Sinister

 (13,624)
6.81 h 50 min2012X-RayR
A true crime writer moves his family into a home where the previous occupants were brutally executed, hoping to find inspiration in the crime scene.
Directors
Scott Derrickson
Starring
Ethan HawkeJuliet RylanceJames Ransone
Genres
SuspenseHorror
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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More details

Supporting actors
Clare Foley
Producers
Scott DerricksonCharles Layton
Studio
AMC Plus Horror
Rating
R (Restricted)
Content advisory
Violencefoul language
Purchase rights
Stream instantly Details
Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
Available to watch on supported devices

Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

13624 global ratings

  1. 68% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 16% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 10% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Frequency JonesReviewed in the United States on September 28, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A truly Sinister movie
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Boards of Canada is the soundtrack of this movie. If you've heard of them, you now have an idea of just how creepy this movie is. If you've never heard of BoC, I won't ruin the surprise. Few movies spook me. I am a horror movie freak. I love a movie that can give me the chills but there have been so few and far between lately. Then along comes this movie. Sinister. It gives a whole new, different perspective on 16mm films. Ethan Hawke plays a true-crime novelist on the fringe of becoming a has-been. He moves his entire family into a house where a dark and terrifying murder had taken place a few years prior. All that was left was a box of old movies and a 16mm projector. The rest is history. I love this movie. It's the kind of horror flick you can watch and get spooked. There are different kinds of horror films. Ones you can make fun of. Ones you can spoof. Terrible horror films that are more comedy than horror. And the truly spooky. This movie is hardcore #4 all the way. And worth every second.
72 people found this helpful
W.Reviewed in the United States on November 24, 2019
2.0 out of 5 stars
Ruined by supernatural elements, lazy writing, and terrible CGI
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I'll echo a lot of the other reviewers - it started out with great promise, then tanked hard. I'm not giving away spoilers because the movie shines and subsequently ruins itself within like the first 20 minutes. It's pretty disappointing. Basically, a writer moves his family into a home where the previous family was brutally killed. It's an unsolved case. He soon discovers a box of "home movies" left deliberately in the attic. To his shock, they are snuff films of this murder and several other family murders. He plays the movies and... wow. They are highly disturbing; the hair stood up on the back of my neck with that awful music. I was hooked. I love horror movies and it is so rare to find one these days that is legitimately scary. I thought, "this is gonna be epic."

Unfortunately, the movie peaks there and the writers phone it in for the rest. He notices what looks to be the murderer in one of the shots, who apparently is someone wearing a mask from the Scream movie. So utterly stupid. I guess they could have continued along this supernatural vein had they used a lot of subtlety, to draw the audience in and be convincing - but NO. They overwhelm the movie with a lot of seriously cheesy CGI and horribly bad makeup of ghosts/demons. It's just so bad, like something you'd see from high school amateurs doing a film project. It's also what we have seen SO many times from other typically lower budget, cheap thrill horror movies. But this one has Ethan Hawke, and a very promising setup - what a waste! It's tiresome, unoriginal, stupid, not scary. You go from feeling totally creeped out watching Sinister to rolling your eyes and saying, "really?" I'm not sure why they started off with a bang and just stopped caring completely. I heard that this movie was inspired by The Ring - which is an insult to The Ring.

Know what would have been really scary? If there was nothing supernatural going on at all, and a serial killer was supplying a writer with graphic videos of his kills for his new book, or to simply terrorize him. If I asked you what would be scarier, if you imagined yourself in the position of the main character who is noticing shady stuff going on - that realistic premise about a serial killer toying with you or this ludicrous supernatural explanation - you would pick that premise, because if you explain this movie to someone it is so stupid and laughable. They could have introduced a supernatural element that wasn't so obviously lazy and dumbed down for the audience. This is more challenging to execute, but it pays off when it's done well. They could have done so much more with this movie than play around with awful special effects and resort to stupid cliches, especially when it came to who do it (you'll know what I mean - ugh!!!) None of it was believable or scary. You need one of those to be a horror movie. I wish someone could use the first 20 minutes of the plot and take it somewhere worthwhile. It could have been great.
24 people found this helpful
Dean OldfieldReviewed in the United States on October 29, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
2.2 stars somebody turn on the lights
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I couldn't tell whether they forgot to pay their electric bill or were just trying conserve energy. I wanted to like this film but was unable to see most of it, how did the actors even know where their marks were? I swear every light that was lit only had a 12 watt bulb in it, who walks around their house in the dark ALL THE TIME? It didn't create atmosphere, it just made me wonder constantly why are all the lights out?
17 people found this helpful
T-HawkerReviewed in the United States on March 22, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Do not listen to the haters on this one!
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To those who say this movie is not scary: something is wrong with you. You probably need help.

A proper blend of mood, lighting, music, story and character development. A good horror movie does not need blood and guts. Sinister was made to get a PG-13 rating but received the R rating on content alone. Ethan Hawke gives a good performance as the protagonist. Scott Derrickson gives good direction to the cast. The performances were believable, the music keeps your attention and the slow building plot unfolds in a logical manner with a surprise waiting at the end.

Not the best horror movie ever made, I'm not saying that. But I am saying this was a solid movie that shook me to the core. Beware! This one may stay with you.
56 people found this helpful
Anados DeferedReviewed in the United States on April 27, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Be Careful What You Ask For
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This is a film about madness. Evil. Which crept its way into the lives of a family. Into their minds. Their souls. Long before we meet them. Worse. A trusted family member paved the way for the corruption of innocence. For that possession.
Nietzsche wrote stare into the abyss, it stares back at you. Here we see that. Literally.
This film creeps up on you and never lets you go. From the beginning frames. With rare exception the film unfolds from Ellison Oswalt, the main character's point of view. What he sees or does. Or more to the point, what he doesn't see or do. What he should have recognized, should have done, etc.
Having Ethan Hawke as the main character was a great choice for one reason. For me he has a long history of playing deeply troubled characters who undergo some transformation. He excels at being malign, unsympathetic, destructive. Here Ellison Oswalt is not uncaring. He is deeply flawed. Multiple deep flaws. Starting with classic Greek myth hubris. To regain that last shot at fame and notoriety. Along with that comes blindness. A dismissal of anything that interferes. Reality can be denied only so long. So far. A blindness to what an already troubled daughter paints on walls. Unicorns in black storm clouds.
And that long-haired son who oozes screaming out of a cardboard box due to night terrors? Distortions of truth to his wife.
Then add obsessional curiosity. He HAS to look. The warnings are there. A classic three: scorpion, snake, black dog. The progressive worsening of his reactions, increased maladaptive coping.
We never see the Oswalt family before they are damaged. We see others, unaware, of their horrific fate, through a medium once benign, commonplace. Home movies. That hideous twist is the hallmark of great horror.
People are familiar with the phrase the eyes are the windows of the soul.
What enters those eyes have a consequence; to paraphrase - if what enters your eyes is evil, your whole body becomes darkness.
How this happens?
The clever mechanism is an invented Babylonian pagan diety Bughuul - "eater of children" who comes to possess the children - body and soul. Through being viewed by a child. An image made manifest. The literature of possession provides examples of how new abilities, unusual knowledge is gained by those affected. Add to that the influence of anger, resentment, bitterness at being uprooted from one's previous home. Fertile ground for evil to take root.
And that darkness in the soul is reflected in the literal darkness of the film itself - intended by the director. Only when other characters come in does that darkness dissipate - only for a time. Ellison lacks the tools to combat that inevitable darkness - that small flashlight? Emblematic of his inadequacy to fight or dispel externally what he has promoted internally.
The daughter's final ironic comment that she is going to make him famous again - give him what he so badly wanted - so perfect. Be careful what you ask for - the lesson of great horror.
The soundtrack is perfect for accentuating the terror felt by the characters - and by the viewer. In the commentary the director refers to European bands I never heard of - nor could I find any reference. Loud sudden noises, repetitive disturbing sounds - short techno synth loops to create and and accentuate the mood. Excellent.
It is not that the mechanisms and devices used are new that makes this film worthwhile. It is how and why they are used to create that overall effect.
Here I am left with that disquieting, disturbing, creepy residue afterward. On top of the horror and fright during.
A word about the supporting cast. None outshines or usurps the other. Perfect ensemble acting.
Great film entertainment.
I loved this film.
20 people found this helpful
R. StoneReviewed in the United States on October 27, 2021
1.0 out of 5 stars
Slow, boring, not scary found footage film about a guy who watches movies in the dark
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I wanted to like this film. Ethan Hawke is solid. He usually chooses interesting projects on which to lend his talent. But this one is a flaming pile of garbage pushed off the edge of a cliff.

The premise is that a struggling author moves his family into the home where some murders took place so that he can write a book about the murders and make some money. He finds some films of murders in the attic but decides against telling his family or the police because this move makes no sense at all.

Then he spends half the movie watching the films and nothing actually happens in the movie. No plot advancement, no interesting developments, no anything. Just the guy waiting for his family to go away so he can watch some more movies and not tell anyone about them.

The "suspenseful" sections weren't actually suspenseful because you know the screenwriters just want long scenes with no action because they can't be bothered to write an actual movie. Imagine if The Blair Witch Project were just an hour of people walking around and not talking at all, and that would still be more interesting than this movie about a guy watching movies.

Skip it.
9 people found this helpful
Michael B. MctigheReviewed in the United States on October 16, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Fourteen years later and they still keep ripping off Ring (1998)
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I wanted to give it one, but just couldn't bring myself to give a competently made film that low of a score. As much as I'd like to knock Scott Derrickson fans down a peg for loving an artless director, he's credible from the perspective of being able to make a good looking film. It's not his fault Hollywood no longer takes risks. This movie sucks and the whole subgenre of creepy supernatural kids (usually accompanied by a boogeyman) is crap. It reminds me of the slasher craze in the 80s and early 90s that produced (I'd wager) about 50 knockoffs of the legitimately good Halloween.

I think horror has gotten much better at least in the past five years, and Sinister certainly is probably better than some before it, but it is also the last gasps of a subgenre that should have never spawned so many movies (much like slasher). Most of the movie I sat around just waiting for Ethan Hawke to die because d'uh. The movie develops ABSOLUTELY NO ONE besides Hawke's character, and his only barely. (SPOILERS) When the daughter comes to kill him at the end saying "don't worry daddy, I'll make you famous" - that line would have impact if they set up their relationship somehow but they don't. Contrast this with films like The Exorcist and The Shining - they really spend time on the family drama and family dynamics. In this they just don't.

You know what would also be cool? If it wasn't supernatural. It's so obvious from the beginning where these movies are heading. Contrast again with The Shining or Exorcist on how minimalist they were with the portrayals of their "monsters" and "demons" to the point where you, the audience member, were questioning what was real and fake. In this CGI jump scare, creepy kids, forced disturbing imagery. I've seen a lot of adult movie reviewers praise this - but honestly it feels like something that would only impress teenagers. "Oh man Skyler, did you see that family getting hung, gnarly". Okay, I don't know how teenagers talk anymore but you get the idea.

These movies just suck. Go rediscover In the Mouth of Madness or the work of George A Romero and don't waste your time on this dreck.
6 people found this helpful
BboynekoReviewed in the United States on September 6, 2016
4.0 out of 5 stars
Horror Movie Bingo, but still enjoyable, extremely well filmed
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You could play horror movie bingo with this movie. Perfect, white family. Obsessed Father. Weird, potentially occult-connected child. Murder House. Sheriff telling family to get out of town. Weird artifact in attic. Jump Scares. Found footage. The works! However it was still very enjoyable and genuinely creepy and scary. My biggest criticisms are that the main villain design is not very scary, and of course the lack of originality.

But this movie is SO well filmed. Some of the camera angles are outstanding, many scenes are shot without a cut, which really brings you into the movie. Sound design is outstanding, lots of realistic atmospheric creaking..great creepy soundtrack. Fantastic acting by every single cast member. Great writing. So despite the formulaic movie, it's executed so well I can't complain. It's like having a particularly good Hamburger. Sure you've had a million before, but this one was made super well.
22 people found this helpful
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