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With the Saw franchise desperately in need of a creative miter box to guide it through a new sequel, this will mark our second Jigsaw-less Halloween. This season, screams will be heard emanating from multiplexes showing Sinister. 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 projector and 5 cans of grizzly home movies mysteriously deposited in his attic by a child eating serial killer who operates under the handle, Mr. Boogie, cause visions of a New York Times best seller to dance in Hawke’s head. A found-footage shocker shot in ‘Scope?! After a deviceful opening hanging sequence 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? A late attempt at dispensing comic relief (and bulky exposition) should have either played out earlier of have been sacrificed for the sake of suspense. Forget about all this logic and aspect ratio mumbo-jumbo: here is what you really want to hear. There is more seat-shifting in the audience then there is shape-shifting on screen and if all you are interested in are quality jolts, I suggest you pack a change of underwear and head over to see Sinister. Scott Derreckson (The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) wrote and directed. With: Juliet Rylance, Fred Dalton Thompson, incent D'Onofrio, and the most natural kid actor currently at work, Michael Hall D'Addario (People Like Us.)

Reader Rating: Two Stars

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