Matthew Lickona 2:57 p.m., May 17
In order to get a story, a true crime writer (Ethan Hawke) who puts his family before his work (and who hasn’t had a best seller in 10 years) decides to move the wife and two kids into a suburban death house. A Super 8mm film projector and five cans of grisly home movies, mysteriously deposited in his attic by a child-eating serial killer who operates under the handle of Mr. Boogie, cause visions of a New York Times best seller to dance in Hawke’s head. (A found-footage shocker shot in ‘Scope?! Alas. After a deviceful opening sequence featuring a hanging, the pillar-boxing is abandoned and the rest of the non-anamorphic footage is blown up to fit the widescreen frame.) As with any found-footage shocker of recent vintage, the filmmakers frequently play fast and loose with cinematic logic. Individual freeze-frames from the home movies reveal Mr. Boogie lurking in the background, but with only one camera and one serial killer to cover the action, who is taking the pictures? If this is truly the crime of the century that Hawke thinks it is, why does he take days to watch what can’t amount to more than 15 minutes of footage? But forget about all this logic and aspect ratio mumbo-jumbo: here is what you really want to hear: Sinister delivers quality jolts. Scott Derrickson (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) wrote and directed. With Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, Vincent D'Onofrio, and the most natural kid actor currently at work in movies, Michael Hall D'Addario (People Like Us). 2012.
— Scott Marks
- Out & About: "Sinister" • October 2, 2012