Thursday, 11 October 2012

Sinister - The scoop and digest

First of all, believe the hype.

I knew about this in advance of the surprisingly effective Possession,  and I thought it's going to be the usual hype machine and collapse quicker than an inexperienced stilt walker.

Considering how 'scary' The Woman in Black was and how that was built up more than a hungry RPG char, I was expecting this to be half decent but my verdict is nearly as shocking as the film itself.

More than ever, I would advise you not to read on if you haven't yet seen Scott Derrickson's supernatural creep fest.

Good horror movies are hard to come by these days and trust me, it's worth the admission fee.

So whatever, here we go.

Spoilers and/or plot details will be viewed via Super 8.

Those experiencing the nightmare include:

Ethan Hawke - Ellison
Juliet Rylance - Tracy
James Ransone - Deputy
Clare Foley - Ashley
Michael Hall D'Addario - Trevor
Fred Dalton Thompson - Sheriff

Four bagged unknowns are waiting to be hung from a tree, filmed in Super 8 footage.

Nice right?

A tree branch fairly adjacent snaps which forces the raise of each unfortunate.  After some inevitable struggling, they are strangled to death.

True crime novelist Ellison and his family move into a new home where this multiple murder took place.

They have moved here because he is using the murder to base around his new book.

His daughter Ashley is a keen painter and she is permitted to only paint on the wall in her bedroom.  Father promises that when he sells his book, they will return to their current home.

She tells him that when she grows up, she might be as famous as her dad.

A ladder climb later finds the discovery of a cardboard box containing five Super 8 reels and the required camera to view such a medium.

They are labelled as innocent home movies which include Hanging Out, Sleepy Time and BBQ.

We already know that 'Hanging Out' is not meant in the traditional sense...

He notices a scorpion (important) which he decides to end its life by squashing it with the box.

His private office is the home of an early pieced together forensic scene and begins setting up to view each reel.

With camera and canvas all set, let the horrific imagery roll.

He views all the disturbing footage but really gets freaked out when people are drowned in a swimming pool, but the deal breaker is when a dark masked figure in the water seems to appear in the water.

The footage is paused so he can take a closer look but on doing so, the camera is subject to spontaneous combustion.

We are told that their son Trevor has terror scares and he emerges from a cardboard box in an alarmingly awkward fashion. 

The school also suffers a whiteboard problem as he recreates the hanging out scene on a whiteboard.

Ashley starts to paint other aspects of this horrific crime.

As the shit really hits the fan, Ellison begins drinking heavily which when tackled by Tracy, he vehemently denies.

After more viewing, he notices an eerie symbol somewhere near where the murders take place.  Another observation is that the masked denizen is ubiquitous.

One night, he hears a terrible banging in the attic.  Of course he goes up there....

I'd think twice and hide in the cupboard but whatever, he notices a box lid moving about and reveals the movement is being made by a snake (important).

Whether you suffer from ophidiophobia or not, I'm glad (unlike the scorpion) that it escapes. 

Inside the lid are child's drawings depicting each murder featuring the mysterious and unknown Mr. Boogie.

The hatch lid slams shut but he's more surprised when he falls through the attic roof.

The following day, the starstruck Deputy has gander at his forensic CSI and he is pointed in the direction of occult expert Professor Jonas (Vincent D'Onofrio) for advice.

Jonas informs him that the symbol seen in the footage is a pagan deity called Bhagul, the eater of children.  This symbol is really Bhagul's face.

If I was him I'd hit the bottle more than ever to blank out this terrible realization that this 'thing' may not be an illusion.

Still, he enjoys a cancer stick.  

At some point, when he apparently walked over a weak spot in the attic, ghostly hands actually dragged him down.

It's the stuff to make your eyes water.

One night, a print-out of Bhagul briefly reveals an image of the real-life monster in the bushes. Arming himself with a cricket bat, he goes out to investigate.

He is either mighty brave, or mighty stupid.  Take your pick?

There is somebody there but to his brief relief, it's Trevor having another terror scare.

Get this, he goes back out there again.  Is this guy a sucker for punishment?

In roughly the same area, a nasty dog (important) is now present.

I hate woof woofs more than I hate a 12A certificate...

Unbeknownst to him, five mysterious children are now behind him and the dog trudges off.

After more scenes involving the children and a terrifying painting by daughter dear, events come to a head with another attic scene.

The camera is playing by itself and the children are watching the footage, they each put a finger to their lips to prompt the 'hush' signal and Bhagul appears in his face.

This of course forces a slight startle and he falls down the ladder.

Almost immediately afterwards, the camera and reels are thrown down from the attic.

This finally decides immediate self eviction.

He burns the camera and footage on a BBQ and orders his estranged family to get dressed as they are up sticks.

Back at their regular home, the nightmare seems behind him and family, but...

The attic houses a terrifying discovery, it's not a case that the bitch is back, but rather the box is back, and unharmed.

If things couldn't get any worse, the box now contains a new envelope labelled 'extended endings'.

He watches each new reel and this time, each child is clearly seen committing and/or instigating the murders.

He opens emailed images from Jonas that reveal a scorpion, snake and dog...

Jonas is online and explains that portals allow Bhagul to move freely between our world and his realm.

After finally answering a call from Deputy So and So, it's not what he wants to hear.

He basically says that after establishing a chronological connection between the murders, moving back home has basically continued the chain.

After noticing something not 'right' about his coffee and after reading a note from Ashley that reads something like 'Sweet Dreams Daddy', he loses consciousness.

Bound and gagged, Ashley appears dragging an axe and carrying a Super 8 camera.

She says something like "I'll make you famous again Daddy" and massacres her family.

Covered in blood, she adds the next murder to the box lid...

The new footage is played and when the original famous five see Bhagul, they run.

He carries Ashley into the film and to his world.

The final scene sees the box and new cannister labelled 'House painting '12'.

This is a genuine scare'o'thon featuring more jumps than trampoline practice and psychological terror.

Its effectiveness benefits from a creepy soundtrack and the Super 8 footage is made all the more unsettling thanks to little or no sound.

When used correctly, old technology is always more unnerving.

The casualness contained within the imagery is suitably graphic and distressing.

Mainstream horror and/or torture porn that feature buckets of gore are usually not in the slightest bit scary and this proves you don't need to empty a blood bank to achieve terror.

Okay, we've heard the bangs, things appearing in photographs and equipment starting by themselves a hundred thousand times, but it's a case of 'it ain't what yer' do it's the way that yer' do it', that's what gets results.

This has more scares than the Paranormal Activity franchise put together, but  the fourth outing does at least have a chance... 

The Sheriff char is unfortunately underused and the wife is hysterical rather than effective.

Bhagul is an unpleasant figure and his dress sense adds further to this terror.

You genuinely feel for Hawke's increasingly desperate situation meaning you care about the char involved.

The ending is more satisfying than a hot slice of pizza and cements its status as the best horror film I've seen in aeons.

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