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The most frustrating aspect of Sinister, the new ghost story from Exorcism of Emily Rose director Scott Derrickson, is how good it is. Were it a standard Hollywood frightfest, it'd be easy to forgive Derrickson's reliance on tired horror clichés. But Sinister is way better than that. It's endlessly creepy, refusing to relent as it builds to a grotesque climax made all the more horrifying by a setup that takes pains to let you know that nobody—children, chief among them—is safe from the slowly percolating evil. The film chronicles the unraveling of Ellison Oswalt (a terrific Ethan Hawke), a true-crime novelist who unknowingly moves his family to the former house of his latest subject: a young girl who went missing after her family was massacred. After coming across a stack of old Super 8 reels in the attic, he discovers that the murders are actually part of an interrelated series of gruesome cult rituals spanning decades. Derrickson ratchets the tension through a series of gory flashbacks and disquieting encounters with the unknown, turning the screws of horror in an old-fashioned, Polanski-esque descent into dread. But he insists on countering each slick move with a dumb one, and by the time the requisite twist ending hits, there's a sense that maybe he emptied his bag of tricks a little too soon. But damned if it isn't a deeply unsettling and terrifyingly entertaining ride before it plateaus into convention.

  • Genres: Horror, Thriller
  • Running Time: 109 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, October 12, 2012
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Disturbing Violent Images, Some Terror ]
  • Critic's Score: B-
  • Starring: Ethan Hawke [Ellison], Vincent D'Onofrio [Prof. Jonas], James Ransone [Deputy], Fred Thompson [Sheriff], Clare Foley [Ashley], Juliet Rylance [Tracy], Michael D'Addario [Trevor], Victoria Leigh [Stephanie], Nicholas King [Mr. Boogie]
  • Directed by: Scott Derrickson [Director], Scott Derrickson [Screenwriter], C. Cargill [Screenwriter], Jason Blum [Producer], Brian Kavanaugh-Jones [Producer], Scott Derrickson [Executive Producer], Charles Layton [Executive Producer], Chris Norr [Cinematographer], Frédéric Thoraval [Film Editor], Christopher Young [Original Music], David Brisbin [Production Design], John Manahi [Production Design], Sarah Dennis [Set Decoration], Abby O'Sullivan [Costume Designer], Sheila Jaffe [Casting], Ruth Salen [Casting]
  • Visit the Movie Website | Watch the trailer

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  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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