"Occult Horror Redux: Demonic Evil Wins Again"
What You Need To Know:
SINISTER contains too many scenes of the misguided protagonist investigating bumps in the night. There are also too many boring scenes of him staring at the home movies or having ghosts float around his house behind him. However, the truly unforgivable twist is that the demonic presence in the house overtly manifests itself and possesses the young daughter, who kills her family with an ax. Thus, evil triumphs completely in this ultimately abhorrent horror movie.
(OOO, LL, VVV, N, AA, DD, MM) Occult worldview where demonic evil with ghostly manifestations overcomes the protagonist and his family in the end; nine obscenities (including one “f” word), two strong profanities, and six light profanities; very strong scary violence showing some bloody effects of violent murders while not always showing the actual gruesome violence itself, such as grainy home-movie footage of violence and violent aftermath, 12-year-old boy is seen floating mysteriously out of a moving box while shrieking hysterically, screaming boy then is found in some bushes in the dead of night, quickly shown visuals include a family of four hanging from nooses on a tree limb and kicking as they die, another family bound and gagged with duct tape inside a station wagon that is chained shut and lit aflame with gasoline before they burn to death, four family members tied to pool lounge chairs who are dragged by ropes into a swimming pool and forced to drown to death, young girl’s hands are bloody after she has axed her parents and brother to death, large dog appears out of nowhere and menaces the main father character while dead children materialize behind him without his knowledge, the ghosts of the dead children are later seen again with frightening makeup on; no sex; upper male nudity; alcohol use and signs of alcohol abuse; victims are drugged; and, father is deceptive to his wife and children, father knowingly allows family to be paced in harm’s way out of his personal greed, 12-year-old boy shows disrespectful attitude toward father but this may become prudent toward the end of the movie as it becomes clear how misguided and dangerous the father has become.
SINISTER is a horror movie that lives up to its name. Although it tries to take a more intellectual approach to the genre with a solid lead performance by critically acclaimed actor Ethan Hawke, it deteriorates into boredom-inducing repetitiveness before taking a final evil twist into moral sickness where demonic evil overcomes a young girl and her family.
In the story, Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a writer who had a hit true-crime book a decade before but has been desperate for success since. He moves his unwitting wife and two children into a house where a family was violently killed and a daughter disappeared years before. Ellison hopes to solve the mysteries of what happened there and turn it into a comeback hit.
However, he ignores warnings from the local sheriff to move back out for his family’s own safety. He also lies repeatedly to his wife, claiming they are perfectly safe even as abundant evidence proves otherwise. He discovers a cache of 8 mm home movies showing various families meeting violent demises. He hides the fact he’s watching them from his family.
Eventually, an evil demonic presence called Mr. Boogie manifests itself and overcomes Ellison and his family in a gruesome way.
SINISTER contains too many scenes of the misguided protagonist investigating bumps in the night. There are also too many scenes of him staring at the home movies or having ghosts float around his house behind him, to be entertaining. However, the truly unforgivable twist is that (SPOILER ALERT) the demonic presence in the house overtly manifests itself and possesses the young daughter, who kills her family with an ax. Thus, evil triumphs completely over what little goodness appears in the movie. This ending is particularly depressing coming from director Scott Derrickson, who has made past professions of being openly Christian and drew praise from many Christian quarters for strong Christian elements in his earlier film THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE. Here’s hoping he can right himself and make films where good defeats evil in the future, but SINISTER is one movie that truly lives up to its name. It’s not only repetitious and boring, but depressing and abhorrent as well.