It’s almost Halloween, and you know what that means: a plethora of horror movies and a dearth of quality film making  Although standard scary movie fair, Sinister may end up one of 2012’s foremost horror releases.

The outset of the film is tragically familiar: a family moves into a new house, discovers some unknowable evil, is haunted by said evil. Some dramatic tension breaks the monotony: Ellison, father and sole breadwinner of the family, is a true crime author in desperate search of a new story. Feeling his career stagnate, Ellison moves his family to a new home—which was, unbeknownst to all but Ellison, the scene of a grisly lynching of (you guessed it) a family of four.

All the while, Ellison claims to be writing true crime for justice over profit—that his books help illuminate facets of real-life crimes that the law may have overlooked. This deception of his family in favor another shot at fame directly contradicts his own raison d’écriture—but a hit novel would secure his family’s future. Ellison’s muddy loyalties add an element of interpersonal drama and tension to the standard “jump-scares-and-dramatic-irony” mold of modern horror films (though Sinister is rife with those, anyway).

The film perpetuates some of the more clichéd elements of today’s horror films—there’s a (fictional) ancient pagan deity involved, emphasis on predation of children, and a kid drawing creepy things on walls. A few plot twists, while not mind-bending, will keep most from predicting the end, and the film never lets the viewer get too comfortable.

Clichés aside, the movie makes for an entertaining horror flick. (At the very least, it’s way better than The Devil Inside.) There’s not much novel about Sinister—but it’s not always about doing something new. Sometimes, it’s just about doing old stuff better than the other guys.


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