Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sinister (2012) - Review

There are two types of modern horror films: the ones like The Conjuring, and the ones like Sinister.  The ones that try for subtle creepiness and building tension, and the ones that beat you with a hammer made of loud jump scares.  Yes, like most movie critics, I'm not a huge fan of obnoxiously loud orchestral jump scares.  But I've also noticed that I'm a bit of a hypocrite at times too, because in some films I'm completely willing to look past them.  See Drag Me to Hell for an obvious example: that movie is full of jump scares, but it's one of my favorite horror movies of ever, so what do I know?

The most disappointing thing about Sinister is that it didn't have to be this loud, dumb movie.  It really didn't.  Because half of it is actually just about perfect.  See, the movie is divided in two pretty distinct categories: regular horror tripe, and masterfully crafted snuff film scenes.  The snuff scenes, viewed by the main character on an old projector, are excellently made, devoid of sound (other than a hauntingly avant-garde score rattling out in the background in a few places) and full of brutal imagery.  They are simply beautiful.  In the scary sense, of course.

If the rest of the movie was as good as these segments, it would be a classic, hands down.  But unfortunately, most of the great sequences occur within the first half of the movie, leaving the parts in between and after to be filled by silly horror cliches trying way too hard to be scary.  The thing is, unlike James Wan's recent horror works, this one isn't particularly fun.  Insidious and The Conjuring are gleefully frightening, but this one is really too dark to be that entertaining or rewatchable.  I guess that's a price that you pay when you go for the snuff film angle, but it is really a detriment to the film.

The villain of the movie is completely over-the-top and stupid looking, but you would know that if you watched the trailer.  Aside from that, the movie is pretty well-made, despite the annoying jump scares.  There are several genuinely creepy moments in the 'good' half of the film, and the entirety has solid, if unremarkable acting and cinematography.  But when it comes down to it, Insidious is just a better synonym for evil than Sinister is.

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