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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FILM REVIEW - SINISTER



FILM REVIEW - SINISTER
Australian cinema release 30 May 2013

by Sasha Uzunov.

I was surprised to find an envelope with a DVD of the supernatural horror film Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke, from Mel Gibson's former production company, Icon Films, in my Post Office box. No doubt sometime ago I was put on a mailing list of bloggers/journalists/independent film makers.

And not being a fan of horror movies as such, I found the film to be excellent. Ethan Hawke's performance was outstanding as the edgy hustler of a true crime writer trying to making a comeback.

He moves his wife and two children, a son and a daughter, into a new home, once owned by a family whose four members were found murdered hanging by a tree in the backyard. The fifth member, a girl, disappeared.

Hawke (as Ellison Oswalt) does not tell his wife Tracy (ably played by British actress Juliet Rylance) that the new home was a crime scene.

In the attic he discovers a box of home made films, super 8, and an old style film projector. There are 5 films showing the "true life" murders of five different families.

Oswalt tries to discover if this is the work of a serial killer. But to his shock it is something much more ...a pagan deity known as Bughuul or Mr Boogie.

The violence is kept to a minimum in the film, compared to other slash horror movies. There are moments where Hawke as Oswalt does a "Tom Cruise" in his ranting about wanting to write the next best seller. The only thing missing is the sofa jumping a la Oprah Winfrey. But it works. You can see, hear and feel the intensity in Oswalt's ambition.

But this ambition is putting his health and family at risk, as he starts drinking. His wife gives him an ultimatum: the book or the family....

Sinister had its cinema release last October in Europe and the United States. It is sure to hit a nerve with Australian audiences when it premieres on 30 May.

Scott Derrickson does a great job in directing the film. It is a pity that Australian film makers--those of the basket weaving bohemian type who receive Australian government film funding are incapable of making--obsess with the genre of gender angst, suburban angst, ethnic angst, Ango-Celtic Australian angst, heteronormative angst, dysfunctional family angst, every other angst under the sun.

Derrickson's film sees the family in the film as the hero, subverted from within and without, rather than the cause of evil. I liked the concept of Hawke as an American in the film whilst Rylance as his wife as being English. Emotive versus rational. Good combination.

The lighting of Sinister was outstanding as was the sound. Refreshingly, deliberately shaking camera was kept to a very minimum in the film. It has become cliched and in fact annoying as you see it employed in many of the police/crime television shows both in the United States and here in Australia.

Entertaining cameos by Fred Thompson (actor and US politician in real life) as the local sheriff;  and Vincent D'Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket, Law and Order: Criminal Intent) as the Professor and expert on the occult.


Running time: 100 minutes.

Starring 

Ethan Hawke
Juliet Rylance
Fred Thompson
James Ransone
Clare Foley
Michael Hall D'Addario


Directed by Scott Derrickson
Produced by Jason Blum
Written by C. Robert Cargill & Scott Derrickson

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