Sinister is a 2012 supernatural horror film directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose; Deliver Us from Evil; Hellraiser: Inferno) from a screenplay co-written with C. Robert Cargill.
The film employs “found footage” along with traditional cinematography. It was a huge hit, delivering $77 million worldwide against a tiny $3 million budget. A sequel, Sinister 2, was released in 2015 and a third entry seems inevitable.
Ellison (Ethan Hawke) is a true-crime novelist who purchases a new home with the hopes of writing a successful book. After moving into his new home, he discovers a box of old home movies that depict previous families who lived in the house, as well as their murders.
As Ellison looks further into the mystery behind the tapes, he discovers that the murders all have ties to a supernatural entity known only as “Bagul”. Bagul exists in images of himself and runs the risk of making Ellison’s family the latest casualty of the house…
“Sinister also does a nice job of being truly horrifying without bathing itself in blood and gore. For as gnarly as some of the situations in this film are … the focus remains the story and the atmosphere surrounding it. I found myself laughing at times, not due to the film being funny, but because the film took me out of my comfort zone in a way that was as terrifying as it was entertaining.” Rope of Silicon
“… might suggest a realist drama, but a supernatural dimension is brought into play, making the plot directionless. There isn’t an ounce of ingenuity in the way the movie is concluded, but some generic expertise in the way it is put together.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“In the end, all Sinister has to offer are a few standard-issue scare techniques: shadowy figures in darkness; a freeze-frame image of Bughuul that comes to life when Oswalt is not looking, etc. But when director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) tries to pull out all the stops, he plays a bum note…” Hollywood Gothique
“The most spine chilling thing about Sinister isn’t the spooky apparitions that jump out from the shadows, but the unseen things that go crash, bang, wallop in the darkness … Compelling and terrifying in equal measure, this creepshow also features a frightening soundtrack from Christopher Young that’s guaranteed to shred your nerves. This is modern horror at its best…” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep
“This return to the good ol’ hard-R horror trend after a long line of anodyne mid-‘aughts thrillers felt like a sucker-punch to the abdomen, working a gruesome legacy of snuff films, occult nastiness and literary vanity to incredible scary-movie effect.” Scott Tobias, Rolling Stone
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