Sinister [Blu-Ray] Scott Derrickson

Sinister [Blu-Ray] Scott Derrickson
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By tapping into the voyeuristic impulse that draws people to indulge in the macabre, and through the effective, if manipulative, application of highly unsettling sound design to create an atmosphere of ominous dread, Scott Derrickson has crafted one of the more viscerally disturbing horror films in recent memory. As is the case with most exercises in terror, Sinister works best before the greater plot begins to cohere — what we don't know is always more frightening than what we can explain. Rarely one to tackle a genre script without it being at least a cut above average, Ethan Hawke stars as true crime writer Ellison Oswalt. Ten years have passed since his first hit, and with his star fading, his egocentric addiction to prestige steers him towards some poor decisions while researching his latest book. is shown in the film's creepy, grainy 8mm opening, a family was mysteriously hanged from a tree in their backyard. Ellison moves his family into that very house, without telling his wife, in order to get into the killer's headspace, and because a murder home is always a steal on the market. Things take a turn for the spooky when the desperate author finds a box containing a projector and several reels of Super 8 film in his attic that depict horrific murders dating back decades throughout the country. One of the elements that make Sinister stand out from its blood-soaked peers is how Ellison initially responds to his discovery: he calls the police. Of course, simply turning the materials over to the authorities wouldn't make for a very compelling film, so he hangs up, but at least he demonstrates a rational impulse, even if he specifically chooses to deny it. Arrogance and single-minded greed compel him to investigate further, certain that he stands a better chance of figuring out the mystery than the police, and his craving for money and status makes any associated risk to his family's well-being pale in comparison to the financial gains of cracking a case this big. How his unusual career and workaholic nature affect his wife and children is integral to the story, but unfortunately falls by the wayside as the mystery grows increasingly inexplicable via logical means. It's a shame, since the psychological aspect of how the mind processes acts of atrocity is the most compelling element of Sinister. Even though it loses its potency and threatens to fall into a pit of silliness as the situation becomes increasingly fantastical, the film is still competently crafted into a fairly harrowing experience where character motivations make a certain kind of sense, as long as you're willing to accept that someone would make different choices than you or I when faced with the intangible. Aside from the exceptionally disturbing use of sound, the movie is very well paced, with just enough comic relief, courtesy of Ben Ransome, as Deputy So-and-So, to relieve tension between bouts of spine-tingling dread. On this Blu-Ray release, the special features are refreshingly assembled by a filmmaker who understands what deeply invested viewers want and don't want from their bonus content. Resultantly, the extras come padding-free. Two featurettes separately explore facets of the practice of actual true crime writers and the lure of spending time at the scene of a tragic murder. Full of disturbing and fascinating information, both beg to be expanded into full-length documentary endeavours. On the technical side, Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill team up for a feature commentary and optional commentary on a duo of deleted scenes. Both men demonstrate a clear understanding of film and the intentions of each scene. As director, Derrickson has a firmer grasp on methodology and process, which is apparent in his highly informative and astute additional solo commentary. Even though it falls short of greatness, some aspects of Sinister will undoubtedly get under your skin. (Alliance)