Director: Scott Derrickson (2012)
Starring: Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Clare Foley
Find it: IMDB
True crime writer Ellison (Hawke) sneakily uproots his family from their home and moves them to an infamous murder house where a family were murdered years earlier. No sooner have they moved in than Ellison discovers a box of home movies in the attic. Breaking out the Super 8 projector, he digs right in. What he sees is the worst thing you could possibly find in a box in your attic - a series of found footage movies. It's the equivalent of finding a Paranormal Activity box set in your loft.
These are apparently more real than a Blair Witch though, depicting real murders and atrocities. Rather than calling the police, Ellison delves deeper into the mystery, uncovering the identity of the films' big bad and the nature of the threat. At the same time, his young son (named Trevor, ew) is experiencing a series of horrid night terrors, his daughter conversing with the dead, and things keep going bump in the night. It's all very, well, sinister.
But the word 'sinister' is a promise, a threat, rather than anything concrete. "Threatening or portending evil, harm, or trouble", to go by the dictionary definition. Which Sinister does very well. With its spooky jump-scares, creepy set-up and actually impressive found footage interludes, Sinister portends evil very effectively. But when that evil eventually arrives in the film, it's an entirely non-threatening affair. A scene in which Ellison falls out of his attic is laugh out loud funny. Also, there is nothing less 'sinister' than the name 'Mister Boogie'. I'm sure the filmmakers thought that they were going for some sort of Pennywise the Dancing Clown form of reverse-spookiness, but Mister Boogie is shit. It's a blatant attempt to recreate the Darth Maul demon of Insidious.
There are some nice ideas at play, and Ethan Hawke is always watchable (even while wearing a cardigan, ew again), but Sinister is a massive disappointment. It's close behind Cabin In the Woods as the most disappointing horror movie of the year.