I’ve never been the type to shield my eyes during a horror flick, but that may have put me at a disadvantage while watching Sinister. While Scott Derrickson’s film is little more than a mildly effective, utterly predictable mash-up of The Ring and The Shining, Christopher Young’s score creates a consistently unsettling atmosphere that almost manages to disguise the shortcomings of the visuals that it’s meant to support. Young, still best known for the demonically seductive music-box orchestrations of Hellraiser, concocts something altogether different here, a seamless blend of score and sound design that resembles a dubstep remix of the howls of the damned. The electronically-deranged mélange of disembodied voices, static, shrieks and thumps is disturbing and disorienting, suggesting mysteries that the story fails to deliver on. That story involves Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who moves into the crime scene he’s investigating, only to discover a box of super-8 home movies documenting a series of disturbing murders. The not-unpromising premise is let down by a demonic presence who looks like the singer from a black metal band lurking in the suburbs and a bunch of ghostly kids running around in what looks like carnival face-paint. There is a decent gag involving deleted scenes which would have been better served had it been accompanied by something resembling an actual surprise. But keeping your eyes closed may, for once, prove the more frightening experience.
I've never been the type to shield my eyes during a horror flick, but that may have put me at a disadvantage while watching Sinister.
City Paper Grade: B-
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