Sinister: on DVD and Blu-ray

Monday, 11 February 2013 00:00
Posted in Blu-Ray
Written by 

Sinister - out on DVD and Blu-rayTrue-crime writer Ellison (Ethan Hawke – “Training Day”, “Gattaca”) and his family move into a new home with a terrible history. A family were hanged from a tree in the garden, though the killer and motive were never discovered. Ellison plans to use the case as a springboard for resuscitating his career, and he is shocked and yet cannot believe his luck when he stumbles upon some 8mm film reels in the loft that propel his investigation forwards.

The short clips depict first-hand a series of gruesome murders that date from the 1960s to more recent times, each featuring a different family seemingly preyed on for no reason. Some way into his research, Ellison catches a glimpse of a haunting masked figure in one of the movies, and realises that the person is present in each reel, along with strange markings at each crime scene. As his obsession grows, he becomes convinced that a malignant presence is responsible.

Coming from producer Jason Blum, of “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” fame, and director Scott Derrickson (“The Last Exorcism of Emily Rose”), this movie has a solid horror pedigree, and it does not disappoint. Hawke is excellent as the driven and yet conflicted writer who desperately wants to revive his fame, but not at the cost of his family’s love. Juliet Rylance plays his wife Tracy with sensitivity and strength, keen to see him succeed but worried that he is getting to deeply involved in his work.

The film never lets up, moving from one tense scene to another with barely a breather, and like Ellison we feel dirty and guilty for watching the snuff footage and yet are unable to pull away, inescapably drawn into the mystery.

The plot heavily focuses on Ellison, so long spells feature him watching the material, tracking down and digging into the lives of the murdered families, and creeping about his house at night when the rest of the family are tucked safely into bed. This means that when strange things start happening in the house, we cannot be sure if they are figments of his fevered imagination or for real. Despite his family’s regular proximity, you feel like Ellison is alone in the house, and the local law enforcement’s distaste for his work and reputation accentuate the sense that he is an outsider.

There are some excellent jolting shocks, but the film’s main strength is ability to build and sustain a brooding and portentous atmosphere. The ending is particularly chilling and leaves enough unanswered questions to keep the door open for a sequel or two.

I reviewed the DVD version, which by any standards was absurdly dark. It seems to have a been a production choice to have very low lighting inside the house during both the day and night, but the DVD exaggerates the effect so that you cannot see a lot for much of the film’s duration. Thankfully, your imagination helps boost the fear-factor, and you can see the important stuff when it makes you jump out of your seat!

The ‘15’ rating is slightly alarming given the strong subject matter and the scares on offer; although most of the murder scenes are not bloody, they are very disturbing, so be warned! Fans of both horror movies like “The Shining” and dark thrillers such as “Red Dragon” will love this.

Special features on both formats include:

  • Director’s commentary with Scott Derrickson
  • Writers’ commentary with Scott Derrickson and C Robert Cargill
  • ‘True Crime Authors’ featurette
  • ‘Living in a House of Death’ featurette
  • ‘Fear Experiment’ featurette
  • Trailer

It is a decent bundle of content, albeit with the odd exclusion of a making-of. The ‘Death House’ piece is about a family who bought and restored an infamous house in America where eight people were murdered, and now make money by inviting the public in for an hour or a night, if they dare. ‘Fear Experiment’ features some pseudo science as some guinea pigs volunteer to be wired up whilst they watch the movie to see which of them is the biggest scaredy-cat!

“Sinister” (2012) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment. The main feature has a running time of 110 minutes approx, carries a ‘15’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from


Last modified on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 10:42

denizli escort denizli escort