For some reason I thought I had made a blog post making fun of Sinister and how it was basically a Slender Man rip off. I thought of it at the time, so it's possible my thoughts were so loud I thought I actually posted them. Who knows?
Anyways, I was in fact wrong about that assessment. Sinister did manage to be its own thing. Unfortunately, it was just...underwhelming.
A very important aspect of horror is the build up and the suspense. Timing is everything, and the movie does that well. It unfolds slowly, and becomes more frightening the more you know. That was done well. The innocuous sounding titles of the videos the character watched became scarier the more you saw what they really meant. As such, the movie built anticipation.
Unfortunately, the second important aspect, the pay off, was a let down. For one thing, I still don't think the monster, Bughuul, was that scary looking. It looked like a guy in a raggedy shirt making an attempt to look like the Joker. I thought he looked a bit goofy.
The other problem was the children themselves. Their "stalking" the main character through the house wasn't scary. It was hilarious. It looked like exactly what it was-kids being silly and trying to prank someone. It was the supernatural equivalent of knock and run.
Plus, some of the logic just doesn't hold up. Why film everything (except because Slender Man vlogs were, in fact, popular at the time the movie was made)? Why go through this elaborate set up where the children must kill their families (under mind control) before Bughuul takes them/eats their souls/whatever? Also, Bughuul finally taking the main character's daughter was a let down. When you have a threatening monster, you expect them to act threatening. So when the monster doesn't drag the child into the screen, and instead picks her up and gently carries her in, it looks rather narmy.
The final problem was the characters themselves. I just couldn't care about them. The main character is, simply put, a selfish jerk. In order to write true crime, he thinks he has to move his family around to these different murder sites. Why? How many true crime authors actually do that? He does this knowing the impact that moving the kids around will have, as well as the way locals will treat his family. The other characters were two dimensional. What do I know about the mom? She's...umm...British. The kids? The son has night terrors that aren't related to anything, and the daughter is an artist who draws the creepiest stick figures and unicorns ever, even before she starts using blood for her art. That's it. I couldn't find it in my heart to care what happened to these people.
So, the movie succeeded at build up, and failed at pretty much everything else. What could have been genuinely scary was just...well...boring.