The appropriately named Sinister is the first in a small slew of horror films (Paranormal Activity 4, Silent Hill: Revelation 3D) that will be hitting multiplexes in the run-up to Halloween. Admittedly, it’s not a high-concept take on the genre. An edgy true crime author (Ethan Hawke) moves to a new town to look into the unsolved murder of a local family and rents out the house in which they were slaughtered by a creepy man in a mask. You know, for research. Yep — really bad idea.
What it does do well in the hands of director Scott Derrickson (writer-director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose) is serve up a list of trusty techniques pretty much guaranteed to keep a sane human’s heart rate alarmingly high.
As if from a house of horrors highlights reel, we get people in attics, power cuts, “gifted” pale children with staring eyes, flickering cine films of happy families mixed with their gruesome demise, and an electro soundtrack menacing enough to bring on a cardiac arrest on its own.
It’s also a reminder that the cinema is a better place to watch a film like this than your living room. Sure, the big screen, loud sound system and the proximity to potentially murderous strangers add to the turmoil.
But there’s also the relief that when it’s over, you emerge onto the street and don’t have to run up the stairs with the lights on, half-expecting to see a dead-eyed killer by the loo.
Sinister is out on 5 October