Scott Dickerson, the director of “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” brings us a new horror adventure, “Sinister,” which debuted in theaters Friday.
The film begins with a home video of a family, which is later found to be among others in a box in the attic of the new home of novelist Ellison Oswalt, played by Ethan Hawke. The film’s darkened lighting — not uncommon in horror films — introduces the cryptic story.
Oswalt moves his family yet again to revive his career as a crime novelist, solving cases that local authorities can’t, or in his opinion, are too lazy to solve. Little does his family know that this time the new house is the latest crime scene Oswalt is researching: a house where a family was mysteriously murdered.
In the midst of all the moving chaos, Oswalt finds a box of what he thinks are old home videos. Attempting to satisfy his curiosity, he finds that the videos are connecting pieces to a disturbing string-of-murders puzzle.
He finds that in each of the videos, there is Bughuul, a white-masked, monstrous character –— a polite description — from another world. He feeds off the innocence of children and lives through his videos. The more Oswalt researches Bughuul and the murders linked by the videos, the more Bughuul, also known as “Mr. Buggie,” comes alive.
As the movie progresses, the family begins to argue and fall apart. The fact that Oswalt chose a crime scene as the next location to move his family causes the relationship with his wife Tracy, played by English actress Juliet Rylance, to dwindle. Odd happenings with their son and daughter make the couple question their move to a new town.
With paranoia setting in, Oswalt regrets his decision to drag his family along in his attempt to resurrect the fame he once had. After waking in the night — many nights, actually — to find the videos playing on their own, Oswalt attempts to destroy the homemade films. Once he learns the films are indestructible, Oswalt hurriedly packs his family into their car and speeds to their previous home that is still for sale, but that may have sealed his family’s fate to become what he’s seen on the white screen.
The acting wasn’t anything extraordinary, but it wasn’t distractingly bad. For a horror film, “Sinister” is relatively easy to handle for the jumpy moviegoers. The trailer for “Sinister” was the scariest thing about it. The movie didn’t show anything too gruesome or gory; it was mostly the ideas of some of the murders the novelist was interested in and the fact that he moved his family into a crime scene.
There was an absence of explanation of where the Bughuul really came from and how the string of events started, but maybe with more attention to detail and less focus on the paranoia, the movie could have been better.