The Flick Chicks

Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Sinister | Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D'Onofrio | Review

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  4_Chicks_Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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Sinister | Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, James Ransone, Vincent D'Onofrio | Review

The title says it all in this genuinely creepy, grim, and disturbing film in which found footage documents horrendous family murders.

The first thing we find out about true crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is that he is not welcome in the small town where he’s just purchased a house (a former crime scene).  Wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and kids Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and Ashley (Clare Foley) have all suffered discrimination from neighbors in the past because of Ellison’s work, and they are not looking forward to being unpopular yet again.

Town sheriff (Fred Dalton Thompson) and deputy (James Ransone) have differing opinions about the famous newcomer.  The former would like him to pack up and leave; the latter would like an autograph.

Oswalt would simply like to start on his next book, chronicling the murder of the family that used to live in the house he now owns, plus the disappearance of their daughter.  A strange box in the attic leads to gruesome super 8 home movie discoveries of a series of family murders that took place over a number of decades, starting in 1966.  Oswalt is repulsed and fascinated, learning how to edit and manipulate the film for clues.

A series of strange occurrences and sightings take place.  Trevor begins violent night terrors.  Ashley, a budding artist, paints murder scene pictures on the wall.  The super 8 projector comes to life on its own, night after night.  Entities appear on lawns and in hallways.

With names like Lawn Work, Sleepy Time, and Pool Party, the harrowing films chronicle different, diabolical methods of death.  A sinister face appears in each monstrous home movie.

Ellison enlists the town deputy to help with his research, which leads him to Professor Jonas (Vincent D’Onofrio) who provides the paranormal legend that accompanies the murders.

Ethan Hawke shouts and drinks his way through the strange events.  Juliet Rylance is the long-suffering wife who must warn of danger before it’s too late.  James Ransone lends an interesting, haunting presence to his scenes.  Michael Hall D’Addario nails his night terrors with unsettling precision.

Writer/Director Scott Derrickson (Land of Plenty), editor Frédéric Thoraval, and original music composer Christopher Young work in sync to supply the chills and discomfort that aficionados of the horror genre crave.  If there is a drawback, it is that the supernatural butts its unnecessary head into the mix.  The deeds of mere mortals are horrifying enough.


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