Let’s talk about this film in terms of my Horror Film Cliche List because this film basically kicked most of them in he nuts and served them up on a platter:
1. Asshole hubris-consumed Dad in a crappy marriage forcing his family to move to a new house? Check!
This scenario is a bit hard to swallow as the most common criticism is “Why don’t they just LEAVE THE DAMN HOUSE!” The reason why is because if they did we’d have no film or (In the case of “Sinister”) a much shorter film.
2. Zero communication between husband and wife? Check!
Cliche #2 has to exist to support cliche #1. I particularly hate it because it most often portrays the wife as a hand-wringing or angry nothing with all bark and no bite. The wife in this film may as well not exist. I can’t even remember her name. Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) and the cast did a great job portraying these characters, but the cliched element of the entire set up just left me flat.
3. Creepy kid that acts weird which telegraphs the ending a mile away? Check!
Oh wow. A creepy, monotone little girl is his daughter. I’m not even going to tell you the ending, but you can probably figure out what it is within the first 5 minutes of the film.
4. Startle scares with no substance boogity boogity? Check!
There was hardly any character development for anyone (including Sinister pagan clown man whatever he is) except for Ellison. This made it hard to care and hard to stay interested in the film. If I ever have insomnia, the first 2/3rds of this film would be a great cure. I saw one reviewer compare this to the first SAW film. I disagree. In SAW, you were drawn in trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. There were very few pieces of any puzzle in “Sinister”. It was just Ellison downing whiskey and fumbling with some old film. It was the same level as watching someone be confused while walking through a haunted house. It was not badly executed. They did an excellent job setting the creepy tone of the story, but much like a good-looking person with the brain the size of a pea it was just boring.
When I review haunted houses, I believe they should have a decent narrative to be truly amazing. I feel the same way about my films.
I had to break this film up into 3 showings because it just plain didn’t hold my attention. The film was indeed excellently shot and the soundtrack was second to none. The reason I was able to turn it of and on again was because the plot seemed obvious from the beginning of the film and no surprises were to be had.
Sinister himself (or whatever his pagan name was – I’m not even going to look that up because I could care less about him) amounted to little more than startle scares. The parting shot where he jumps in your face before the credits made me jump of course, but it wasn’t because I was afraid of Sinister guy man thing whatever – it’s because it got really loud and a dude was in my face. If you are in the mood for a simple startle scare film you’ll enjoy this, but I was glad when it was finally over.