Sinister (2012) Review: Creepy Cinematography
“Once you see him, nothing can save you.”
Synopsis: Washed-up true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt finds a box of super 8 home movies that suggest the murder he is currently researching is the work of a serial killer whose work dates back to the 1960s.
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Sinister is an exercise in creepiness. The acting, music, and lighting all contribute to a tense atmosphere. It’s a slow burn, appropriate for this type of mystery – and better yet, the audience gets no release from the tension in the form of jump scares. You’re meant to be on edge, and stay that way – and it works.
Main character Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) makes questionable life choice after questionable life choice. He makes about as many bad decisions as a slutty blonde in a generic horror movie. It’s hard to summon any sympathy for a man who watches tapes of himself on TV and dresses like a Johnny Depp wannabe. His family, however, is another matter; I had more than enough empathy for them, if not a great deal of understanding as to why they’d still be living with such a disaster of a person.
I found the child actors a little lacking, but it’s hard subject material to work with. None of them ever quite hit the unnerving notes perfectly, and the ghostly children were more often oddities than truly disturbing, at least in my book.
What I truly loved about Sinister was the cinematography. Outside of my issues with the lighting (does nobody in this entire movie believe in turning on lights?!) the camera work was interesting and expressive. I particularly enjoyed the short “home movies” that play such a large role in the film. They were meant to be grainy and old and looked the part – which absolutely added to the creepy atmosphere of the movie. They were actually filmed on super-8 camera in order to get the correct effect, and the extra effort paid off.
Sinister also had a great ending. I won’t spoil it, but it was a delightful twist I was not expecting, and very well done.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: B
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