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Blu-ray Review: Sinister

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Our friends out at Lionsgate sent out a copy of “Sinister” for us to cover, and this one, which hits February 19, is going to truly be one to watch. But then again, maybe not, unless you’ve got a particularly strong constitution.

“Sinister” joins us up with Ellison Oswald, a true-crime novelist who had a big hit ten years ago. But these days, Oswald’s looking more and more like a one-hit wonder. Out for a second hit to give him the credibility he so desperately needs, he moves his family into a house where a family was brutally murdered, and a child was found dead.

That’s the kind of thing that can give a novelist a little extra punch, so he hopes for inspiration from the midst of the horror he voluntarily stuck his family in. But when Oswald finds a cache of home movies, he sets forth a series of events potentially even worse than the horrors unleashed on the previous occupants. Will lightning strike twice? Or will Oswald know how to save his family from the menace he’s unintentionally unleashed?

“Sinister” does a fine job of setting up tension. Frankly, it’s fairing ringing with tension from the first few minutes, something that very few horror films can actually do with any reliability. The first 15 minutes establish a pattern that something is deeply, gravely wrong here, and the rest of the movie is left to capitalize on an early going that’s nothing short of chilling.

Ethan Hawke does a fantastic job here as Ellison Oswald, and perhaps best of all, he’s backed up by a variety of sound performances that do a mostly equal job to Hawke’s own. Everyone here is believable, which may be the biggest bonus of all. Perhaps best of all, the actual footage of the monster of the week is comparatively minimal. There are only a few glances, and they’re pretty chilling when they do show up.

Make no mistake about it, this is not for the uninitiated. This is extremely strong stuff; high-tension, weapons-grade nightmare fuel at its most diabolical and if you’re not ready for it, it’s going to keep you up nights. There are straight jump scares, there is long-range tension building, the whole affair is packed with scares. Even better, the whole thing will cement itself nicely in to a much larger whole that’s actually quite impressive.

As for extra features, we’ll have plenty here, including a set of audio options and your choice of English or Spanish subtitles. Additionally, there will be audio commentary reels for the director and for the writers, featurettes about true crime authors as well as about living in a “house of death”, a roster of deleted scenes, and trailers for “Sinister”, “Texas Chainsaw 3D”, “The Possession”, “The Haunting in Connecticut”, “The Last Exorcism”, and a bit of a promo reel for FearNet as well as the standard one for Epix. A digital copy can be had with the Blu-ray, as can an Ultraviolet version.

“Sinister” is easily one of the better horror movies I’ve seen of late. Packed with tension, outright scares, and a concept sufficiently creepy to have most anyone up until the wee hours, it’s a potent piece of work that delivers in most every sense.

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