Directed by Scott Derrickson
The PR firm for this film’s production company should be doing everything in its power to distance itself from the term “found footage.” As of this moment, only zombies are as played out as the dreaded found footage subgenre. Yet Sinister seems poised to rise above it. Ethan Hawke is a true crime novelist who finds a killer’s grisly recordings in the attic of this new house, while his family is menace by… someone (something?) The imagery looks dark and creepy and the red band trailer doesn’t bother with snippets of dialogue to give viewers story exposition. Instead, ethereal music accompanies some truly unsettling (yet not gory) images. The found footage in question is given a legitimate reason for its existence: we’re not forced to swallow a contrived story about setting up security cams in the house, or keeping a highly improbably video diary (ahem, Paranormal Activity). The few grainy, silent scenes shown in the trailer are disturbing and affecting, reminiscent of The Poughkeepsie Tapes. The hard R rating has become somewhat of a rarity in horror films lately, and we could see it here in a psychological, realistic style.
Director and screenwriter Derrickson has a mixed track record that doesn’t inspire much confidence: he’s behind the terrible remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still and the generally-liked Exorcism of Emily Rose. Even knowing what I know about the provenance of the film, it’s one of the few wide-release horror movies I am excited to see in the theater. Is Sinister smart enough to do for found footage films what Scream did for teen slasher flicks?
By Kiki McGraw