UTG’s 31 Days Of Halloween: ‘Sinister’

Sinister Feature Photo

Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is loved by the UTG staff more than Halloween. With October’s arrival, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a slew of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day.

Now in its fourth year, 31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring feature that will run throughout the month of October. The goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror (or Halloween-themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home.

This year, the entire 31 Days series is dedicated to the memory of our friend, Justin Proper. We wouldn’t have a film department without him, and he specifically helped pioneer our involvement in the horror genre. Rest in peace, JP.

Sinister poster

Day 10: Sinister (2012)

I think we can all mutually agree that children in horror movies are the absolute worst. I’m not sure if it’s the whole “tainted innocence” thing, or the fact that they always seem to be crab-walking all over the goddamn place, but regardless of how many times I see these diminutive demons on screen, they still manage to give me the heebie jeebies to no end.

If you’re the same way, you should probably make a point to avoid Scott Derrickson’s 2012 bloodbath, Sinister, which boasts an excess of undead kids, some wonderfully grisly deaths, and the best-dressed Pagan deity this side of Babylonia.

Set in small-town Pennsylvania, this frequently overlooked flick centers around true crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who has just moved into a new home with his wife, Tracy (Juliet Rylance), and their two children, Ashley (Clare Foley) and Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario). It’s a roomy, three-bedroom ranch with up-to-date appliances, plenty of storage space, and oh yeah–a family was hung from a tree in the backyard. How’s that for a conversation starter?

During the move-in, Ellison stumbles across a box in the attic containing a projector and a few reels of 8mm footage. Contrary to their seemingly innocent titles (“BBQ ’79,” “Pool Party ’66”), the long forgotten home movies actually turn out to be snuff films, each depicting the violent murders of a number of different families. So, like any able-bodied horror movie protagonist, rather than tell anyone, Ellison decides to start drinking like a college freshman and investigate.

If this sounds like a shitstorm waiting to happen, that’s because it definitely is. Things get progressively weirder around the Oswalt household, and Ellison soon begins to realize that he may be in way over his head. And he’s right.

sinister ellison

In all honesty, with the exception of a pretty unique storyline, Sinister isn’t particularly groundbreaking. It’s built around genre tropes, and probably leans a little too heavily on jump scares, which at times can be a little exhausting. But shortcomings aside, there is something inherently unnerving about this movie. Even before we as audience members are made fully aware of the terror that awaits the Oswalts, there is an underlying sense of dread lurking beneath every bit of exposition, and it will almost certainly drive you to the edge of your seat. Ethan Hawke’s performance as the increasingly obsessive patriarch is also noteworthy, perfectly adding to the ever-mounting tension.

Additionally, the imagery of Sinister also has nightmare-inducing potential. We’ve already established that little ghost children are worse than wet socks, but Bughuul–the above referenced Pagan deity–is also pretty freakin’ creepy despite looking like the guitarist of Slipknot. Coupled with some absolutely stomach-churning deaths, it may be smart to invest in some Unisom prior to your initial viewing, or at the very least consider locking up your lawnmower.

While Sinister is far from the scariest film I’ve ever seen, it still pairs perfectly with the eerie October nights that lay ahead. Fast-moving, easy-to-swallow, and filled with enough gasps to keep even hardcore horror buffs satiated, keep this one handy if you’re eager for some frightening fun this Halloween. Oh, and if you have an attic, play it safe and just never go up there.

Kyle Florence

Kyle Florence is a proud Wisconsinite, a dinosaur enthusiast, and a lover of all things weird and whacky.
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