Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 30
  2. Negative: 3 out of 30
  1. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Oct 10, 2012
    75
    And then there is Vincent D'Onofrio, as a university professor of the occult and mythological, who opens up a line of possibility that eventually saves the ending from being a red herring. Yes, the ending is horrifying, but I don't believe in that stuff. I'm pretty sure I don't.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Oct 11, 2012
    75
    Even though the ending is inescapable (and therefore predictable), that does little to diminish its effectiveness.
  3. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Oct 10, 2012
    75
    I knew perfectly well, after a while, what Sinister was going to scare me with. But I got scared anyway.
  4. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Oct 11, 2012
    63
    The clichés are still clichés. They've just been renovated.
  5. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Oct 10, 2012
    83
    It's all done in questionable taste, mucking around in the nasty terrain of snuff films and children in constant peril, but Sinister is smart and well-crafted, and it scarcely gives the audience a moment to breathe.
  6. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Oct 10, 2012
    50
    The film's sound design is also expertly wrought with a blend of nearly subliminal noises, bumps in the night, and other frights.
  7. Reviewed by: Liam Lacey
    Oct 11, 2012
    50
    A mixed bag of old-school and contemporary horror tricks that occasionally raises a hair prickle of intrigue.
  8. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Oct 12, 2012
    40
    A twitchy Mr. Hawke builds a persuasive portrait of desperation with little help from the script and despite playing a character who makes so many mistakes he might as well be on a suicide mission.
  9. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Oct 11, 2012
    38
    The hero of Sinister is almost unaccountably dumb. So, unfortunately, is the movie.
  10. 20
    Sinister did something I thought would be impossible: It made this lifelong horror freak abhor horror movies.
  11. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Oct 23, 2012
    80
    Now this is a scary movie. And, given that it's a horror film, that means it's a good one. [18 Oct 2012]
  12. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Oct 16, 2012
    60
    Sinister has so much going for it - adult psychology, a great bitchfest of a marital meltdown - that you wince when it finally makes some rather dull choices involving the supernatural.
  13. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Oct 12, 2012
    40
    Pros and cons aside, Sinister has the benefit of arriving in the thick of Halloween season, right when movie-goers are most hungry for a few scares. And they'll get them from Derrickson's film, too.
  14. Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    Oct 8, 2012
    40
    Throughout Sinister, the rooms remain darker than crypts, whether at breakfast or dinnertime, and the sound design causes everything in the house to moan and groan in consort with the hero's worrisome quest. I still can't decide what creaks the most: the floors, the doors, the walls, the dialogue, the acting, or the fatal boughs outside.
  15. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Sep 22, 2012
    75
    The movie makes up for uneven dialogue and pacing issues through sheer horrific imagery.
  16. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Oct 11, 2012
    42
    Sinister is basically a collection of bogus snuff films linked by standard haunted house tricks - everything creaking and slamming, with the power conveniently shut off.
  17. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Oct 10, 2012
    70
    Occasionally stupid (stretching even fright-flick conventions) but scary nonetheless, the picture should please horror fans.
  18. Reviewed by: Peter Bradshaw
    Oct 4, 2012
    40
    The snuff-porn aesthetic might suggest a realist drama, but a supernatural dimension is brought into play, making the plot directionless. There isn't an ounce of ingenuity in the way the movie is concluded, but some generic expertise in the way it is put together.
  19. Reviewed by: Nick Pinkerton
    Oct 9, 2012
    80
    Hawke's taut performance - lightly parodying his own career doldrums while playing an egotistical hack who's a close cousin of John Cassavetes's self-loathing actor in Rosemary's Baby - is totally credible.
  20. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Sep 30, 2012
    60
    Derrickson bounces back from his insipid redo of "The Day The Earth Stood Still" with an effective chiller that's got a skeleton or two in its closet.
  21. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Oct 11, 2012
    40
    The movie is full of feints, shocks and scenes of particularly perverse violence, but nothing about it is fresh enough to haunt you in the night. It's predictable.
  22. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Oct 11, 2012
    50
    Here's the thing: Found footage is scary when - because - it leaves you to fill in a lot of the blanks yourself. But actually watching whole families have terrible things done to them - well, hard-core horror fans may dig it, I guess. I'd call it forced voyeurism of the worst sort.
  23. Reviewed by: Scott Bowles
    Oct 11, 2012
    50
    Despite the hype, this horror story can't shake its run-of-the-mill storytelling.
  24. Reviewed by: Kevin C. Johnson
    Oct 12, 2012
    75
    It comes together with a gruesome though excellent ending that some will find difficult to shake.
  25. Reviewed by: Mark Olsen
    Oct 11, 2012
    80
    Rather than another drearily workaday horror picture, Sinister uses the supernatural to underline its examination of the all-too-human foibles of insecurity and myopic self-centeredness. As the best horror stories so often do, Sinister makes clear that we are our own boogeymen, the worst monsters of all.
  26. Reviewed by: Miriam Bale
    Oct 11, 2012
    40
    Ridiculous, and never scary, and with the worst ghost makeup in the history of the horror genre, Sinister is enjoyable, even funny at times. Most amusing might be watching Hawke play a character willing to do anything to regain his fame.
  27. Reviewed by: Nick McCarthy
    Oct 10, 2012
    50
    Ellison's fascination with celluloid to solve a crime recalls Antonioni's "Blowup," but Scott Derrickson is unable to conjure an aura that isn't as transparent and weightless as a ghost.
  28. Reviewed by: James Rocchi
    Oct 10, 2012
    20
    Sinister is pretty much everything to hate about modern horror in one mixed bag, a ramshackle teardown of jump-scares and creaky tricks, saw-it-coming "surprises" and the lead-footed thud of inevitability as it tediously places one clumsy foot in front of the other, plodding towards a finale that comes far too late.
  29. Reviewed by: Matt Glasby
    Sep 28, 2012
    60
    An enjoyable, if boilerplate, boo-flick that maintains an enviable rate of scares per minute by throwing everything – demons, ghosts, snakes, loud noises – at the screen.
  30. Reviewed by: Peter Debruge
    Sep 22, 2012
    80
    The scares are not just intense but unyielding in this compelling horror yarn from "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" director Scott Derrickson.
User Score
7.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 220 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 50 out of 70
  2. Negative: 7 out of 70
  1. Oct 12, 2012
    2
    Sinister was a movie that I had happily be awaiting for some time. I really wanted to see if this movie could successfully scare me. The trailers looked good enough to convince me to drop 12 bucks and see what was up. What I got was a series of predicable scares, a villain who is completely useless, and road map for the last act of the film. If you pay attention to the movie, even with one eye open and half asleep, you can see every twist and turn this movie has coming by at least 10 mins before it does. Not to say the jump scares don't make you jump, they do, but for what? This movie is advertised as a horror movie with an actual story.. and sad to say It just isn't here. The last 5 min of the movie feel so lazy I was blown away, it just sort of stops. As if the movie is saying, "I'm bored of entertaining you... go home." I won't go into detail for spoiler sake, but instead of keeping adrenaline high an going out with a bang, this movie plays it safe, and you walk out of the theater with none of the scares or really anything for that matter to remember. I really wanted to love this movie and all it had to offer, but clearly this is one best saved for catching on a random day when it hits HBOGO. Full Review »
  2. Oct 12, 2012
    5
    This film is more creepy and messed up than it is actually scary. All but one of the films scares are jump scares, and they're shown in the trailer. Really this is just like "Insidious" just with more gruesome killings. Not an awful movie, just not really scary. I will sleep fine tonight. Full Review »
  3. Oct 12, 2012
    9
    After a once-successful author decides to move his family into a house where a heinous murder took place, things start to get weird. That is great for the viewer and bad for the family. This film is a nightmarish voyage into the past of unsolved murders and how the missing link doesn't always need to be found. The chills are perfectly timed and the pace of this thrilling horror film is perfect, weaving in and out of states of undeniable tension with little effort. Ethan Hawke is superb as the the distraught author. This isn't a by-the-numbers genre piece. It packs soe interesting surprises. And it doesn't hold back on the thrills, chills, and gore. For the most part, this is what horror should be. The flaw, and not really a big one, is that yet again a horror movie features characters that do not act rationally. Still, that's a minor setback to an otherwise perfect gem of taught horror. Full Review »