Sinister Written and directed by Scott Derrickson.

Sinister is still one of my favorite horror movies. Written and directed by Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose), Sinister, delivers a compelling character drama with a smart and disturbing film experience.

In the opening scene we see a grainy, scratchy film depicting a family of four standing beneath a tree with hoods over their heads and nooses around their necks. An unseen figure saws through a branch acting as a counterweight, causing them to hang and choke to death. It was a straight thumbs-up from me in terms of setting the mood.

Based around washed up true crime writer, Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who moves his unknowing family miles away to a house in which the grizzly opening scene took place only months earlier.

As the family unpack and settle into their new home, Ellison wanders up to the attic and discovers a crate containing Super 8 reels and a projector. Locked in his office later that night, Ellison fires up the machine and the footage he witnesses offers a distressingly vivid insight into the crime of the murder he is researching.

Sinister movie

If the deaths in Sinister weren’t disturbing enough and the kids not creepy enough, I’m sure at least the music made one or two hairs stand up on end. For horror films, the soundtrack can turn a movie from slightly scary to god damn creepy. And for me, Sinister soundtrack did that.

Sinister was made so effective, (and especially loved by me) by the ‘home movie’ videos, which would play silently but had this dark, demonic music added. The ethereal quality made them eerily dreamy creating an unnerving atmosphere which is what you want in a horror film. Director Scott Derrickson did well with choosing the right man for the sound as well as making a good, creepy movie.

The Sinister soundtrack is by composer Christopher Young, who has over 100 soundtracks to his credit. In the movie soundtrack CD liner notes he explains that he usually uses an orchestra, but with Sinister he composed his first all-synth/sound-design-based score. Well, he definitely scored with that.

BBQ ’79 (Silence teaches you how) and Sleepy Time ’98 (Sacrifice) are my favorites and songs I will play to the grandkids someday.

Like the tagline “once you see him, nothing can save you”, when you take the time to appreciate the music added, you’ll never forget him either.