'Sinister' impresses with moody horror, strong performances, and a quality Blu-ray; a must for genre fans.
Disc Release Date:
Sinister's Blu-ray release impresses with its 1080p visual clarity, striking colors, and effective use of shadows, despite the inherent challenges of digital filming, achieving a moody, detailed presentation.
'Sinister' enchants with a DTS-HD Master Audio track, blending nuanced sound effects and dissonant scores for an immersive, foreboding atmosphere, amplifying scares with high fidelity and dynamic soundstage.
Scott Derrickson offers directorial insights and technical choices in commentaries, while featurettes explore true crime fascination and challenging real estate of murder houses. Includes deleted scenes and insights into writing process.
In 'Sinister,' true-crime author Ellison Oswalt explores a chilling mystery through unsettling home movies, leading to terrifying discoveries and obsession, melding classic horror elements with a fresh, atmospheric narrative.
Sinister's Blu-ray release through Lionsgate Films and Summit Entertainment is showcased with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 2.40:1, delivering imagery that's surprisingly spectacular for a film shot digitally using HD cameras. This is notable because HD filming often receives criticism for yielding a flat, textureless look. However, the use of the Arri Alexa camera under the guidance of director Scott Derrickson and DP Christopher Norr impressively counters this trend, particularly in the film's predominantly dark scenes. Even though colors are deliberately subdued, they remain accurate, a testament to Derrickson's professed color obsession, which he discusses on the directorial commentary track. Despite occasional slips in shadow detail in the deepest darks, this tends itself to enhancing the film's eerie atmosphere, ensuring that even in its darkest moments, there's a clear intention to maintain mood over detail.
The video quality is consistently sharp across the board, with an excellent 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 encode that leaves virtually no detail unnoticed, save for a few softer scenes inherent to the photography style and the intentionally grainy 8mm sequences. The vividness of details in exteriors, interiors, and even minor background items contributes to the rich visual storytelling, allowing viewers to fully immerse themselves in Ellison's investigative journey. Textural nuances in fabrics and skin textures are meticulously presented, revealing even the slightest imperfections and adding a layer of realism to the cinematic experience.
The framing employed uses shadows to their full effect, crafting long, ominous silhouettes that dominate many scenes, often under the cover of night. These segments balance visibility and mystery well, supported by deep, inky blacks and a contrast level that reinforces the film's intense atmosphere without sacrificing clarity. Colors burst with life where present—greens and reds are particularly notable for their vitality, enhancing both setting and tone. Overall, this Blu-ray presentation of Sinister manages to deliver a richly detailed and atmospherically faithful video experience, marrying technical prowess with artistic intention in a way that will deeply satisfy fans.
Sinister" excels in the audio department, offering a chilling and immersive auditory experience with its DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track, which plays a pivotal role in escalating the film's eerie atmosphere and suspenseful narrative. Noteworthy is the impeccable use of nuanced sound effects that enhance the sense of foreboding, as evidenced in scenes like the subtle LFE usage during a car fire, which adds a layer of depth to the horror without being overtly conspicuous. The soundtrack’s fidelity stands out, presenting dialogue, effects, and score with pristine clarity and excellent prioritization. This ensures that every whispered threat or distant footstep is heard in full, dreadful detail. Surround activity is craftily employed, engaging the side and rear channels effectively to create a convincing and enveloping sound field that adds to the film's immersive quality.
The film's audio execution expertly leverages both the subtle and the overt to maintain a relentless tension, with perfectly timed use of LFE to deliver jump scares that are as audibly shocking as they are visually startling. Christopher Young’s dissonant score, along with clever sound design involving eerie creaks and unsettling nocturnal noises, extends across all seven channels, enveloping the viewer in a consistently oppressive atmosphere of dread. Particularly of note is the incorporation of tribal drumming during key scenes, which stands out as a masterful touch that elevates the horror to new heights.
The dialogue is given due prominence, ensuring that every word is clear and well-positioned within the center channel, maintaining intelligibility against the backdrop of an expansive and detailed soundstage. Movements between channels are seamless, further enhancing the audio presentation’s dynamic range from whispered secrets to the screams of terrifying clarity. The low-end response is reserved yet powerful, underpinning the most intense moments with a palpable sense of dread while giving the score a robust foundation. This audio mix not only supports but significantly amplifies the film's scare factor, making it a testament to how integral sound is in crafting an effective horror cinema experience.
The Blu-ray extras for "Sinister" offer a comprehensive and insightful look into both the film's production and the real-world context it attempts to evoke. The audio commentaries by Scott Derrickson and, in one, additionally by C. Robert Cargill, delve deeply into the directorial and scriptwriting processes, providing a wealth of information on their creative decisions and the challenges they faced. Particularly fascinating is Derrickson's discussion on his preference and use of the Alexsa HD camera, emphasizing his efforts to bridge the gap between digital and film aesthetics. Equally engaging are the featurettes: "True Crime Authors" and "Living in a House of Death," which explore the public's fascination with true crime stories and the eerie allure of homes marked by tragedy. These extras are complemented by deleted scenes with optional directorial commentary, offering a glimpse into the filmmaking process's intricacies.
Extras included in this disc:
- Audio Commentary with Director Scott Derrickson: An in-depth look at the directorial decisions.
- Audio Commentary with Writers Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill: Insights into the film's writing and thematic depth.
- True Crime Authors: A discussion on the true crime genre.
- Living in a House of Death: Insights into marketing properties with dark pasts.
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Scott Derrickson: Additional scenes shedding light on character development and narrative choices.
- Trailers: Promotional material for the film.
Sinister," directed by Scott Derrickson, delves into the eerie and unsettling territory of horror through the premise of found home movies that unleash evil. The film focuses on Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), a troubled true-crime author who discovers a box of Super 8 films in his new house—a house with a very grim history. This discovery plunges him into a dark obsession, attempting to uncover the mystery behind the films that depict the murders of various families. Through meticulous and immersive storytelling, Derrickson juxtaposes the mundane horrors of familial disintegration with supernatural terror, effectively exploiting genre conventions to deliver plentiful scares.
The narrative intricately weaves together elements reminiscent of genre staples like "The Shining" and "The Ring," paying homage while charting its own distinctive path. The utilization of the Super 8 footage as a medium for horror is particularly effective, offering a chilling look at innocence corrupted by unspeakable evil. Ethan Hawke's portrayal of Ellison is convincingly fraught, balancing professional ambition with a growing realization of the horror he's uncovered. The film’s atmosphere is further enriched by Chris Norr’s cinematography, enveloping the viewer in a claustrophobic dread that culminates in a series of disturbing revelations about the fates of the depicted families and the nature of the evil that Ellison faces.
Despite relying on conventional scare tactics at times, "Sinister" distinguishes itself through a compelling exploration of obsession and its consequences. Its plot manages to engage with deeper themes concerning the perils of probing into darkness, both literal and metaphorical. The supporting performances complement Hawke’s descent into madness, adding layers to the narrative’s exploration of horror both supernatural and human. Although it occasionally stumbles with some genre clichés, "Sinister" succeeds in creating a lasting impression with its unique story, skillful direction, and haunting visuals, making it a noteworthy entry in modern horror cinema.
Sinister" distinguishes itself as an engaging entry in the horror genre, effectively leveraging its mood to elevate the viewing experience beyond standard fare. Ethan Hawke's commanding lead performance, coupled with solid support from the cast, sets the tone for a film that thrives on its ability to create a persistent sense of unease. Director Scott Derrickson skillfully navigates through conventional territory, delivering a narrative ripe with suspense and occasional shocks, despite occasionally succumbing to predictable jump scares. This blend of atmospheric tension and competent storytelling crafts a compelling horror narrative, albeit one that sometimes leans too heavily into familiar genre tropes.
The Blu-ray release of "Sinister" enhances the viewing experience, showcasing an exceptionally polished audio and video presentation that immerses the audience in the film's chilling ambiance. The high-definition transfer shines, bringing out the intricate details of the unsettling imagery that punctuates the film. Sound quality is equally impressive, amplifying the eerie atmosphere with a clarity that engages viewers on a visceral level. While the supplementary material might appear sparse, what is provided offers intriguing insights into the film's creation, making it a worthwhile addition for aficionados of horror.
In conclusion, "Sinister" on Blu-ray merges superior technical presentation with a robust horror narrative. Ethan Hawke's stellar performance, under Derrickson's deft direction, drives this moody piece, even as it navigates through some clichéd territory. The audio-visual fidelity is near-reference quality, significantly augmenting the film's impact. Despite its reliance on some genre conventions and limited extras, this release comes highly recommended for fans looking for both quality storytelling and technical excellence in their horror cinema collection.