Given the current popularity of found-footage horror movies, it makes sense that now we get a horror movie about the person who finds the footage. In Sinister, that’s true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who’s just moved his wife and two kids into a house where a family was brutally murdered (as you do). He discovers a cache of Super 8 home movies in the attic, disturbing reels that show not only the murder of the house’s previous residents, but also a number of other families being murdered in various places going back decades. Cue the strange noises, unsettling background apparitions and creepy kid behavior.
Director Scott Derrickson made a surprisingly thoughtful horror movie with 2005’s The Exorcism of Emily Rose, and Sinister does take extra care with its characters, but its slow build is more dull than involving. The dark, nasty ending goes a little way toward redeeming some of the previous lulls, although the resolution reveals them for the dead ends they really were.