Sinister vs. Argo

Kenny D October 12, 2012 0
Sinister vs. Argo

What a great weekend! Not only do we get Seven Psychopaths (review to come later), but we also get the horror film I’ve been waiting for, Sinister, and Ben Affleck’s 3rd directorial effort, Argo. This is one of the best weekends for new releases in recent memory. I’m not wasting any more time with introduction. Let’s break it down.

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Watching someone else’s home movies make me want to hang myself too.

Ethan Hawke plays Ellison Oswalt, a true crime novelist whose 15 minutes of fame ended with his last big bestseller 10 years earlier. After writing a few duds, he has moved his family to a new house so he can research the deaths of a local family by hanging, and the disappearance of their daughter. Oswalt’s wife even asks, “We aren’t living 2 houses down from the crime scene are we?” To that, Oswalt honestly says “No.” They are living at the house of the deceased. Never a good thing. Almost immediately he finds a lone box in the attic, containing an old camera and Super 8 tapes.

Of course he watches them and in the first he sees the previous occupants being hanged in the backyard tree. Yeah, it’s pretty disturbing. And don’t worry, there are more tapes, and they get more gruesome. But he can not help but watch each, thinking it may lead to clues on the girl’s disappearance, and perhaps they will help him to write his next great book. The more videos he watches, the more he starts to see a dark personage appearing at each death. You can only guess that the more Oswalt sees this creature, the more trouble he and his family are in.

Seeing a movie like Sinister is a breath of fresh air. Well, fresh air and horror may not mix. (Breath of freshly decomposed corpses perhaps?) This movie wastes no time in the setup, but you actually learn about the characters and worry for their safety. Hawke is solid as the writer who will sacrifice his family’s safety for another hit, and his wife (Juliet Rylance) is believable as the supportive wife who understands her husbands motives more than he does himself.

The refreshing thing about Sinister is a lack of jump scares. Yes, there are some, that’s inevitable, but it relies more on its soundtrack to fill you with dread. The videotapes are what will haunt you after you leave the theater. They show each family in happier times, being secretly videotaped, and quickly cut to the horrific deaths. The fact that Hawke’s character can’t watch at times, but can’t help himself to watch every tape is reminiscent of the darkness of the movie 8mm. Though with 100% less of Nicolas Cage.

This movie has been compared to Insidious and I would say that comparison is fair (Without the controversial ending). It’s a slow burn horror movie I would compare to the great haunted house movies of the 70’s and 80’s.

Tis the season for horror and Sinister will not disappoint. It’s not perfect, but it will haunt you afterwards. See this movie.

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“We’re currently on the lookout for a man named Walter White.”

In 1979, the US Embassy in Iran was overwhelmed by violent Iranian protesters. They stormed the consulate and took 66 people as hostages for 444 days. Six American diplomats managed to escape and find sanctuary in the home of a Canadian Ambassador. Though, these 6 people were sought after and had no hope of getting home without being taken hostage themselves.

Ben Affleck plays Tony Mendez, a covert CIA agent who specializes in hostage extradition. After hearing of our government’s flimsy ideas for rescuing the 6 Americans, he plots to create a terrible science fiction movie called Argo, and intends to visit Iran for the possible filming of the movie. While there, he plans to give 6 Canadian work passports to the Americans and have them take on the roles of the filmmakers, so he can fly them home safely.

Say what you will about Ben Affleck. The man is a great director. Both The Town and Gone Baby Gone are great movies. Now with Argo, he is 3 for 3. It’s great to see Affleck out of his Boston comfort zone and make a great political thriller.

The first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes will have you biting your fingernails. It’s felt like camping, because it was intense! (sorry, had to) There are slow parts of this movie but for those that pay close attention, it shows the upper management similarities between Hollywood and the US Government. It’s almost frustrating how many chains of command in both arenas that Mendez has to go through to make his plan happen.

The cast is great. You’ll be surprised to see very familiar faces in very minor roles. Affleck does fine. He is nothing special, but he is able to carry the movie. the subplot of his separation and talking to his kid feel forced and the only real payoff for that is the very last scene.

Movies like this are great because they make you want to study up on what really happened. My criticism for Argo is that it shows little of the hostages living under terrible conditions for over a year and only focuses on the remaining 6 who lived comfortably in Iran.

Go see this movie. It is a better movie than Sinister, but being that it’s nearly Halloween, Sinister begs to be seen as well. See both. And while you’re at it, make it a triple feature and see Seven Psychopaths.

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