SINISTER (2012) review – Halloween Special 2018

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It’s Halloween month, y’all, and you know what that means! It’s time to catch up on our favorite horror movies and gear up for Halloween! Last year, I did a Halloween special where I reviewed some of my favorite horror, or Halloween-appropriate movies and I had so much fun doing that, I wanted to do it again. Sadly, I don’t like a lot of horror movies, so my pool of material is about as deep as a puddle in summer in California. So in order to rectify this, I’ve reached out to the deepest and darkest corners of the internet and asked for a little help. And by that, I mean I went on Facebook. So, a very special thanks to the Movie Talk community, as well as my friends and co-workers, for your horror movie suggestions. I won’t be able to get to every single recommendation, but you’ve all left me with great ideas and there’s always next year! This is my Halloween Special 2018!

Cast: Ethan Hawke (BLAZE [2018], MAUDIE [2017], MAGNIFICENT 7 [2016], and the upcoming STOCKHOLM [2019]), Nicholas King (stuff I’ve either never seen or heard of), Juliet Rylance (A DOG’S PURPOSE [2017]), Clare Foley (SOUTHPAW [2015]), and Michael Hall D’Addario (stuff I’ve either never seen or heart of)

Director/Co-writer: Scott Derrickson (DOCTOR STRANGE [2016] and THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE [2005])
Co-writer: C. Robert Cargill (DOCTOR STRANGE)
Composer: Christopher Young (EMILY ROSE, and the upcoming PET SEMATARY [2019])
Cinematographer: Christopher Norr (PUZZLE [2018])
Editor: Frédéric Thoraval (PEPPERMINT [2018] and UNFORGETTABLE [2017])

This is my honest opinion of: SINISTER



Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a famous true crime writer, loving husband to Tracy (Juliet Rylance), and loving father to his two children Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and Ashley (Clare Foley). Ellison has just moved his family to a new home to investigate a family murder where the father, mother, and two kids were hung from a tree, but the third child was missing and Ellison intends to find out what happened. However, as his searching brings him closer to the truth, he begins to find himself seeing a demonic image that may be linked to multiple other family murders.


You know what? This wasn’t half bad. It’s not that great, but I enjoyed enough of this.

Positives: Ethan Hawke is pretty damn great. I think his performance is a little boring when it starts, but as the story progresses, he gets a whole lot better when he gets more and more exposed to the supernatural. Especially later on, he gets pretty intense. Loved it. But if Hawke isn’t stealing the show, then it’s Rylance giving an equally great performance as the arguably only level headed person in the entire movie. Oh, and Deputy So & So (James Ransone) was a pretty good character. He didn’t contribute a whole lot and would have worked great as a sort of side-kick to Ellison, but he does play the one guy who sort of believes in Ellison’s supernatural crap. Not fully, but sympathizes with him. And I admit that there are some pretty cool scenes toward the middle. There’s a scene where Ellison is searching his house and ghost children are fluttering around him that he doesn’t see, but they move like they’re in slow-mo. It’s a pretty neat effect. One of the host kids disappears really cool by literally jumping into the shadows.

However, this movie has more than a few flaws, or aspects that I don’t agree with.

For one, the design of Mr. Boogie is actually pretty lame. Now that I live in a post-VENOM era, he basically looks like a metal rocker with his face colored in Venom’s motif. I couldn’t entirely take it seriously.

The movie has a pretty slow pace in certain areas. Too much researching on other murders. It takes a little too long to discover Mr. Boogie and even longer to uncover his name. Hell, I’m pretty sure it’s at the two-thirds mark that we learn his backstory. Usually I’m good with slow burns, but there has to be something interesting going on and it really isn’t. This is also fueled by some pointless moments too. For example, there’s a scene where Trevor starts having night terrors, appears from a box and bends backward while screaming. While creepy, it ultimately doesn’t mean anything. It’s not like he’s ever possessed by Mr. Boogie or anything. Sure, someone could tell me that the terrors are triggered because this house is so powerfully linked to the supernatural, but that’s not exactly the best excuse, especially if his terrors don’t contribute anything to the story.

Also, is there no better way for Mr. Boogie to get his curse around other than a Super 8 camera? Give it a few decades, he’s going to have a pretty hard time finding anyone who can use it, let alone interested in it at all.

<<<SPOILERS – highlight to read>>> [ Also, what was the point of that scene with the ghost children that stalk Ellison? I know I said how the effects and visuals were cool, and separate that entire scene from the movie, and it’s downright creepy and impressive. But now that there’s a whole movie to put it into context, what were those kids there to do? Why were they making faces at him, watching him, chasing him only to turn into a room and avoid his gaze? That entire scene, in reality, makes no sense. Sure, we later discover that Ashley was getting possessed, based on the final scenes of the movie, but so much of the focus was on Ellison. Wouldn’t it have been interesting if we saw the ghosts looking at him and the rest of the family, as if they were studying them for Mr. Boogie? I don’t know, man, that scene just didn’t add up. ] <<<SPOILERS>>>

<<<CONTINUE SPOILERS>>> [ Doesn’t the ending feel like a cheap shot for a twist ending? Ashley’s the one who kills the family in the end? Why her? Wouldn’t it make more sense if it was Trevor? He’s the one who has night terrors and doesn’t remember being in the weird spots his dad finds him in, and he’s the one who got in trouble at school for drawing the tree with four hanged bodies with a permanent marker on a white board, and sees nothing wrong with it. Maybe too obvious, but it’s not like we know the rules of Mr. Boogie by this point. Ashley barely does anything other than… paint. ] <<<END SPOILERS>>>

Overall, not a great movie. It might have a few decent scares, but put them into context, they don’t always make sense in terms of the narrative. Some of the acting is fine, even really good, and some decent characters, but it only serves to balance it out. As a recommendation… meh, it’s not bad if you’re an Ethan Hawke fan, and I’m sure there’s more than a few horror nuts out there that will enjoy this, but as for the rest of us, it’s a pass. You’re not missing anything if you miss out. Not bad, not good, just okay.

My honest rating for SINISTER: 3/5


4 Replies to “SINISTER (2012) review – Halloween Special 2018”

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