Movie review: Sinister

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From the October 11, 2012 edition

October can only mean two things: Pumpkin-flavored everything everywhere and scary movies in theaters.

Paving the way for another “Paranormal Activity” is “Sinister,” a boilerplate horror flick that offers enough scares to scratch your itch, even as it just evokes better scary movies.

Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) is a true-crime novelist looking for his first big hit in a decade. When he moves his family to the small-town site of a gruesome murder, things get weird.

He finds a box of old home movies in the creepy attic, each containing footage of a ritualistic murder of a family. The crimes take place in various cities in the U.S. and are separated by decades. Ellison must unravel the connection before it consumes him — and his family.

“Sinster” is a bit paint-by-the-numbers, and while Hawke probably elevates this a little, his writer-driven-mad bit won’t make you forget Jack Nicholson in “The Shining.”

The found-footage scares simply prey on how grainy footage feels creepier in the age of YouTube and cameraphones. And the mystery resolution is a little too easy to see coming.

If you want movie theater scares, you could do worse. Or better.