Sinister: A Scary Good Example of Plot

Are you like me? Do you show off how much you love scary movies like you’re so badass brave? But then when it comes time to watch them, you’re the one who’s like “Guys, let’s keep the light on. Somebody might need to get up and use the restroom, and I don’t want anyone to stub a toe!”

I admit I do this a lot. And then I spend the next week sleeping with the TV on and maybe a lamp (or two) to convince my overactive imagination the characters in the movie won’t suddenly show up in my bedroom.Β  he he.

Last night I begged my boyfriend to watch the movie Sinister. The movie stars Ethan Hawke (Before Sunrise, Training Day) as a true crime writer who moves his family into the crime scene home of his current work. Finding a box of 8mm home movies, he uncovers a series a murders that may be too close to home – literally.

This. Movie. Freaked. Me. Out.

But – the plot was amazing!

Early in the film we learn what our protagonist’s normal world is like. The Oswalts are moving into their new home when the Sheriff pulls up to the house. Ellison (Hawke) walks out to meet him, as his wife berates him to act nice. With just a few lines of dialogue we learn that Ellison’s previous books have caused quite a stir, and most people are reluctant to help the family. A fact that is even more difficult for their children, who have been getting picked on at school for their father’s subject matter.

Ellison’s wife: “Just promise me we didn’t move in two houses down from a crime scene.”

Ellison: “I promise.”

They moved in to the EXACT house where the crime took place.

Right from the get go, the viewer knows the family is stressed out and uncomfortable with the move. We know Ellison lied to his wife and kids about the history of their new home. And we know the police are not going to help them. They are on their own.

The next day at breakfast the Oswalts establish their house rules. Dad’s office must be kept locked at all times. They don’t want their young children wandering in where he could have photos of the deceased laying out. We now know that the kids cannot get in that room.

What Ellison finds next is the box of home movies that’s been left in the attic. As he watches each film, he witnesses the murder of the families in each video. And in every instance, one of the children is missing. As he rewatches them, he sees a gory looking man in the reflections or background of the film.

We meet our villain.

As the movie unfolds, Ellison gets closer and closer to piecing together what links these gruesome murders. But our villain and the missing children get closer to Ellison as well.

Every night, Ellison is waking up to the sound of the projector running in his office. The office that remains locked. He hears noises in the attic and footsteps around the house, but he never can find what’s there.

Are you creeped out yet?

At this point I was cowering behind my boyfriend’s body and periodically checking behind me.

Our rising action occurs as the paranormal activity heightens. Ellison’s son is having night terrors. They find him screaming from inside a cardboard box, and later outside in the bushes. Ellison’s daughter is painting pictures of one of the missing children. And Ellison thinks he saw the bad guy in his yard.

Every good main character needs a wise friend. A teacher, a best friend, a voice of reason. Frodo had Sam. Sherlock had Watson. Sandy had Frenchie. πŸ™‚

For Ellison, he connects with Jonas, a professor of the occult, who helps him discover the meaning of the symbol that appears in every video. What he learns will only add to his fears.

I don’t want to create spoilers for anyone who wants to watch the movie, but I’m telling you this was a great film for illustrating conflict and high risk in the plot!

And I loved the premise. What could be a better set up than a true crime author moving into a crime scene and thinking it would not affect his family. Of course it will! You’re living, eating, breathing, sleeping in your body of work. There is no escape. And as Ellison dives further into his research, the world around him becomes too real and much too close for comfort.

There is a great little twist in the end as well, but you’ll have to see it to believe it!

Are you putting this movie on your must see list? Do you need to borrow my night light? You can have it sometime next week when I’m sleeping again.


30 responses

  1. I love freaky films, especially when they involve an author. Adding this to my list, doll! And I may take you up on that nightlight offer. πŸ˜‰

    1. This is probably right up your alley, August! Enjoy! Bring a friend, there’s safety in numbers!

  2. My hubs is a great big scaredy cat baby, and will not watch horror/scary movies. So, that would leave me alone, all by myself, with nobody to cringe next to, watching them. Um, no.

    Although, this looks intriguing. And you know I love Ethan Hawke. (Reality Bites, hello?). Maybe once it is on cable, and I am home alone one DAY (as in bright and sunny, thanks), I will queue it up. Maybe. Thanks for the rec.

    1. Yah, it was storming outside when we watched it and my honey kept falling asleep because he’d played at a festival the night before and was so tired. I kept shaking him, “WAKE UP! I can’t watch this by myself!” My logic: If I’m not the only one who saw it, I’m not the only one who could die from seeing it.

      I’m probably a bad person. Still want to watch movies with me?

  3. Yeah, see, I’d be looking for excuses to hide in the bathroom. I like suspense, but not scary. Hubby laughs at me…because when I “go to the bathroom” he pauses the dang movie to make me HAVE to watch. Oddly enough, I don’t have nightmares from them.

    1. That’s because a considerate SOMEONE leaves the lights on for you! πŸ˜‰

  4. I like suspense, but most horror movies are too much for me. This past weekend my hub said he wanted to watch The Cabin in the Woods because his friends told him it’s not like a regular horror movie. Well, it’s not, but yet it is and I had to distract myself with Pinterest on my phone while watching. πŸ™‚

    1. We watched that one too and it’s one of the few scary movies my guy really liked. He loved that plot twist. I do think it was a cool idea for a movie.

  5. Ah!! Too funny. Yes, this is on my to see list. I just asked my 15 year old about it. He and his buddies have been doing the whole turn out the lights and watch scary movies thing. They saw it. He said he’d watch it with me, and that it seriously gave him the jumps. I can’t watch horror films in my house because typically I need to wait until no one is home. My wife knows that I turn out lights in order to get max effect. She scurries off to the bedroom to read on those rare occasions.
    By the way, what’s with the Sandy and Frenchie comment? Aren’t you too young to know about them? πŸ™‚ Of course now I’m going to have “Greased Lightning” in my head tomorrow. *grins*


    1. Lol. Grease made a comeback when I was in middle school and I begged my parents to get me the movie and soundtrack for my birthday. I know EVERY song.

  6. Yikes! Freak-aaay! 😎 Reckon it’s old enough to be on Netflix?

    1. It might be. I don’t have Netflix but if it’s not there now it should be soon. Get the popcorn ready!

      1. Ooooh! Popcorn! I did check, though. Not on Netflix, yet. (Pooh!)

      2. Whoops! I hit “post” but I don’t see my reply. Anyway, I did check Netflix for that movie. Not there, yet. But popcorn sounds good for lunch…and dinner.

  7. We watched this movie a couple of weeks ago, and thought it was pretty good. The images of the family hanging from the tree were creepy as hell. If it was up to me all the lights would have been out, but Tara’s like you.

    1. Yay Tara!!! We’re the most courteous movie watchers EVAH! And. You’re. Welcome.

  8. That looks interesting! It isn’t on Netflix Streaming or on HBOGO. Surely it will be soon. I’d really like to see it.

    1. This movie is your kinda freaky Catie. With the posts you’ve done on serial killers. This one is CRAZY!!!

  9. I watched Sinister not long ago… I was REALLY looking forward to it. And while the movie was intense and had me on the edge of my seat, I won’t lie, the ending kind of disappointed me. I don’t want to give away any spoilers either, so I won’t say anymore. πŸ™‚

    1. It’s maybe a little quicker than I would have liked. But I still thought it made sense. Just another reason why the BOOK could be so much better! πŸ˜‰

  10. This one really scared me. I thought Ethan spent way too much time wandering around his house in the dark. Silly man.

    1. OMG – My thoughts exactly. There is no way. NO WAY! that I would climb up a rickety attic fold out stair with nothing but a cell phone flashlight. Hell to the NO!

  11. […] Sinister: A Scary Good Example of Plot ( […]

  12. It’s funny- I always say I don’t like scary books or scary movies . . . but they ARE the ones that get my adrenaline going and make me turn the pages quickly. Maybe I DO like them!

    1. I sooo get that, Nina. Think you’ll audition your acting chops for the horror circuit anytime soon?

  13. Great post, Jess. I’m one of the resident bada$ses and I rarely meet a horror flick that messes with me. Enter Sinister. I saw it in the theater in a showing where I was the only one in the room. About halfway in, I was looking over my shoulder. Wicked freaky villain and home movies. And the husband was messed up for bringing his family there.

    I agree with Tiffany that the ending was a letdown. I wanted more breadcrumbs building up to it.

    1. That is a perfect synopsis, Barbara! And I can’t believe you had to watch it alone. Aaaaah!

  14. I really wanted to see this movie because it sounds so interesting, but I do NOT do well with scary movies. Like, at all. I think I’ll put this one on my “Will watch when I’m feeling brave or someone tricks me into it” list.

    1. May I also suggest watching in daylight or with lots of lamps on?

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