Sorry it's been so long since I've written a review, but life seems to have caught up with me. I hope this is a small repayment on a larger investment. Anyway....
Being an old school horror guy, who's been in love with monsters since he was a kid, it's hard for me to feel a scare anymore. It's nice to have that rush every once in a while. 'Sinister' started out with the real potential to be something great. The opening sequence is disturbing, unsettling and generally kind of creepy. What happens for the next 45 minutes after that is also pretty damn frightening. However, at the end of the day.... the payoff just wasn't there. It was yet another horror movie with a great premise and great promise, that seemed to have the writer's lose their train of thought at the end. We've all been in this same situation. I can't tell you how many times I've come up with a fantastic idea for a story and the more I try and flush it out, the less and less fantastic the story becomes. It's as if the producers of this movie only heard the basic concept and didn't take time to hear the whole treatment. This would be one of those times where I wish that a director would take over a movie from another director and re-do his ending, rather than remake another movie that may or many not need a remake. Not that I'm against remakes per say, I'm just tired of watching something and loving it up until the end, only to feel cheated.
What makes this movie interesting, is the back story of the main character and the motives of the killer. Ethan Hawke does a great job, as usual, of playing a writer who'e haunted by the books he writes. He infiltrates the headspace of serial killers and writes books about them and the murders they committed. Sometimes he gets so involved that it causes him to have to move several times and is costing him his marriage and family. Soon, his mind seems to be starting to go too. As he begins work on his new book, we find him moving in to yet another home. What his family doesn't realize is, that this is the house where the last murders took place in his book. Nobody in town wants him living there or in their town and his kids aren't too keen on it either. Soon, he discovers a box of old films and a projector in the attic. Unable to help himself, he begins watching the films. What ends up being on the films are the murders of each family he's writing about. It's almost as if he's being fed information by the killer himself. As he continues watching the films, he starts noticing a figure that seems to show up at each murder site. This plummets him into the mouth of madness and just as everything seems to be falling apart.... we find out the true story behind Mr. Boogie and the murders contained on each film. I just can't say you'll care.
I keep thinking about the ending of this movie and trying to justify what I saw. Sadly, the killer who made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, turns into something far less frightening. The special effects go from disturbing to just plain silly. Ethan Hawke continues to try and sell what you're seeing, but it's just so far fetched and "green screened" that you never regain the fear you had in the beginning. I feel that this is a solid 3 out of 5 star outing. I still want to give it 4, but the way it all wrapped up was just too far fetched and far from the original concept. Why oh why did they have to poop on the finale? If the Bluray has an alternate ending on it, I'd love to see it. Maybe it sheds a better light on things?
My final thoughts are this: The individual 16 mm home movies of each killing, are pretty intense. I've seen far worse, but for a standard Hollywood horror flick, they are better than average and far more disturbing. The killer is fairly scary looking. Anymore, it's hard to come up with something we've never seen before and Mr. Boogie seems to fit that bill. Finally, I've said this many times before about many different movies.... turn this one off about 20 - 30 minutes from the ending. Your guideline on when to stop, is somewhere around when the backwards walking kids start showing up. I have no freaking clue who thought it was a good idea to have the kids filmed backwards and they played forwards, as a device to make them more creepy. Perhaps they took a cue from all of the J-horror flicks out there, but that's not exactly what they're doing and that's not what the J-horror directors were intending. It just comes off as stupid. The whole 5 - 7 minute montage of the kids moving all around Ethan's character, is supposed to be scary. The end result is anything but that. It comes off more as a joke. An unintentional joke.
Anyway, that's it! If you have some spare time, you could do far worse than 'Sinister'. It really reminds me of another set of let down of a good start movies, 'Insidious' and 'Dead Silence'. (both of which were done by James Wan.) Just check your brain at the door, turn off the lights and drink heavily. Perhaps by they time the kids start moving strangely, so will your brain and your vision and you can see past the crap that follows. ENJOY responsibly.