Now Playing: Good Horror Gone Horribly Bad

Thanks to ‘Sinister’, I’ve finally learned my lesson. No longer will I believe any premature buzz for genre flicks. More often than not, early hype for a movie like this is the result of the studio screening it for “friendly” outlets that unabashedly ooze love for the genre. Practically every geekier-than-thou site on the web has already seen and praised this horror flick. (Hence the ridiculous 80% score at Rotten Tomatoes as I write this review on Tuesday night, Oct. 9th.) ‘Sinister’ may contain some very original and well-executed content, but it has an ending that’s terribly simplistic, unsatisfying and unfitting.

I wholeheartedly enjoyed the first two-thirds of ‘Sinister’. Ethan Hawke plays a washed-up writer who hasn’t had a hit book in over a decade. With funds running low, he’s taken to writing a series of horrific true stories about unsolved murders across the country. To write each one, he moved his wife and two kids to the towns where the killings occurred so that he could really dig deeply into the cases. This time, without his family knowing it, he’s moved them into the actual house where a family was mysteriously hanged on a tree in the back yard.

Of course, from the moment they move into the house, strange things start happening – loud thumps in the night, children behaving oddly, movements in the shadows, etc. Early on, Hawke finds several reels of Super 8 film that contain low-quality home movie footage of families being murdered. One reel shows the family hanged in the backyard. What do these films have in common? Who are the other families? How did these reels get into the house? Who shot the footage? That’s what we’re here to find out.

Like I said, the first two-thirds are pretty exciting. We’re given a bunch of puzzle pieces and, as Ethan Hawke’s character also attempts, we try to put them together. The big problem is that when we finally finish the puzzle, we learn that a bunch of the larger pieces were decoys that don’t even fit into this picture. Despite a strong emphasis early on, they’re absolutely unnecessary.

‘Sinister’ is a horror movie based on a great idea, but it’s incapable of capitalizing on what it has. Ultimately, it’s a waste of potential. It’s great for 75 minutes, but then turns absurdly stupid. We all deserve better than this.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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