Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Possession (2012) & Sinister (2012)

Did a supernatural double feature with the lady last night (who is also a hardcore action movie fan).  I wasn't expecting much from either movie but then again I don't expect a lot from most horror movies these days.  Not because I'm overly critical but because, well, they suck.  As for these two movies, the critics are split down the middle (not surprising) with Ebert coming down on the thumbs-up for both (kind of surprising).  Personally the reviewers who I don't like didn't like the movies (*cough* Marc Savlov) so critic reviews aren't changing my opinions of the movie. 

Achtung!  No spoilers!
I was pleasantly surprised by both movies.  Okay, Sinister had some hair-raising moments but first The Possession.  Loosely based upon the urban legend of the Dybbuk Box, it's a story about a divorced guy who buys his daughter a Dybbuk Box at a garage sale and the ensuing terror.  For a PG-13 movie it's got some serious creepiness factors to it.  One scene isn't supernatural terror but there's an intensity to it that has made it stuck with me.  Overall the movie was well done with a protagonist, played by Jeffery Dean Morgan, I actually managed to like and sympathize with (instead of most of the under-the-age of thirty dickbags who populate horror movies).  Well shot and totally lacking in flailing found footage camera work.  Oh and that guy I thought jokingly was Matisyahu, yeah that's Matisyahu.  Worth watching as a double feature with The Unborn (2009).

Sinister was one of those movies I saw the trailer once awhile back and then refused to read anything or watch anything about (I've done the same thing with Mama).  I'm glad I went into this movie fairly cold beause some of it was severely intense.  I was pretty leery of Ethan Hawke being in a horror movie (though thinking about it, I did enjoy Daybreakers - critics were split on that one too) but he worked in the role.  There's a level of failing desperation to his character that worked for me.  His Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer who was on the NYT Bestsellers' List in his early 30s is now a man in his early 40s who needs another hit book, financially and emotionally.  His actions are brought on by these factors and the rest of the movie sprials out of control.  If it hadn't been a horror movie it could have made the plot for an interesting indie character drama/thriller.

As far as a supernatural horror movie goes, Sinister comes out swinging right from the get go.  There aren't any real lulls in the tension because even if there's not something supernatural going on there's domestic tension as Oswalt and his family splinter under stress.  One particular scene of high tension is one in which nothing happens.  It was kind of a startling scene (and very well shot) because of the other boo! scares that kind of abound.  Yeah, there are quite a few boo! scares in addition to some seriously twisted goings on.  While Sinister is in no way "gory" it is pretty hardcore.  The sound design is really excellent as well, with a soundtrack that just pulses with intensity.  Actually, thinking about it, the sound design was brilliantly done and well balanced (unlike some movies which thunder their scores and Bay-splosions at you while mumbling the dialogue so you feel like some old fart, "What'd he say?  Who has the soup or the natural?").  Sinister is definitely worth watching.  Hell, I want to watch it again.

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