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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.  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. 🙂

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.

 

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