'Sinister' makes me want to destroy family pictures and videos
It's not often I watch a trailer for a horror movie and get goosebumps. But that's exactly what happened when I watched the trailer for Sinister, an upcoming horror movie from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious (which I loved).
So what is Sinister about? Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist trying to write his next big novel. He moves his family into a new house and discovers a box in the attic that contains mysterious, disturbing home movies. The movies are of previous families that lived in the house, and it shows how each family died. The side effect is that his family is now thrust into a nightmarish experience with the pagan deity named Bagul, who uses recorded images to travel between dimensions, consuming the souls of children.
Sinister has horror elements that I, specifically, find unsettling. Now, I've seen plenty of movies where a family moves into a house, their children become possessed or haunted by a demon, and the father trying to save his family. I've seen horror movies where the supernatural affect the character through films or pictures. But there's something about Sinister that isn't like those other horror movies. I really find contorted bodies creepy. And whenever little children are the ones being affected, I find it super creepy. It feels a lot like Insidious, with really disturbing shots of the demon, unnerving imagery, and yea, anything with children.
If there's one thing I've learned from the trailer, it's that if you move into a house and find a mysterious box filled with home movies... burn it. Don't watch it. Nothing good will come from it. As a matter of fact, never go into the attic. Just pretend you don't have an attic, because everyone knows that the attic is where scary things come from. I have a small attic. I've lived in my home for four years. Want to know how many times I've been in my attic? Twice a year — to take the Christmas tree out and put the Christmas tree away. And there's a dark corner I won't even go near. Needless to say, this movie won't help me with my attic-phobia.
So who are the people responsible for the vibe of Sinister? Producer Jason Blum is one of those people. Blum has had a really good track record with horror films. The feel of this film is definitely not like your cheesy, typical horror movie. If I keep saying it feels a lot like Insidious, well that's because Blum produced Insidious. He's also produced each and every one of the Paranormal Activity movies. He is even working again with Oren Peli on Area 51, another horror film. Oh, and if you want to see a new found-footage film from him, The Bay looks really different.
Teaming up with Blum is writer-director of Sinister, Scott Derrickson. Derrickson is best known for writing and directing the Exorcism of Emily Rose, which was a sort of hybrid crime-horror film. Both Blum and Derrickson build a lot of tension in their movies. There's not a ton of gore or anything like that. It's supernatural horror that is all about suspense, uncomfortable scenarios and really creepy imagery. Once again, they all love to pick on children in these type of movies.
I was also curious of the casting choice of Ethan Hawke. I've been a fan of Hawke since Gattaca, but I don't associate him with horror movies. Outside of the vampire movie Daybreakers — which was just as much action as it was horror — I associate him more with drama/thrillers than I do with anything scary. But maybe that's what makes him look so good in Sinister, the fact that he comes off as someone truly terrified of what could be happening to his family.
In Sinister, they're using Bagul, a pagan deity that consumes the souls of children. There's not discernible features to his face. He has a greyish color to him and stringy black hair. And that scene where he slowly turns around in the pool — all the hairs on my arm stood on end. I tried to find if Bagul was an actual deity from literature, or if he was made up for this film. I couldn't find anything on Bagul, so I'm assuming that this image-dwelling demon is from Derrickson's twisted mind.
As a fan of Insidious and the Paranormal Activity films, I'm going to see Sinister, as all the elements I've mentioned gets me really excited for it. But I'm going to have to see it alone. My wife doesn't do scary movies. And I'm not gonna bring along one of my guy friends and grab his leg when I'm scared. I guess my only question left is: if I'm watching a movie where Bagul will haunt you after you see him in film/photos, does that mean my family is in some trouble?
Sinister releases October 12th.
You can follow Movies and Culture Editor Lance Liebl on Twitter @Lance_GZ