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Why you need to watch 'Sinister' on Netflix this Halloween

'Sinister' - Scott Derrickson
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7.4

With just a couple of days to Halloween, we, at Best of Netflix, are taking a look at some of the finest horror films on Netflix, the scary movies that deserve a special mention owing to their haunting premise. Amidst the burgeoning horror content on the streaming platform, the film Sinister lives up to its eponymous title with its harrowing premise. 

Directed by Scott Derrickson, who delivered plenty of horror films such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Deliver Us From Evil while conjuring the evil Dormammu in Doctor Strange, the film stars Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance, James Ransone, Fred Dalton Thompson and Michael Hall D’Addario. 

Although the reviews for the film were not very great upon initial release, the 2012 film is quite intriguing and makes it to our top 10 horror films in the last decade. 

Unbeknownst to his family, true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt aka Hawke relocates them to a site of a horrifying murder where the previous owners were hung from a branch of a tree in the backyard and a child was missing. Oswalt, desperate to chase his high for success, discovers a couple of film reels that document gruesome murders taking place from the 60s to the 90s to various families as they are burnt in the car, drowned in the pool or run over by a garden lawnmower as they lie unconscious. 

He also begins to have strange, occult experiences in the house and is haunted by an unknown entity that almost drives him to the point of madness. 

Hawke as the flawed and greedy protagonist is unlikeable from the very start as we cannot fathom how sick and creepy one would have to be to move into the house of crime. His obsession with fame that he had previously received for one of his books, drove him into the evil clutches of the demonic and the sinister. He contemplates handing over the reels to the police yet selfishly keeps them to himself to hold on to the last remnants of his claim to fame. 

His insatiable desire to be famous leads to his eventual death when his daughter Ashley says, “Don’t worry, Daddy! I will make you famous again”, before hacking him to pieces with an axe. His ending seems fated and offers a psychological analysis of how chasing the American Dream often makes one take up regrettable offers and make bizarre decisions. 

The horror is not just restricted to the sudden jump scares, the eerie child murderers or the grisly tapings. It receives a boost in the psychological repercussions of the same as the real world and its operations add a sense of claustrophobia to the film. The pagan deity, Bughuul is just another entity that signifies greed and obsession leading to imminent downfall.  

The idea of ‘image’ forms an integral part of the film — Oswalt tries to uphold his image of being a revered author, Ashley paints images that serve as a portal for Bughuul to enter and Oswalt is once again caught in the gruesome reverie of deadly images that prompt him to write his book. Media thus has an undeniable impact on Oswalt and cannot be destroyed. Even after he burns them, the reels persist and show how violent and gory the crimes committed by the missing children are. 

While we mourn his son and his wife’s death, we saw that coming for Oswalt. Ashley looks into the camera towards the end in an ominous manner and sends chills down our spine. Ahead of Halloween, make sure you tune into watching this film on Netflix to revel in the glory of pure, unadulterated horror that will make you think!