Yes, another horror movie…
Sinister is, for its first half, a genuinely scary film populated by reasonably well-developed characters. Ethan Hawke, writing a true crime novel, finds a handful of creepy snuff films in the attic of his latest house (the site of a recent murder, naturally) and watches them, one by one, late at night. There’s a substantial amount of creepiness in the silence after each film ends, and Sinister gets a lot of mileage out of bumps in the night; the same bumps you hear after turning off a horror movie late at night.
It falls apart in the back stretch, as such films tend to. The introduction of a supernatural element collapses the carefully constructed creepy atmosphere; supernatural threats can certainly be frightening, but they pale in comparison to the idea of a serial killer stalking around one’s house at night. There’s a lot of horror movie logic in the film that I forgave while watching, expecting a (heavily foreshadowed) twist that would explain it. There is a twist (and it’s not bad) but it does nothing to explain some, in retrospect, daft actions earlier in the film.
Nonetheless, Sinister is truly scary, especially its first hour.