken, and could potentially still be alive…
Ethan Hawke has always done well in making flawed characters watchable and plausible, and puts in a brilliant performance here – Ellison puts his chance of fame ahead of his family whilst believing he is doing it for them is believeable and the way he convinces himself of rational explanations when things start to go pear shaped is completely consistent. Even when arguing with his wife (Juliet Rylance) they both have logical points which follow from their characters – it feels more natural than in most films and with the child actors holding up the quality too brings to mind the kind of sense of real family that helped make Poltergeist such a classic. Add to this some clever (and again character-based) chuckles that don’t take away from the building tension, impressive directing by Scott Derricksen (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and currently lined up for the remake of Poltergeist itself) and a brilliant soundtrack by Christopher Young (Hellraiser) that plays with ambience and sounds to add to the atmosphere and dread.
Managing to make a screen full of 1500 Frighfesters jump is no mean feat, but Sinister does it with apparent ease – the components come together brilliantly to create one of the most genuinely scary films in recent years. This is what Hollywood horror should, and can be – more like this please! *****
Sinister is released across the UK on October 5.