Film Review: Sinister

Sinister may disappoint horror movie fans, but may be just the thing to welcome in newbies to the genre.

Let me first say that I try to avoid horror movies, but having taken an Introduction to Film course back in university, I have grown to appreciate the genre. In some cases, horror movies are cautionary tales and/or they remind us of societal expectations.

From the start, Sinister piqued my interest. Old movie footage displays four family members struggling a foot off the ground with burlap sacks over their heads and a noose around their necks. Slowly, one of the tree’s branches begins to fall and the family start to lift together off the ground, beginning to strangle until they die.

Two questions come to mind: Who killed them? And why did they video tape the murders?

Next, you meet the Oswalt family. They’re moving into the very house the murdered family had lived in. Ellison, the patriarch of the family, is a true-crime novelist who decides to move his family here so he can work on his next novel. The day they first move in, he finds a box with a projector and six old home movies, but they are not what they seem. After a few minutes of watching some happy family memories, they become something more horrific. Someone has filmed the murders of each family. As Ellison tries to get closer to the truth, he realizes that something supernatural may have been the cause of these murders and the kidnapping of the youngest children from the six families.

Here’s the trailer:

Favourite moment: Right after an explosion of terror, Ellison and the deputy, who helps him with the murder cases, have a chat about it. The writer is absolutely terrified and hopes to confide in someone. The deputy is a bit of a ditzy fellow, but I appreciated the humour he provided to ease the tension from the previous scene.

Least favourite moment: One of the “home videos” shows someone mowing over a family. I kept thinking about it well after I left the theater. It’s my pick for the most grotesque scene in the film.

I’m a little bit on the fence with Sinister.

Sometimes, the movie felt like it moved too slowly. There weren’t many scary moments, and when there were, it was little things like animals or people suddenly appearing, something falling to the floor and making a loud sound, or floors creaking. Some people did scream in the theater, but I only ended up jumping in my seat once. Since I feel like I scare easily, this may be a sign to frequent horror movie goers that Sinister may not provide the scares they desire.

Of course, there were things I did like about the movie. It got me hooked from the very start, getting me curious about the murders and how it all happened. I’m a fan of folklore too, so learning the mythology of the Bughuul, a Babylonian god who eats children’s souls, was very interesting.

For Horror movie fans, I recommend being cautious. It may not be the scariest or the most gore-tastic film you’ve seen. For anyone who wants to try getting into the genre, I recommend trying this one out.

I'm a quiet girl with a lot to say. I'm a self-proclaimed geek girl, book worm, and social media addict. I'm the digital marketing manager for PaperDroids, so you've probably spoken to me on Twitter or Facebook, or if not, come say hi! I also have a book blog called Feisty Little Woman (, where I write about strong female characters and their importance in novels and share my expertise about the publishing world.

  • Anonymous

    no one can tell me if the short scene with the dog in it is a rot or a mastiff! help?

    • It looked more like a mastiff than a rottweiler to me. Hope that helps!

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  • Basically the tree branch is like a mechanism that lifts them higher up. Check out the trailer to see it happen.

    I know right? He was probably my fav. character.

    • Ariel Kroon

      Ohhh, okay. I envisioned them already on the ground, with the tree branch then lowering, which is a pretty fail murder machine, if you think about it ๐Ÿ˜›

      • Well, there’s also other factors involved too as to why the family is murder as is. The branch is also a necessary weigh because the murder isn’t strong enough to lift the family and hang them. It took me until 2/3 of the movie to finally figure it out whodunnit.

  • Ariel Kroon

    I am a little confused – in the first scene you say it opens with them a foot above the ground, but then you say that the tree branch starts to fall, which makes them lift off the ground? It’s not working in my head!

    Props for describing a dude as ditzy, though. Doesn’t happen often enough ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • Elissa Smith

    I don’t know if anyone caught it, but there was a period of time where the wikipedia entry for this movie insisted that the movie ended with the demon informing Ethan Hawke “you’ve just been bagul-ed!”

    …I love the internet sometimes.

    • If that happened, I would have laughed so hard.

  • Tiffany Morris

    Ooh, Babylonian gods! I love me some supernatural horror, especially when it takes cues from particular cultures/mythologies.

    • I adore it too. It’s only a small part in the film. I would have liked them to elaborate more on it, but that’s just me and my love of mythology.

      • AR

        were there any kind of animals (cat/dog) in the movie…im not to keen on that kind of stuff ๐Ÿ™

        • I’m not sure I understand your question. Are you asking if there is any animal violence in the movie?

          There’s only brief moments of the main character getting scared by a scorpion and snake. Also, a dog appears in one scene, but no harm comes to the animal.

  • I`m the same way. I rather watch a horror movie in the privacy of my own home so I don`t look like an idiot. But I feel like I did good for my first time watching one in a theater.

  • Elissa Smith

    I keep hearing really good things about this movie. Maybe I’ll wait for it to come out on DVD, since I get scared really easily.