Sinister

derrickson

Brian De Palma’s classic, and best film, Blow Out, isn’t the most obvious inspiration for co-writer/director Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister. They’re in different genres all together, but both focus on two characters dealing with failure who find themselves reduced to sitting alone in a room trying to figure out a plot that is bigger than they ever would’ve imagined. What is obvious about Sinister is its level of accessibility. The movie is never extreme with its scares, never relies on cringe-inducing carnage, and is straight-forward in its plotting, all of which probably helped make it a box-office success late last year. Speaking with Derrickson via email for the film’s Blu-ray release, that simplicity is entirely what he aimed for — making a horror movie for everyone. Here’s what else Derrickson had to say about creating the look of Sinister with the Alexa camera, Blow Out and working with child actors: 

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discs sushi girl

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Sushi Girl Fish has just been released from jail, and four ex-friends are extremely happy to see him. He served six years for a robbery they all took part in, and now they want to know what happened to the diamonds they stole. The five men sit down for dinner, sushi served off the body of a naked woman, but soon the evening evolves into a torture session as Fish continues to play dumb about the whereabouts of the gems. Director Kern Saxton‘s film is essentially a single-location thriller that succeeds due to some sharp writing, fun performances and grisly practical effects. The titular character (Cortney Palm) is also pretty damn nice. The cast is a who’s who of B-movie actors including Mark Hamill and Tony Todd with cameo appearances by Michael Biehn, Danny Trejo, Jeff Fahey and Sonny Chiba. It may lack the depth of something like The Usual Suspects, but it still finds thrills, laughs and twists in its tight and fun little story. [Extras: Documentary, alternate scenes, outtakes, fake commercials, music video, interviews, video diaries, image gallery, commentaries] Also available on DVD.

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The Best Horror Movies of 2012

Another year has come and mostly gone and hundreds, if not thousands, of young, stupid, misbehaving teenagers have been lost at the hands of ghosts, apparitions, psychos, monsters, animals, and families with strange murder dynamics. Like any responsible site, it’s now our job to look back on a year of cinematic chaos and movie madness and sort all of this into an easy digestible list full of horrors! And family films! Because really, 2012 in horror wasn’t all that violent, but it was reflective and satisfying in a familiar way. Onward!

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Boiling Point

Halloween is nearly upon us and for once I’m not railing against the studio system for a lack of horror in theaters. It seems five years of complaining has finally gotten through to them. Just kidding, they don’t listen to me. But October has been a pretty good year for horror in terms of movies actually being in theaters. In wide release this month we’ll have Sinister, Paranormal Activity 4, and Silent Hill: Revelation. Throw in a couple of limited release titles and this feels like at least quadruple the amount of horror films we normally get. And even if you longed for more horror, you’d only have to turn on the TV. Switch the set on, and it’s more horrific than ever! The Walking Dead! American Horror Story: Asylum! AMC’s programming of monster movies! Well heck, what possibly could I be mad at with this quantity? Why, quality, of course.

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All throughout October, we’ll be hearing from horror filmmakers about their favorite scary movies. We’ve already heard from Joe Dante on The Exorcist, so we turn now to a newcomer on the horror scene. C. Robert Cargill (who some may know as Massawyrm from years of writing at Aint It Cool) is the co-writer of Sinister, which hits theaters tomorrow (10/12). In his film, Ethan Hawke plays a true crime novelist, so is it any wonder that Cargill has chosen to celebrate a horror flick with a writer at its giant, monstrous heart? You can go watch it right now online, or you can join us for a discussion of the last great John Carpenter film and best H.P. Lovecraft movie that isn’t based on anything Lovecraft wrote. Download Episode #152

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Sinister

Editor’s note: This review has previously appeared as part of our SXSW 2012 and Fantastic Fest coverage, but since it’s so well-written and increasingly relevant thanks to Sinister’s opening this week, it’s back! In recent years the found footage style of horror has been done, pardon me, to death. Whole films have been cobbled together with bits of the fake stuff in service to pretend storylines, delivered to their audiences in tidy packages that often place style over substance. In Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister (this year’s SXSW “secret” screening), the found footage conceit is instead used as a source of information and scares, a clever little bit of storytelling that delivers the creeps with ease. Derrickson’s film (co-written with C. Robert Cargill) centers on Ethan Hawke as a true crime writer who has stumbled on his biggest gig yet – penning a book about the mysterious deaths of four family members, hung from a tree in their own backyard in a ritualistic manner. Not only is the perpetrator of the crime still at large, but a fifth member of the family (the youngest girl) who disappeared after the crime is still missing. Hawke’s Ellison routinely moves his family to new towns that have been struck by some sort of tragedy, tragedies that Ellison investigates and writes about to some apparent acclaim. But it’s been years since Ellison had a hit, and it’s imperative that Ellison’s next book is one, just for simple financial reasons.

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Cloud Atlas releases this month

This September wasn’t a bad way to get out of a summer slump. If any of you were disappointed by this past summer’s films, last month should have picked up your spirits. You were either in awe or disappointment over Paul Thomas Anderon‘s The Master, but whatever camp you fall into, at least you more than likely had thoughts about it. Rian Johnson‘s Looper completely lived up to the hype, wonky time travel logic and all. And we got Dredd 3D and End of Watch, two B-movies which exceeded expectations. Not a bad way to start a new season. There are plenty of offerings for every taste this October including one with a bug-eyed, jacked up, and horrifying Matthew Fox who apparently will be taken down by Tyler Perry. Keep reading for a glimpse at seven other movies you should run and skip to the theaters for.

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The Best of Fantastic Fest

It’s not hard to see that Fantastic Fest has come and gone for another year. If many a film fan could find a way to “wear black” on Twitter, they’d do so in mourning of the end of another great year of hardcore geekery. It was a diverse year for the Fantastic Fest programming team, bringing in equal numbers the intense, the gross, the violent, the real and the fun. On the whole, a truly “fantastic” experience for all involved. As we’ve done each year past, it is time for our Fantastic Fest Death Squad to round-up the festival and give you some parting thoughts. Most importantly, we’d like to leave you with a number of films that should occupy space on your horizon, films you should seek out when they finally get distributed in your region. To do this, each member of our coverage team has provided a recap of their experience and their three “Best of the Fest.” On the next page, you’ll find everyone’s nominations for the 2012 Death Squad Awards, highlighting the best films of each of Fantastic Fest’s competition categories.

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

Jesus H. Franco, it’s been a busy week here at Film School Rejects. Mainly because of Fantastic Fest, of course. Since the last Reject Recap, we’ve posted 36 reviews of films from the event, plus six interviews, including one with Tim Burton. And we’re not done. The festival may be over, but we’ll still be rolling out the coverage for a couple more days. Obviously, this link to all that content, which can take you in reverse through that which you’ve missed and forward to what will appear (once it appears), is a crucial bookmark for you in these post-fantastic times. Once again, you can easily track through the week’s prominent other features by clicking on buttons around the main page, but here are some links to help you out: reviews (new releases include Pitch Perfect, Won’t Back Down, The Hole, Hotel Transylvania and Hello I Must Be Going); interviews (including Brian DePalma); the Reject Radio podcast (this week was episode 150!); Short Film of the Day and of course your best spot for the most pertinent movie news. Check out our ten best features from the past week plus some other additional reading after the break.

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Sinister

Mark our words, Sinister is going to scare you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hard-bitten horror freak or a screamer who watches scary films with your hands over your eyes, this thing is going to get you. Not sure about that? Well, here’s a red band trailer for you. Now, really, can someone please hold me? While we can recommend the trailer to those who want to get a real sense of the atmosphere and tone of the film, it does feature a number of scenes that could be considered spoilers (and a number of scenes that are part of some of the film’s most eye-poppingly scary moments). While most horror films certainly benefit from being viewed fresh, Sinister in particular works tremendously well if you take it in without any preconceptions (and without any knowledge of some of the truly disturbing stuff within it). Having seen it as a Secret Screening during this year’s SXSW, I got to watch it with absolutely no expectations, and it completely terrified me. Brave enough? Watch the new red band trailer for Sinister after the break.

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Sinister

I get it. You’ve just emerged from your half-hour long Metro ride only to be bothered by those Jews for Jesus pamphleteers and the Hooverville set up at Farragut North, so you just want to sit down at your desk with a bagel and get to work. No sweat. I can respect that. But it’s not like you’re going to fix the economy today or anything so why not surf around on our site, check out some short films or something, and go buy a ticket for our Tugg screening of Sinister – the new horror film from Scott Derrickson starring Ethan Hawke? We still need a few more confirmed seats before it’s a definite, and you can be the one to make it happen. If enough tickets are sold, it’ll take place Tuesday evening at the Regal Gallery Place Stadium 4 – which means you can snag a nice Legal Sea Foods dinner before and go bowling after. Plus, if you buy two tickets, when your date asks what the occasion is, you can suavely say. “Because it’s Tuesday.” Everyone loves that. Need more convincing? Check out the trailer:

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See Sinister First

Late last month we announced that we’d be partnering with Summit Entertainment and Tugg.com to bring our readers in Washington, DC an early look at Sinister, the thriller from the folks behind films like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Insidious. It’s our kind of film. Blood-soaked and envelope-pushing, perfect for viewing in a very dark room seated next to a large group of strangers, all of whom have questionable motives, at best. When it debuted at SXSW last year, not one but two of our writers showered it with praise. And now we’re bringing it to you. But first, we’ve a badass poster to share.

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Ethan Hawke in Sinister

If you’re looking forward to Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister, then you may want to get in on this chance to catch his restrained horror film sooner rather than later. The movie had its “surprise” premiere at SXSW this year and, after receiving some positive buzz there, Summit Entertainment is continuing to show promise in the project. Today the studio has launched “See Sinister First,” offering audiences the opportunity to attend an early screening of the film. You can join a screening which is already live or even request a showing for your hometown, and, for the latter option, use Tugg. The chance to make a screening close by you happen only lasts a week, so move fast. So far there are only showings scheduled in California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and one in Washington D.C. that Film School Rejects happens to be co-hosting. The screenings that reach full attendance will receive a collectible poster for Sinister, as well as possible Q & A from the filmmakers. All in all, a pretty snazzy deal.

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Fantastic Fest 2012 Poster

The second wave of Fantastic Fest films is incredibly irritating. Why? Because alongside the first wave of titles, it represents the best line up in the festival’s history, and I won’t be there for the first time in years. Have no fear, because we’ll have plenty of Rejects on the ground covering every inch of film, but I will be twiddling my thumbs at home wishing I was getting drunk off of a third Guinness milkshake and watching weird movies. Looper is absolutely at the pinnacle here when it comes to anticipation, but there’s also the Cannes freak-out Holy Motors and Sinister, the newest film from Exorcism of Emily Rose director Scott Derrickson. Plus, the Fantastic Fest faithful can see a follow-up to New Kids Turbo and the ambitious horror short anthology The ABCs of Death, birthed outside of a dumpster right behind the Alamo Drafthouse. There’s also a healthy amount of filmmakers in attendance and probably some crazy surprises and why not just check out the whole obnoxiously good list yourself?

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One of the worst kept secrets at SXSW this year was the “surprise” screening of director Scott Derrickson‘s Sinister, thanks to The Hollywood Reporter leaking the news before the screening. However, the movie itself still managed to deliver with some surprises. For one, this isn’t a found-footage movie, but, as Kate Erbland describes it in her positive review, “the found footage conceit is instead used as a source of information and scares, a clever little bit of storytelling that delivers the creeps with ease.” That’s a suitable way of describing Sinister. The movie has its scares, but many of them only hit you after the credits roll. This first trailer does almost too good a job of selling Derrickson’s restrained horror story, considering it gives away a handful of Sinister‘s finest moments. If you want to go into Sinister unspoiled, stop watching this at the 1:15 mark. Check out the trailer below.

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This year’s SXSW may be over, but it’s certainly not forgotten. Another week of barbeque, buddies, beer, and – oh yeah – movies down, and we’re still recovering, both in terms of remembering everything we saw and attempting to pry ourselves out of our stretchiest of pants. As with any film festival, the stunning depth of films available to watch has resulted in a solid handful of serious favorites. This time around, our twelve favorite films of the festival include big studio comedy, intimate documentary, the best action film in years, true independent features, and even a picture made entirely on cell phones. Take a look at our twelve favorites from this year’s SXSW after the break.

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