Ethan Hawke stars as a true crime novelist who moves into a house where a family was mysteriously hanged from a tree in their back yard. He finds 8mm home movie reels in the attic, each a snuff film of various families in different locations over a period of forty years. With the help of a deputy (James Ransone) and a college professor knowledgeable in the occult (Vincent D’Onofrio), he discovers the deaths are indeed connected — and that his own family may now be part of the killer’s grand plan.
Sinister has a fairly original and potentially compelling premise and delivers a satisfying ending for horror fans. But Hawke’s character fails to win our empathy and the film engages in a lot of tired clichés. Perhaps the screenplays worst crime is the fact that Hawke discovers a box full of snuff films, but only watches one when the screenwriter feels the audience needs a jolt. That he doesn’t watch them all at once or report his findings takes more suspension of disbelief than some viewers will be willing to give.
With Juliet Rylance as the always-bitchy wife character, and former Republican senator Fred Dalton Thompson, who kept popping up in movies when his political career wasn’t enough for him. Directed by Scott Derrickson.