Sinister

  • Review Date: October 8, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Scary, intense horror film involves kids and murder.
  • Review Date: October 8, 2012
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Horror
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

Age(i)

2
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5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Perhaps the biggest message here is "curiosity killed the cat," though the main character does eventually learn to put his family before his work.

Positive role models

The main character is a troubled writer who claims to be helping others but really seems more concerned with his own fame, fortune, and legacy. He does eventually learn to place his family's safety before these things, but it may be too late.

Violence

Genuinely scary/shocking moments. The main character watches Super 8 films with grisly scenes of murder, such as a group hanging, a family burned alive inside a car, a family drowned in a swimming pool, and people cut up by a power lawnmower. There are suggestions of slaughter and images of walls decorated with blood.

Sex

A married couple shares a couple of kisses and are shown sleeping in the same bed.

Language

Language is infrequent but includes a few uses of "s--t." In one scene, a character says the word "f--king" but drops a couple of letters so that it's not quite clear. Characters also say "damn it," "goddamn," "Christ" (as an exclamation), and "oh my God."

Consumerism

The main character regularly uses an Apple computer and iPhone. The computer's screen and its various functions, commands, and applications -- such as Google, iChat, Safari, and QuickTime -- are shown often.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The main character is shown gulping down whisky during tense moments, though he's never shown drunk, and it's not established that he has a drinking problem. He's also seen drinking a beer at dinner, and he lights up a cigarette during one especially tense scene.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Sinister -- a horror movie from the director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose -- is about a potentially supernatural killer and the disappearance of several children. It has some genuinely scary, tense, and shocking moments, including images of gruesome murders shown on Super 8 film footage. There's also a scene of blood spattered all over several walls. Language is a minor issue ("s--t" is used a couple of times), but the main character gulps whisky during tense moments and also smokes a cigarette.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

True crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) arrives in a small town with his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two kids -- Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) and Ashley (Clare Foley) -- in tow, preparing to work on his latest book. He's writing about a family of four that was murdered, hung simultaneously from a tree, after which the youngest daughter disappeared. Unfortunately, Ellison has chosen to move into the murder house itself, where he finds a box of Super 8 films that depict the actual murder, as well as several others. As he pieces the puzzle together, strange and terrifying things begin to happen. Ellison's life becomes a race to finish the book before he and his family become too deeply involved in a deadly situation.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Writer/director Scott Derrickson has a touch for using old horror movie tools to create new scares, and he also incorporates several interesting themes into SINISTER. Even if some of his attempts don't quite work some of the time, he still gets credit for trying. To start, he's created an interesting character in Ellison, who's struggling between recapturing his former glory and keeping his family safe, pulled helplessly in two directions at once. And Hawke -- wearing a funny, puffy "grandpa" sweater and shoes -- emphasizes a fascinating clash between courage and weakness in his performance.

Derrickson does pack too many concepts into his story, mixing the supernatural with the mysterious, and it doesn't quite come together; the themes become jumbled up by the final payoff. But the movie has some terrifying, startling moments, mainly thanks to a crafty, strangely prickly music score by Christopher Young. Sinister won't hold up to scrutiny, but it's worth a look for horror fans.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Sinister's violence, which occurs mostly in the Super 8 films the main character watches. How did it affect you? How did it compare to other horror movies you've seen?

  • Is Sinister scary? What were the scariest parts? Were they sudden jumps, or did it feel slower and creepier?

  • What's the appeal of horror movies like Sinister?

  • How does the movie depict drinking? Are there realistic consequences?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 12, 2012
DVD release date:February 19, 2013
Cast:Ethan Hawke, Fred Dalton Thompson, Juliet Rylance
Director:Scott Derrickson
Studio:Summit Entertainment
Genre:Horror
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:disturbing violent images and some terror

This review of Sinister was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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Written byAnonymous May 30, 2013
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Beghuul gives you the creeps!

This movie is definitely the scariest movie I have ever seen. Beghuul was disturbing and very scary it was intense throughout and very eerie. Some kids under 15 will be able to handle it but insidious was pg-13 it was quite scary but sinister was way worse which is why it is rated r
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byShadowofchaos41 October 12, 2012
AGE
18
QUALITY
 

Terrible Just TERRIBLE

NO. JUST NO. Why would someone want to see something like this
What other families should know
Too much violence
Teen, 14 years old Written bybaseball9595 October 12, 2012
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

SCARY!

I thought this was an extremely good horror movie. It is really scary, and had a really good plot. It is also very violent. It also has the occasional s**t, but that is pretty much it. A good movie for all horror fans
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written bybluecat189 October 14, 2012
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Great Movie

Great plot with interesting twists.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing

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