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October 12, 2012 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s rare when a horror movie is screened for critics at all. It’s rarer still when one that is screened receives mostly positive reviews. But such is the case with writer-director Scott Derrickson’s Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke. The story, notes Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle, takes place at 3:00 a.m. “And Derrickson’s genuine fascination for darkness is what makes “Sinister” frightening. It is the farthest thing from a cheap horror movie. It doesn’t get its effects by threatening to show you something disgusting. It gets its effects by making you feel like it’s 3 in the morning, too.” Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times notes that while all through Sinister he kept thinking, ‘”Switch on the lights, fool!” he nevertheless came away with the conclusion that “Sinister is an undeniably scary movie, with performances adding enough human interest to give depth to the basic building blocks of horror.” Mark Olsen in the Los Angeles Times agrees with other critics who have remarked that Sinister seems like a throwback to oldtime chillers. “As the best horror stories so often do, Sinister makes clear that we are our own boogeymen, the worst monsters of all,” he writes. Not all of the reviews are so approving. Rafer Guzmán in Newsday disses it as “mainly just a series of snuff-reels with sick-joke titles.” Sarah Stewart in the New York Post says of the killing footage: “Hard-core horror fans may dig it, I guess. I’d call it forced voyeurism of the worst sort.” And Scott Bowles in USA Today concludes that Sinister “relies more on ‘gotcha’ moments than storytelling.”