Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sinister - I'm Going To Write the Best Blog Post Anyone's Ever Written

I really wanted to see Sinister. I also really wanted to like Sinister. I wanted to like and see it so much I saw it by myself a month after it came out. I even treated myself to nachos and the sodium rich cheese-like substance that comes with them to further my enjoyment of this would-be wondrous film. I'd heard mixed things but was undeterred. It would be the Fall version of the Woman in Black, not the best horror movie ever made but it would be a freaky, fun, thrill-ride or whatever other sayings Peter Travers-types use. But, um, no. So no. Big no.

This is going to be pretty spoiler-filled since it did come out a month ago. So if you don't want spoilers please enjoy some of the other fine posts on this site. 

The basic plot is real-life crime author Ethan Hawke who is a douche moves his douche family to a house where a family was brutally executed except for a daughter that is missing. (it is undetermined whether the murdered family were douches as well) Ethan Hawke's wife claims she doesn't want to know what happened at their new house, then gets angry when she finds out. She also says that she's tired of moving and if the book he's working on doesn't go well, she'll take the kids and leave him; then she says she'll never leave him. He has a jagweed son who has night terrors but other than that is only in 3-4 scenes and is an asshole in them. He also has a daughter that is fantastically talented at painting, except it's painfully obvious that an artist was hired to paint her murals and the director stuck a dry paint brush in her hand and told her to go over what was already there. So, welcome to Dysfunctional Family USA.

Still looking for the plot.
While putting boxes in the attic Ethan Hawke finds a box of Super 8 films marked "Home Movies" which shows not only the family that used to live there being executed but several others being murdered in different ways. Determined to solve this mystery on his own (and re-claim his author glory which is a thing apparently) he doesn't hand them over to the cops but drinks heavily and watches them over and over in an effort to crack the case.  He enlists the help of a police officer who he calls Deputy So and So which gets funnier every time they revisit the joke, no ... wait, it does the opposite. 

In one of the most painfully obvious mysteries ever committed to screen, Ethan Hawke discovers that each of the families lived in the house that the previous family that had been murdered lived in. Vincent D'Onofrio tells Ethan Hawke via iChat (drink every time there an Apple product or app used and you'll go blind from alcohol consumption) about a Pagan deity named Bagul aka the Eater of Children who possess people then takes their children and eats their souls. For a few scenes it's hinted at that Ethan Hawke might just be going crazy. But that's dropped shortly thereafter once director Scott Derrickson decides what this film really needs is a Whack-a-Mole game starring Bagul and some dead kids awkwardly shushing you.

The makeup in this is awful. These dead kids look like my first attempt at doing a smokey-eye.
Ethan Hawke decides it's all very real, burns all the footage and yells at his wife that they're leaving and go back to their old home. Once there, Deputy So and So calls, and tells Ethan Hawke that the pattern in the murders is that the families were killed after they moved so now the Douches fit the pattern and if the killer is still out there, they're in trouble. Ethan Hawke then finds the same Super 8 box in the attic again with new footage that reveals that the missing kids killed their families. If I may... MOTHER-FUCKING-DUH! Rather than, I don't know, doing something, Ethan Hawke gets drugged and wakes up with his hands and feet bound next to his wife and son. His daughter appears says something lame like, "don't worry Daddy, I'll make you famous again" and in the smartest move in the film hacks them all into little bits. She paints with blood on the walls and then Bagul takes her to eat her soul. Or something.... that ending went on forever. And with one last jump scare.... 


So, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy is this so bad? Oh, let me count the ways. 

Firstly, do you see how many times I've typed "family" in the above paragraphs? A lot. Do you know what's not in Sinister a whole lot? Families. Yes, they're talked about but I barely remember what the Douches looked like because the camera was obsessed with Ethan Hawke and his stupid cardigan. It's like The Shining if Danny and Wendy only popped up in a few scenes. I needed to actually care about these characters so when they were in trouble I could be emotionally invested in them. In fact, I was pretty glad that they died horrible deaths.

Secondly, Bagul. I don't actually know that much about Bagul because it's not really explained. Bagul lives in images, but he has a Super 8 reproduction centre in his underworld?  How the hell is he making these Supe 8 films reappear all over the country. I mean, The Ring has a villain with the same means etc but they actually are able to explain a lot of it. Does it make sense? No. Do I care? No! It's creepy and it fun. Bagul just kind of pops up, hangs out and is sort of creepy. Here's a tip for all aspiring screenwriters out there - it's important to ask WHY and HOW protagonists and antagonists want things. Bagul eats children because it gives him power I guess. But what kind of power? Will he get evilerer now? How did people stop him before? It seemed like they got close to asking and answering these kinds of questions in the film but stopped short. Did the police department know about this? (all the clues were in front of them) Could they have been trying to cover it up to stop the murders?

Thirdly, the trailer. It gives away basically the entire plot and ALL the decent scares. BOO-URNS I say!

Fourthly, Ethan Hawke. Outside of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset he is pure douche. I only wish I'd seen more of him getting hacked to bits. It doesn't help that he's saddled with awful dialogue like, "I'm going to write the best book anyone's ever written." WHO SAYS THAT? ARE YOU TOLSTOY? Jeez.


  1. I wanted to like this movie too. And I kinda did. But I have deep concerns with it for the many reasons you pointed out. The tiny details like the magical Super 8. I was kinda willing to forgive this if they had made Bagul less of a supernatural character. He could've very well had been both worldly and otherworldy but yeah, that wasn't explained.

    I guess they needed to give Hawke's character "depth" by making him all broody and salty about his deflating writing career to add that touchy feely element to this film but I was more interested in trying to crack Bagul's motivation myself.


    1. That's why I got so angry with this film. It got so close to kicking ass but kept dropping the ball. Which is way more frustrating than a movie that plainly doesn't get it.

  2. After seemingly everybody and their brother swinging from this film's nuts for the last 2 months it was refreshing to read that. Maybe it's because I'm a pissy cynic but honestly the only thing the previews for this film compelled me to do was roll my eyes as I do all to often when it comes to recent genre fare that actually plays in cinemas. Found footage gimmick movie number 3294829372893728. Next...

    1. Thanks! And I fully agree. This was brutally lazy filmmaking.

  3. Replies
    1. It is. But not fun awesome ass (like Showgirls) but slow painful ass. At least the review was fun to write.

  4. Sorry you didn't like it. It worked for me, though I admit it has problems. The only thing I'd contest in your review is the douchiness of Ethan Hawke. I'll admit that when he first came on the scene, I thought he was just the latest prettyboy dickbag, but I've come to respect him quite alot, and I love that he's doing horror now.

    But I have absolutely no confidence in my own taste in movies, so I'm fully willing to accept that Sinister, perhaps, wasn't actually a good film. But hey, that's never stopped me from liking a movie before.

    As always, extremely entertaining to get your take on it.

    1. Haha. That's the beauty of reviews. They're subjective. We can have totally different opinions and both be totally right.

      Hawke just rubs me as douche, that's not to say he is. I think it's his hair.