Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sinister (R/110 Min.)


I started this year’s Halloween viewing way late. Like…yesterday late. Now I’m trying to catch up in the few days I have left. Then it’s back to football movies. Wahoo (insert sarcasm font here). I missed out on the free pre-screening of Sinister by 6 people. I got to the theater later than usual because I had to go pick up my hockey season tickets. What? Priorities, man! Anyway, by the time I got to the theater the line was already super long. Dang it. After they’d let a good number of the people in, the rest of us were turned away because the theater was full. We were told that if we left our names and e-dresses we’d get passes to a future movie. Cool!

I was pretty sure Sinister was going to scare me but I wasn’t sure how much. Having just discovered that this was produced by the same person who produced the Paranormal Activity films I’m not surprised by the nature of the scares. This movie relied on jump-out-at-you events and your own imagination to set your pulse to racing. I had absolutely no desire to go see Sinister by myself. I knew there would, more than likely, be other people in the theater but I wanted someone with me who would tell me what I missed when I hid behind my hands. And, I know it sounds odd, but I wanted someone who would laugh at me for doing so. Trust me. This completely alleviates any tension caused by the Boogie Man. My cousins Justin and Jessica (yes, their names have been changed) went with me. Thank goodness. Let me tell you, Justin had quite a few laughs at my expense.

Sinister is the story of Ellison, a true crime author who moves himself and his family in to the house near which a family was murdered. While taking stuff up to be stored in his attic he comes across a box containing disturbing (to put it mildly) home movies. Soon after he begins watching the movies, creepy things start to happen to him and his family.

This is the type of horror movie I absolutely hate and yet I still go see. I mentioned the jump-out-at-you scares earlier. These make me so mad. And make me miss half the movie because I’m hiding behind my hands just waiting for it to happen. I counted at least 8 such scares. Some of the ones that happened may have been combined with one I counted because they were back to back and in the same scene. One scene involved super loud noises (two, to be exact) that I counted as one. Another involved people popping up unexpectedly. They were all counted as one also. Just be prepared.

Fortunately, a lot of the scares give you a bit of a warning. Actually, a good portion of the movie was predictable. I did make two predictions that turned out to be false but I did okay throughout the rest. Poor Justin had to listen to me talk through quite a bit of the movie. This is NOT typical for me. It’s a pet peeve of mine for people to do so but I think I did it out of discomfort. That, and the fact that, had it bothered him, Justin would have told me to shut up. We’re cool like that. What was frustrating about some of the predictability is that, regarding several pertinent facts, Ellison took forever to catch on. He’s supposed to be this smart guy detective-type person and the audience caught on way before he did with the same facts he had. I was very disappointed. Even more frustrating, Deputy So and So (that IS what he’s called in the film) took nearly as long. What really sent me over the edge was the fact that they found a connection between two of the families who were murdered but didn’t stop right then and check for a connection with the rest. And they knew these were serial crimes!!! ARGH!!!

I read somewhere that this was supposed to be psychologically disturbing. I’m beginning to question my personal level of disturbibility (What? I can’t make up words?) because, other than the quick scares, it didn’t bother me as much as I’m guessing it should have. Then again, it didn’t seem to bother Justin and Jessica either. There was one scene in which the husband and wife were tied up on their bed and the family dog was sitting between them. No, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to any of them but, I’m almost ashamed to admit, my first thought was, “Oh no! Not the dog!” You have to understand, though, THIS is what is sitting on my lap as I type…er…try to type.
I think that when your only babies are fur-babies, it tends to affect how you direct your emotions on occasion. At least that’s the logic I’m hiding behind for now.

At this point I usually prattle on and on, ad nauseum, about the actors. None of them were so bad that it distracted from the movie but, then again, none of them will be nominated for Oscars for this movie. You can’t really fault me for saying that. How many actors have won anything for their role in a horror film? And don’t say “Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster” because Silence of the Lambs is considered to be a Psychological Thriller so I win. Ha! The only actor who came anywhere close to bugging me was James Ransone who played Deputy So and So but I strongly believe he was told to act that way.

I know I talked earlier about a few of the things that bothered me about Sinister but I’m going to add more. So buckle up, Buttercup. I didn’t keep track of the number of these because I didn’t know I’d need to but there were many scenes in which Ellison heard something at night (of course) that woke him up or startled him in some way, shape or form. When he went to investigate, at no point did the man turn on a light. Okay, I will admit to having heard things and went investigating in the dark but my reasoning is that, in my house, some of the light switches are quite a walk from the last area full of light. I’d totally ruin my night vision getting to the next switch thereby leaving plenty of time for the bad guy to get me. You’re welcome, bad guys, for the details. However, if I kept hearing the same thing over and over, night after night, AND I had seen the bad guy outside my house, in my back yard, that place would be lit up like the 4th of July. And the space in between light switches…? That’s what one million candle power flashlights are for! Justin and I were getting a little miffed by Ellison’s inability to flip a switch. You wouldn’t believe the relief when he finally did it…in one scene only. Dork. To make things worse, there were a couple instances in which he investigated without carrying a weapon. What exactly did he think he was going to do if he came upon the bad guy? Talk him down? I don’t think so. In yet another scene he sits on the sofa right in front of the ginormous picture window through the curtains of which you could see the shadows of anything that might pass between the street light and the house. Finally, after a hole is accidentally created in the floor of the basement/ceiling of the main part of the house, Ellison never patched it up. Has this man never, in his entire life, seen a scary movie? You never EVER check out the noise without a weapon. You never EVER sit in front of a window or door. And you never EVER EVER leave extra spaces through which the bad guy can get to you. NEVER!!!

Let’s move on to the mom’s actions throughout parts of the film. I’m going to put SPOILER ALERT here even though I don’t really think it is. Soon after the family moved in to the house, Ellison’s wife informed him that if things started to go south she was going to take herself and her kids and move in with her sister. Do you think this happened? Now what kind of horror movie would this be if she had? Oh! And when all the loud noises were going on in the house not once did she wake up. She did wake up when her son had night terrors but if any of the sounds had anything to do with Ellison, he was on his own. How heavy a sleeper is this woman? She even slept through her husband’s screaming. I want some of whatever she was taking to catch some z’s. Honestly though, I’ve decided that all the wife was in the movie for was to bust Ellison’s chops for his rather poor decision-making abilities.

I’m not going to break this one down so you can decide whether or not to take your children to see it because if you think it is okay to take your children to movies like this, nothing I say is going to dissuade you. I really REALLY hope you would think twice before doing so. If you want to see this at the theater and are taking your kids because you can’t find a sitter, give me a call. I’ll come watch them. Unless you live outside the greater greater OKC area. You’re a bit outside my comfortable commute range.

Despite the many complaints, would I recommend Sinister to anyone? Actually, I would. To other people who go for any type of scares. To people who enjoy the jump-out-at-you scares. To other people who want to see as many scary movies, new and old, as they can in the weeks preceding Halloween. And finally, to those who don’t mind predictability and blatantly stupid moves by some of the characters. Some of the scenes in this film were highly clichéd but some of the reviews I’ve read mentioned unexpected twists. I’ll refrain from mentioning that Justin and I figured out a good portion of what was going to happen before it did. Even the supposed “unexpected” parts. I can’t speak for Jessica because she was sitting on the other side of Justin but I know she’s pretty smart so I wouldn’t put it past her. I’m guessing the afore-mentioned reviewers didn’t catch on as quickly. Wow! That was rude. So sorry.

I wonder…would any of this have happened if Ellison hadn’t watched the movies? Probably. The bad guy seemed determined. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been much of a movie. It would have been Not So Sinister. The story of a true crime author and his family, who moved in to a new home, found a box, ignored it and nothing happened. Not sure I would go see that film.

There is nothing after the credits so feel free to leave when you see them. The final scare is truly the final scare.

P.S. I’d like to give a big shout out to the editors. When the cameras were close up on the little girl when she was painting on her wall (she was allowed), the dress she was painting was completely filled in. When the camera pulled away there was a decent-sized section that was unfinished. Then! At one point the door to Ellison’s office opened in to the room. Later on, it opened out. How does this happen? Why would the way a door swings be changed during production? Why?????

P.P.S. Also, how did one of the characters not notice neon green poison in their coffee? It was flippin’ glowing! Okay. I’m done.

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