Something sinister is in store for Ellison Oswalt and his family.
In the movie “Sinister,” crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) moves with his family into a new town to investigate a murder and a disappearance. He hopes that his investigations will lead him to publish a book that will end his family’s financial troubles.
When Ellison arrives in his new home, he discovers a box of home footage showing several other murders that Ellison believes may be connected. Ellison’s discovery ends up jeopardizing his life, as well as the lives of his wife and children.
“Sinister” begins with a clip of the home movie Ellison will discover later in the film, accompanied by eerie music. Viewers will find themselves intrigued and wondering what this home movie will have to do with the main characters.
Then, the film cuts to a scene in which Ellison, his wife and his two children are moving into their new home. The dynamic within the family is nothing new. There exists a predictable tension between a father, who believes he has made the right decision for his family, and a wife and children, who resist his efforts.
The film develops rather slowly. A majority of the action consists of Ellison watching the home movies he found in his attic over and over again, and trying to analyze them.
After a while, seeing Ellison watch these home movies becomes repetitive. Viewers may be left asking themselves when Ellison will finally leave his home and try to investigate the murders. Also, viewers never learn much more about the missing girl, who the police officer mentions in the beginning of the movie, leaving the audience feeling unfulfilled.
However, after nearly two hours of waiting throughout a slowly developing plot, the ending delivers a sudden and unexpected resolution, rewarding viewers for sticking with the film for that long.
One of the most entertaining aspects of the movie is the nervous and starstruck deputy officer (James Ransone) who has read Ellison’s books and is eager to help him in his investigation. The deputy’s often-inane remarks drew a few laughs from the audience.
In contrast, most of the characters are flat and underdeveloped. Ellison doesn’t seem nearly as disturbed by the events that unfold over the course of the movie, as he should be.
Finally, the concept of a writer, who moves to a haunting new location to work on his novel, is nothing audiences have not seen before. One might be reminded of “The Shining,” “Misery” or even “1408.”
While “Sinister” isn’t the kind of bone-chilling thriller you might be looking for on Halloween, the ending just might offer a big enough payoff to make it an entertaining film.
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