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“Sinister” is the film equivalent of forcing a kid to smoke a pack in order to deter their desire for cigarettes. Not that ALL horror films or scary stories are bad, mind you. The director of this particular film is a self-professed Christian who has declared horror to be the perfect Christian genre. (And for the most part, this writer agrees.)
But with “Sinister” we get a story about a man who should have taken more care regarding what he allowed himself (and his family) to see. It is almost a film adaptation of that old song, “Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See.” It is a not so subtle commentary on the direction Horror has taken, specifically the extreme nature of torture porn. At the same time, it is a very clever and effective nuance of the “captured footage” trend in horror. Most of all it is very scary.
The other refreshing thing about “Sinister” is the restraint Derrickson uses in telling the story. For an R rated movie, there is more implied violence than shown. We don’t get a lot of on screen imagery, but this may serve to make the impact of the stuff being implied all the stronger. To be sure, the things being done to people in this story are very, very disturbing.
The point of all that terrible content is to serve the story, though. Our protagonist is a man obsessed with recapturing his 15 minutes of fame as a “true crime” writer. He moves his family into the house where some shocking murders occurred, and in doing so exposes them to danger. The character study of this man’s descent into obsession, as he chases the mystery and horror deeper and deeper into the footage he finds in the attack, is troubling. Mostly because we parallel his journey as we continue to watch his story, even though we know—just as he does—that it is going nowhere we want to be.
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