Once married to Uma Thurman back when she was Uma Thurman, Ethan was on the path to becoming either Tom Cruise or Tom Sizemore – and all I can say is that Heidi Fleiss had better watch her back, which is pretty much the angle most worth watching nowadays.
We begin with old Super 8 footage of a family hanging from a tree which is either a terrible tragedy or a natural outcome of the average Disney vacation, I’m not sure which.
Cut to Ethan Hawke in a cable knit sweater – and you had better like cable knit sweaters because Ethan’s wearing this one for the entire movie.
“I’m bringing sexy back,” said Ethan, “the way sexy fishermen have for generations. I may never win an Oscar but I’m a shoo-in for the L.L. Bean ‘Guy Who Looks Like My Dad’ award!”
Fred Thompson guest stars as “actor who’s really unhappy to be playing small-town Sheriff.”
“People forget I once ran for President of the United States,” said Thompson, to people who had forgotten he once ran for President of the United States.
Ethan’s a writer of true crime stories, and Thompson has read all of his books. Maybe that’s what he was doing instead of brushing up on current events for his brief Presidential run.
Ethan’s new house was the scene of the family tree hangings, and as he explores the attic he finds a box of old Super 8 movies, each depicting heinous crimes from years gone by and the presence of a weird personification of evil the kids call “Mr. Boogie.”
“Back in the ’70′s, I was known as ‘Mr. Oogie Woogie Boogie,’” said Mr. Boogie. “But pop cultural conventions change, and to get jiggy with today’s homeboys, I am simply Mr. Boogie, and my target is anyone in a cable-knit sweater.”
Ethan doesn’t know how this box of films got to his attic. We know this because he writes on a post-it note: “Box of films – how did it get there?” He doesn’t know who made the films. We know this because he writes on a post-it note: “Who made the films.” Maybe it’s time for me to write on a post-it note: “When is this over?”
One after the next, Ethan watches movies of people getting killed. Hey, isn’t that our job?
Watching movies is easy in Ethan’s house because there seems to be almost no light in the house at all. It’s as if the entire production is powered by the sun. Hey, it’s not scary just because you can’t see it. It’s scary because it’s worth not seeing.
This movie is dark! At one point Ethan uses his mobile phone to light the scene, and that was one of the best lit scenes in the movie. How am I supposed to enjoy my ridiculously proportioned popcorn and soda if I can’t see where I’m spilling them? Can I pay extra for a version of this movie with lights?
All is not lost. At least you learn a lot about how to use Quicktime and how to edit Super 8 film. In this job market these might be useful skills.
Fortunately a local deputy tells Ethan that there’s an occult crime expert at the local university. What, an “occult crime expert”? When did that category get created? And how does such knowledge get to the local deputy? That’s like saying “There’s a clown-on-clown crime expert at the local university.” What are the odds!
And indeed, what are the odds that that very same occult crime expert would be my old friend, intense actor extraordinaire, Vincent D’Onofrio, pretty much playing his whole cameo from his home office on iChat.
Sinister is like a slow moving nightmare. Very slow. And with a one-note performance from Fred Thompson, a D’Onofrio cameo literally phoned in, and a box of snuff movies – any one of which I’d rather watch than this one – this movie will be forgotten before the calendar can say “November.”