By FERGUS MCANDREWS
The first poster for Scott Derrikson’s Sinister(2012) already had us feeling a little unnerved. We expected to be seeing a lot more of that gaunt, wide-eyed skull and the movie’s trailer do not disappoint.
However, as is the increasing trend in the horror industry, one might say that it shows a little too much of its antagonist, a creepy Pagan deity from another dimension.
Ethan Hawke plays true-crime novelist Ellison, who stumbles across an old stash of film reels in the attic of his new family home, where he hopes to write a best-seller. Unfortunately, the movie reels are the wrong kind of inspiration: they contain voyeuristic footage of a series of families going about their daily lives before meeting grisly demises. Ellison soon learns the families were killed by a malicious deity named “Bagul” who can exist only in images. But soon after, it becomes clear that this “thing” intends his family to become its next victims.
Judging by the trailer, the movie looks Dark with a capital “D”, and we can expect a 15 rating in the UK, or perhaps higher. It also seems to riff on a combination of old horror tropes – the creepy dead children are there, as is some found footage à la Cannibal Holocaust, in addition to the usual assortment of jump-out-of-your-seat scares. The child-devouring antagonist is obviously a CGI ghoul, but as we usually see him, or it, in our peripheral vision, I think it’ll work nicely. There is also a scene involving a Grudge-esque corpse and a cardboard box, which looks very scary, but couldn’t the producers have played that hand a little closer to their chest? After seeing the trailer, one feels as if the main surprises and creepy set-pieces of Sinister have been spoiled prematurely.
Nevertheless, this looks set to be a hit and has already garnered gushing feedback from movie critics, as well as a 100% “Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Variety magazine praised it “the sort of tale that would paralyze kids’ psyches, rendered from the anxious perspective of a parent torn over whether to serve as provider or protector.” Meanwhile, for Indie Wire, it was “a familiar haunted house movie,” but triumphs overall by “boiling down its appeal to pure atmosphere.”
Although some lucky horror hacks have already had the chance to see an advanced screening, most of us will have to wait until October 5th 2012 to experience “Sinister” too ourselves. But the growing critical support for this movie suggests that it’s sure worth the wait.