Without giving away too much of the plot, I would like to explain why Sinister might arguably be by far one of the most rewarding, and – at the same time – one of the least offensive horrors of the last year. While the fact that the main idea presented in the film is sometimes poorly executed is rather discouraging, I think that Sinister is able to overcome many of its mistakes in a rather successful fashion.
First of all, I loved the way Sinister played with the concept of snuff films, making them one of the scariest and most shocking images seen during the whole movie. They add the much-needed amateurishness, so to say, and show a darker, more sinister side of the picture. Without any hesitation, they attack the audience with obscure recordings of some grizzly murders that look as disturbing and realistic as they definitely should.
Second of all, the amazingly climatic music sets the mood just right for a series of abrupt and unexpected scares. These aren’t just some silly cookie cutters, no. It’s rather a blend of electronic tunes and an a bunch of raw sounds combined together to intensify the unnerving and sombre ambiance every time something frightening and otherworldly is about to happen.
Third of all, Sinister doesn’t overuse the idea of paranormal activity and nightmarish creatures as such. The creepy ‘thing’ (to stay spoiler-free) is there, yes, but it appears only a few times in order to implement the possibility of an occultist presence. Even though the film ultimately fails to get rid of most of its clichés, they’re not really that striking and don’t downgrade the overall experience. Surprisingly, even the ending is as satisfying as it is abrupt and forced.
Unfortunately, the characters are rather superficial and one-dimensional, and their inability to think clearly is the film’s biggest problem. For a (un) trained eye the plot might seem predictable after some time, but the people involved in the whole horrendous intrigue can’t comprehended that they’re in grave danger, and that moving to a house, where people got killed before isn’t always a reasonable thing (the blame is on Ethan Hawke’s characters, just to be clear).
Sinister gives a reasonable amount of scares (although sometimes I wished for some more), and does so through a successful use of violent snuffs, grim and claustrophobic cinematography, and aforementioned distressing soundtrack. Even though Sinister doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, it’s both an eerie and enjoyable addition to the horror genre.