‘Sinister’ suspenseful, but not scary

Reviewer’s Rating: ★1/2

Remember when ‘scary’ movies would have the audience afraid to turn out the lights at night? Remember when they would have you looking over your shoulder, making sure all of the windows and doors were locked, and if at all possible, climbing into bed with someone else until those gruesome images were out of your head?

Well, that probably won’t happen after seeing “Sinister.”

In “Sinister,” Ethan Hawke, who plays the rookie cop in “Training Day” and the sergeant in “Assault on Precinct 13,” is now Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer that apparently refuses to come to the realization that his 15 minutes of fame has ended. Ellison wrote a No.1 best-selling novel 10 years ago, but all of his subsequent books have been flops.

Desperate for another shot at fame and fortune, he does the unimaginable. Ellison moves his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and their two children, Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and Ashley (Clare Foley), into the house of a murdered family so that he can use the circumstances surrounding their deaths for his new book.

Even though the premise is interesting, nothing about this movie is truly new. It is very reminiscent of “Poltergeist,” “Paranormal Activity,” and “Scream.” If you have not seen any of those movies, you just might be frightened. However, if you’re a true fan of the horror genre, this movie’s lack of creativity will probably just be upsetting.

Hawke clearly demonstrates why he has been nominated for a Tony and an Academy Award, but his onscreen performance is not enough to carry the film. In other words, Hawke easily convinces the audience that he is really frightened. Unfortunately, nothing in the story is scary enough to properly accompany his acting ability.

“Sinister” does have its suspenseful moments. In fact, when the music plays, the audience is immediately sitting on the edge of their seat waiting for something—anything—to happen. Unfortunately, when that sinister moment finally appears, it’s a complete disappointment. The images that are meant to be gruesome and conjure fear continue to be a let-down again and again.

Scary movies are supposed to be, well, scary. They should leave a lasting impression that has the viewer drinking mass amounts of energy drinks or coffee just to keep their eyes open. Those who watch “Sinister,” however, should have absolutely no problem sleeping.