A true-crime writer moves his family into a new house, without telling them the previous inhabitants had been hanged from a tree in the back garden - the very crime he is researching for his book. But when he discovers a mysterious box in the attic containing a projector and some old 8mm film of actual murders, events take an even more sinister, supernatural turn.
From the opening sequence - a grainy home movie of four people with their heads covered, arms tied, and legs kicking while being suspended from a large branch - you can tell this is going to be a disturbing and creepy ride. And it certainly is. As the story unfolds, it is both intriguing and unsettling, and it really drew me in. The background music is unusual and wonderfully atmospheric. Combined with the lighting, camerawork, attention to detail, and an excellent lead performance by Ethan Hawke, it creates a genuine sense of foreboding and dread.
Initially, Sinister reminded me of earlier serial killer films like Seven and Manhunter, but it's so much more than those. The story does have a twist in the final act, which wasn't a great shock to me when it was revealed, but that didn't matter. On the other hand, I did like the film's ending, which I was not expecting.
I have to say, this is probably one of the best - certainly most frightening - contemporary horror films I've seen in a long time. Highly recommended. 5/5