I’ve been looking for a horror film that actually scares me for some time now. I’ve frequented horror message boards to ask hardcore fans about whether they have seen any scary films recently and Sinister kept being suggested. One guy said to me;
‘ I don’t know if it was my environment, the plot, the tension, the music (oh god, the music in that movie, the f***ing music) or what, but I was genuinely scared.’
This seemed enough of a recommendation to rent the film on my AppleTV and settle in for a Sunday morning horror treat. And settle I did, all too easily, into a film that resorted to tame jump scares, revealing the ‘horror’ too early, and shooting everything at night with white backlights and Hammer Horror fog. I’m not sure if it was the beers the night before or the fact it was Sunday morning, but I found myself tired and bored.
Ethan Hawke, a true crime novelist, his wife, two children and Christmas cardigan move to a new house. Unbeknownst to his family, the house happens to be the location of a quadruple murder and kidnapping and they have relocated to enable Hawke easy investigation into the murders and a quick finish of his newest crime book. Selfishly, he doesn’t reveal the house’s history to his family and it takes some night terrors from his son and a visit from a ghost to his daughter for his wife to find out anything. By this point we have seen creepy super 8 home videos showing previous murders of varying brutality, complete with a clichéd score – I was expecting plinky-plonk creepy nursery rhymes but sadly I was disappointed – and jump scares of the most obvious order. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few points before the reveal that had me feeling a little bit uncomfortable but nothing more than that.
I’ve heard people say that the supernatural doesn’t scare them anymore and that the only truly terrifying movies are home invasions because they hold some semblance of reality. While I agree with this to some extent, I still think it is still possible for the supernatural to be scary if it is done well. Miike’s One Missed Call has a final act that ramps up to 11 and has some properly scary set pieces. When Yumi and her friend are in the abandoned hospital there are at least two moments in which my bottom tried to eat my boxers; the woman on the ceiling…eeek. Sadly the same cannot be said for Sinister. It lacked any real bite to the horror, was replete with terrible exposition over iChat (Apple features heavily as telecommunication and personal computer supplier in this movie) and I didn’t hit the heights I was warned about or what I personally expected. So is Sinister scary? No. Unfortunately, this Sunday morning my boxers remained uneaten.