Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sinister : This Year's Insidious ... And That's Not A Bad Thing!


Gotta say before we begin here that I've really come to hate going out to the movies, which used to be one of my favorite things to do.  First off, the audience chit chat simply has got to fucking stop.  If you pay to go sit down and watch a movie for two hours, then please, keep your fucking mouth shut.  I don't want to hear you narrate the movie for me, I don't want to hear you giggle after you get scared, and I sure as shit don't want to hear your out loud predictions of what's gonna happen next (oooh, you so clever and funny!!!).  Theaters really need to start cracking down on this shit, and I'd be more than willing to pay a few extra bucks for my ticket for them to have security stand in the back of the theater, to kick people out for talking or playing around with their cell phones.  We have the option of ticking commentary tracks either on or off on DVDs, and we need to figure out some sort of way to do the same in the theater.  Us true lovers of cinema really need to work together to stop the audience commentary tracks, and take back the theaters.  I hereby vow that I will vote for any President who can promise such action.  Fuck foreign policy.  Stop the goddamn talking in the theater!!

Not only did I have to deal with constant audience chatter when I saw Sinister last night, but Jen and I in fact almost didn't even get to see the movie, due to complete incompetence on behalf of the theater we initially tried to go see it at.  Instead of seeing the movie at the theater that's in walking distance from our house, which I generally like to avoid, we decided to instead go a few towns over, grab some dinner at a little restaurant we like over there, and then hit up the 9:50pm showing.  We were done with dinner around 9, so we bought our tickets and then hung out in the car chatting until about 9:45 (me sipping a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks!), at which point we went into the theater, so we wouldn't miss the previews.  My heart sank when we walked into the theater, at about 9:46, and saw that the movie had already begun playing, and looked to be at least a couple minutes into the action.  Now I know a lot of people don't really care if they miss stuff when they go see a movie, and wouldn't really raise a stink in a situation like this, but I'm not one of those people.  If I'm paying 12 bucks to see a movie that I've been waiting months upon months to see, I am not fucking missing a single second of the movie.  It's because of this fact that I generally leave theaters with a whole lot of bladder pain.

We immediately walked out of the theater and I demanded my money back from the ticket seller, who was looking at me like I was a complete whack job for being pissed that they started the movie earlier than it was scheduled to start.  I'm sorry, but when a movie is scheduled for 9:50, that means that the trailers begin around 9:50, and the movie itself begins around 10.  They must've started the trailers around 9:30, and got the movie rolling at 9:40, which is complete and utter bullshit.  Thankfully, the dude gave our money back to us, and we quickly drove back to the theater right near our house to catch the 10:10 showing, which we were able to make it to.  Even though we got there at 10:10, on the button, we still caught all the trailers and didn't miss a single second of the movie.  At least somebody knows what they're doing.

It turned out that if we had stayed at the first theater we tried to see the movie at, we would've missed a super creepy and incredibly important opening credits sequence, which really would've left us confused as to what exactly was going on in the movie.  Again, the average movie goer might not have given a shit about missing a few minutes, being that they're there to talk and text anyway, but that shit just doesn't fly with me.  So Mattituck Cinemas, expect a letter from me real soon.  And get your shit together.

I know you folks came here to read my review of Sinister, and I apologize for wasting so much of your time ranting about my experience last night.  I just had to vent, and I thank you for allowing me to.  Even if you skimmed ahead to this point.  Now, let's begin!

For a good portion of 2012, I've been looking forward to Sinister, hopeful that it would inject some much needed goodness into the genre for the year.  2012 has been a pretty piss poor year for the horror genre, especially when it comes to theatrical releases, and I had a cautiously hopeful feeling that Sinister was going to be just what the doctor ordered, one of the few films of the year that would help us all look back on the entire year as a whole and have some good to say about it, rather than all bad.  In addition to the fact that the film was co-written and directed by Scott Derrickson, who previously wrote and directed The Exorcism Of Emily Rose, one of the rare modern day exorcism flicks that I actually enjoyed, I was also excited about the movie because of the involvement of Ethan Hawke, who I've always liked.  Hawke is not one of those whore actors who will take any job he's offered, just so he can buy a new car, so the fact that he was the star right off the bat brought some serious legitimacy to the proceedings.  If he was on board, I was on board.

Very happy to report that when I write up my best of the year list for 2012, Sinister will not only be on that list, but it will pretty high up on the list.  So I hope you get along with Cabin In The Woods, Sinister, because I've got a feeling you two are going to be spending a whole lot of time together on best of lists all over the web, in the coming months.  In fact, I'm 100% sure of it!

Sinister is quite frankly nothing new, on paper at least.  A family moves into a new home and the father begins discovering dark secrets about the house, secrets which put his whole family in jeopardy.  We've seen it all before.  But much like with Insidious, it's the super creepy and highly effective execution of that tale that makes the film standout.  And when I say super creepy, in reference to this movie, goddamn do I mean it!

Sinister does something really smart with the whole found footage sub-genre, which has become extremely old and tired over the years.  Rather than being a found footage film, which it's sort of advertised as, Sinister is actually a movie about a guy who quite literally FINDS creepy ass FOOTAGE, which he then uses to piece together the details of an insanely dark mystery that he's trying to solve.  We're brought along on that journey with him, finding out information only when he finds out information, and we of course get to watch that found footage with him as he watches it.  And let me tell you, that footage is some of the creepiest and most disturbing I have ever seen.  Those moments where Hawke is watching the footage he finds up in his attic are some of the most chilling moments in recent horror history, and are definitely the strong suit of the film overall.  Believe me when I say that you will not soon forget the imagery that you're subjected to in this film.  Night.  Terrors.

The real strength of Sinister though lies in the characters, most notably in Hawke's character (Ellison Oswalt), a true crime writer who most of the film is focused on.  Ellison is driven deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole in a desperate attempt to recreate past successes as a writer, and once again provide for his family, and it's that fear of failure that keeps Ellison chugging along, even though he knows deep down that getting involved in the shit he's getting involved in could end up hurting his family, the very thing he's most afraid of.  Ellison and his wife have constant fights over his extreme dedication to his work, work that is quite clearly having a negative impact on their two young children, and it's that family dynamic that makes Sinister such a compelling story, with palpable stakes.  As I always say, if you don't care about the characters at the heart of a horror film, and fully understand their fears and struggles, then none of the scary shit really means anything.  In Sinister, the scary shit is all the more scary because you just know that at some point, and on some level, this family that you've come to care for is going to be subjected to the same horrors that lie within the found footage.  I actually related a lot to the characters too, being that I'm a writer who sometimes devotes time to writing that he probably should be devoting to his family, so that added another layer to the film for me personally.

It's absolutely impossible to not draw comparisons between Sinister and the similarly titled Insidious from last year, both of which were produced by the same folks.  Sinister is more or less the kid brother of Insidious, in that it's got a personality and life all its own, but it's very much all around cut from the same cloth.  As someone who quite enjoyed Insidious, this is a good thing, but unfortunately some negative stuff does come along with that comparison.

It's very interesting because Sinister suffers from the same exact issues that I found within Insidious.  One of the fairly minor issues I had with Insidious were those ghost hunter characters, who brought an odd and totally unneeded sense of levity and humor to the film, which I felt hurt the overall impact of the film.  In Sinister, there's a deputy character who is equally goofy and out of place, and who brings along with him a break from serious levels of tension that the film really could've done without.

Remember the red faced Darth Maul villain from Insidious, who was fairly corny looking?  As you've probably noticed in the trailers for Sinister, this film has also got a villain who is a bit cheesy looking.  That said, I must say that 'Mr. Boogie' is a whole lot more effective in the context of the movie than he is out of context in the trailers, and I actually found myself pretty creeped out by the character, both during and even after the movie.  They even address the whole Norwegian death metal thing within the movie, so they seem to be aware that the look of Mr. Boogie (aka Bagul) is a bit kinda generic (in fact, Derrickson came up with his look based on images he found by searching the term 'horror' on Flickr).  But again, trust me when I say that he's far creepier in the movie than he is when you're just watching the trailer or looking at pictures online.  The fact that Bagul is a creature which lives within images in the film, and is brought out of those images when they're watched, is really smart writing because you kinda feel like you've invoked his wrath just by watching the movie, which I've got a feeling is really gonna scare the holy hell out of younger folks who watch the movie and then are forced to turn off all the lights and try to sleep.  And when I say younger folks, I mean me.

So yea, both of these minor issues actually work a whole lot better in Sinister than they do in Insidious, and pose less of an overall problem to the film.  But the real negative similarity between the two films is that much like Insidious, Sinister takes a bit of a nosedive in the latter portions, and heads into hokey territory.  An incredibly strong buildup, rife with tension and pure and utter fear, sort of devolves into generic haunted house scares, with a payoff that's a lot less effective than everything that leads up to it.  Basically, the parts where Ethan Hawke is trying to piece together the mystery, and the effects that detective work has on his family, are a whole lot more effective and edge of the seat inducing than things are when he actually does piece everything together.  It doesn't help that Bagul's diabolical plans are pretty much spoiled in the trailers, which definitely hurts the movie's ability to shock and surprise towards the end.  So thanks, trailers.

But again, much like Insidious, Sinister rises past its shortcomings and its unimpressive finale, to be one of the better horror films of the year.  In fact, I think I'd have to say that I'm even more of a fan of Sinister than I was Insidious.  It's one of those films that I can't wait to watch on Blu-ray, at home alone in total darkness, and truly have the shit completely scared out of me.  Hard to get that in a theater full of talking people, but there were definitely several moments in there that creeped the ever loving shit out of me.

Bottom line being, go see Sinister this weekend.  It's one of the best of the year, and it more than deserves your money!

One last thing I want to mention is that my night ended on the absolute perfectly terrifying moment last night, after getting home from seeing the movie.  Jen and I live in a house that my uncle used to own when I was a kid, and he used to tell my brother and I that the Boogeyman lived down there.  For that reason, our basement has always creeped me out, and I have a fear pretty much every night that I'm gonna hear banging or freaky noises down there, as I lay in bed.  After getting home from Sinister, and laying in bed, I actually thought to myself that I really hope I don't hear anything down there, especially not on a night like tonight.  Right as I was about to fall asleep, with Jen and the cats all snug in bed with me, everyone suddenly jumped awake at the sound of some very loud banging in the basement, my biggest fear for the night come to life.  There's no way any animals can get down there and it's hard to believe that anything could just fall over on its own, so I was highly scared by this, admittedly too scared to even go down and investigate.  Hey, can ya blame me?  If movies like Sinister teach me anything, it's that you should never investigate creepy noises!

This morning, under the comfort of daylight, I checked the basement and found nothing amiss, unable to identify any potential source of the noise.  Still have no idea what caused it, which is even creepier.

So yea.  Gotta give serious props to any horror movie that comes home with me, and affects the way I sleep afterwards.  So job well done on that Sinister, you creepy fuck you!


Sean said...

These are all reasons I see movies in the early afternoons now. No kids, and usally very few people at all.

Anonymous said...

LOL Love what you did with the poster XD
Either that, or she's started ruining movie posters as well!

movie lad said...

Super blog you have here. Can't read pass your venting because I don't want even a light spoiler on "Sinister" But I got to say, you're right on the shit-chatting and the fucking cell phones. WTF people need to turns those off. We love the smart phone age, but those things have become an annoyance in theaters, lately. Bringing BABIES... WTF!!! A BABY? Nothing against babies, but who the hell brings a baby to a scary or loud scary movie? Happened to me. The baby crying throughout... Where is security with their flashlights; to keep the audience in place? They need to remove people like that from the theater, refund their money of course, ask them to come back when they learn to be more considerate to other movie goers. And I can't believe they started the movie early... What was that all about? They better not start that! I for one, use to get so frustrated; having to sit there waiting for the movie to start. Desperately watching the commercials, previews and trailers. Then I got use to it. Gives people a chance to get drinks and popcorn. Go to washroom and settle down. People don't expect the movie to start for like 30mins after the time on their tickets no more. So what happened to you is a HUGH FUCK UP! I hope I don't get. You have every right to be upset! Good luck on your next movies night out. Cheers :)

Johnny said...

I personally love the trailers and like ya said, it gives you time to get snacks, go to the bathroom, settle in, and even show up a wee bit late, without missing any of the movie itself. The trailers should begin at the time the movie is scheduled to play, that's the way it's always been every time I go to the theater, except this time. Unacceptable!

Mikey Venture said...

I saw the red ban trailer a few months ago and have been avoiding any TV spots for it, because I knew some marketing jackass would ruin the scares by showing all of the good parts. Glad I did too. I really fell the soundtrack they used for the found footage was very nightmarish and surreal. Honestly, I would not be surprised if there was a little bit of back masking, and subliminal messaging going on there.

hamza nasir said...

sinister is a very scary and excellent horror film its the best horror film in last decade and is way better than insiduous also what makes sinister good is the acting hats off to ethan hawke outstanding performance