The allure of a jump scare that perfectly-timed loud noise that sends a horror movie audience jumping is hard to ignore. They're easy but effective — if you want to shake people up nothing works as well as a well placed violin screech or slamming door sound effect. Thankfully the new evil ghost movie Sinister mostly avoids the easy way out by developing its lead character a novelist with a drinking problem and exploring an inventive twist on "found footage" (the guy actually finds footage). It all works quite well… that is until it starts relying on jump scares.
True crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) hasn't had a hit book in years but he hopes to change his life around by investigating a set of murders committed in the backyard of a suburban home. To immerse himself in the history Ellison moves his entire family into the house where the committed murders took place (and without telling them their new home's little secret). He immediately falls down the rabbit hole discovering a series of Super 8 movies depicting the first killings and a string of other bizarre murders all captured on gritty film. Ellison loses himself to the movies only flinching when his wife Tracey (Juliet Rylance) begs him to come to bed or his son Trevor (Michael Hall D'Addario) wakes up in a fit of terror from an anxiety ailment. But as he watches and rewatches the snuff films Ellison begins to see a connection between them: a shadowy figure who it turns out might be a supernatural entity.
Great horror rides on its lead and Hawke serves Sinister well. He's ambitious and overly confident of his abilities as he digs deeper and deeper into the history of the Super 8 movies. He makes some poor choices — why writers in movies are continually keeping secrets from their families and drinking way more whiskey than their finances would allow is one of Hollywood's great mysteries — but Hawke is adept at making the act of watching someone watch something interesting. His obsession with the mystery his slowly disintegrating mind is reminiscent of Jack Torrence in The Shining.
But before Sinister gets that involved with its central character it strays into run-of-the-mill haunted house territory. Vincent D'Onofrio pops up for a quick expositional Skype chat to inform Ellison that the dark being in his home movies might be a Pagan deity that eats the souls of children. That would explain all those pesky kid ghosts that keep whispering in the ear of Ellison's Ashley (Clare Foley) and making creepy bumps in the night.
Sinister's most terrifying material comes from the grainy "found footage." When director Scott Derrickson moves back and forth between Ellison and the films the writer illuminated only by the flickering projector it's chilling. But the movie progresses away from that into its own conventional horror movie. Weighed down by explanation and meandering action Sinister loses track of its character angle in favor of the almighty jump scare. It's exhausting — but then again as the nickname suggests they never fail to make one jump.
Wagner and her longtime boyfriend, actor Barry Watson, welcomed daughter Clover Clementyne last week (30May12).
A statement from the couple to People.com reads: "We are overwhelmed with love and joy at the birth of our daughter."
The baby's first name was reportedly inspired by Inside Daisy Clover, a Wood film from 1965.
Clover is Wagner's first child; Watson has two sons from his marriage to Tracy Hutson.
The actress' publicist has confirmed the Two Girls & a Guy star is pregnant with actor husband Barry Watson's baby.
Wagner, who is tragic movie icon Natalie Wood's daughter, is "expecting soon", according to Life & Style magazine.
The baby will be Teaching Mrs. Tingle star Watson's third child - his son Oliver turns seven on Wednesday (02May12) and he also has a four year old, Felix, from his second marriage to Tracy Hutson.
Source: Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal today reports on a new phenomenon in the Extreme Makeover family: Extreme Foreclosure.
ABC's heartstring-tugging show, in which down-on-their-luck families are given a giant shot in the arm via new -- and in most cases -- palatial digs, is finding that the new homes are proving to be more of a burden than a boon for some of those families.
The Journal reports that some people are tapping the equity on their expansive new homes, only to fall behind -- and into foreclosure.
The homeowners in many cases find themselves struggling to keep up with increased utility bills and bigger tax assessments.
The show's producers say they are aware of the problem and are making changes by downsizing.
As the Journal notes, back in the boom, the makeovers got a little out of hand because of competition among builders seeking free publicity and who tried to outdo previous projects.
Now, the show is backing away from the boom-era showpieces. "We scaled back," Conrad Ricketts, an executive producer for the show, told the WSJ.
The average size of current makeovers is 2,800 to 3,000 square feet whereas in 2005 one episode featured a house that was remade into a 5,300-square-foot English castle.
A swimming pool is no longer a must, unless it could be used for therapy and lavish landscaping is out.
Tracy Hutson, an interior designer who has been with Extreme Makeover since the beginning, says homes are also receiving more earth-friendly products. "I think our hearts were in the right place, but we just got carried away," she told the Journal. "It can be extreme without being the biggest house you've ever seen."