Friday, October 12, 2012

Sinister [2012]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  Roger Ebert (3 Stars)  Fr. Dennis (1 Star)

IMDb listing -
CNS/USCCB review -
Roger Ebert's review -

Sinister (written and directed by Scott Derrickson) is a truly disturbing, hard-R movie that's definitely _not_ "for the little ones."  Indeed, I really don't see any particularly reason why an underage teenager should see a film like this except perhaps to "teach him/her a lesson" about the MPAA rating system (that sometimes they really do mean R) along with the advice "you know folks, you _can_ walk out of the film if it proves too much for you...

 About midway through the rather packed showing that I saw, a young couple did pick up and go, and I also packed-up and left before the end as well.   By that time, I honestly saw enough, knew pretty clearly where the film was heading and decided "Ya know I really don't need to see this all the way through..."   I do remind Readers here that there is absolutely nothing (except possibly "social control" ...) that would prevent anyone from doing the same with regards to a film that one's had enough of ...

So what then is the film about?  Ellison Oswalt (played by Ethan Hawke) moves him and his family (played by Juliet Rylance, Michael Hall D'Addario and Clare Foley) into the house where a grizzly multiple hanging (plus the disappearance of a little girl) had occurred some years earlier.  He's a "true crime" writer, having had some success 10 years back with a book called "Kentucky Blood" about some unsolved murders in, well, you can guess by the book's name.  Oswalt had since written a couple of other books, but none of the had the same success as his first.  By taking on this unsolved case (and moving into the house where it occurred) he dearly hopes to recapture some of his past success.

When the family arrives at the otherwise vacant house and begins to move in, he finds in the attic a box with some old super-8 films.  When he plays the tapes, he finds to his horror that they appeared to record a series of very grizzly murders, including the multiple hanging that occurred in the back of this house.  He comes to realize that all these grizzly murders were somehow linked.  Much, often in various shades of darkness, ensues from there ...

While certainly stunning, the grainy Super-8 films evoke a level of horrific realism that I do believe cross a line.  Yes they are "fake" but they are but _one step away_ from real "super 8" snuff films (depicting real murders and the torture of real human beings).  While their effect is certainly _unforgettable_, Readers and Parents especially would probably understand why I would warn them that this film really is a "hard-R" that isn't for the faint hearted and why I honestly question its value other to than really, really, really disturb people and mess with their minds.

Yes, some "true crime" is truly sickening.  Perhaps it even has a truly supernatural basis (which this film certainly suggests).  But honestly, there's no particular reason why one should have to watch it.  Yes, on one hand, this is a truly world class horror film (arguably it makes Scott Derrickson's previous film The Exorcism of Emily Rose [2005] seem like Disney).  On the other hand, to spend $10 on this to try to sit through a film like this at a movie theater?   Honestly, there are a lot of better (less stressful, more enjoyable) films out there to spend those $10 on ...

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