The Horror Honeys: Have You Seen Mr. Boogie?

Have You Seen Mr. Boogie?

A Supernatural Honey Review by Suzanne

Sinister (2012)

We recently had the great fortune of having director and screenwriter Scott Derrickson visit our podcast for a second time. Scott is one of those guys who, even with the great success he’s having, is still humble and willing to give his time to talk about his projects. To prepare for the interview, several of the Honeys watched and/or re-watched some of the films we didn’t discuss on his last visit, one of them being Sinister. Since it has never been reviewed for the site and, since it falls in my jurisdiction, I was more than happy to oblige.

Ethan Hawke stars as Ellison Oswalt, a true crime writer trying to revive his career with a new hit novel. He moves his family into a home where its previous occupants were all murdered with the exception of one child, who remains missing. On the day of the move, Ellison finds a box in the attic full of Super 8 film reels and a projector. The labels on the reels indicate happy home movies; however the content of the film is anything but. Each reel contains footage of a family, first doing an activity together, like swimming or going on a picnic, then it shows their brutal murders at the hands of an unknown killer. The film reels include the family whose house he now lives in.

NOPE

Ellison begins researching the murders with the help of a local deputy and discovers that in each case, the entire family was killed except for one child, who was never found. As he digs deeper into the murders to find the connection and possibly the killer, his life and his grip on reality begin to unravel. 

The supernatural element begins with a symbol found in each film. In a brief, but welcome, cameo by Vincent D’Onofrio as Professor Jonas, we learn about the Bughuul. The Buguul would kill families and consume the souls of the children. Ellison also discovers drawings on the inside cover of the film box. The drawings depict each murder, as well as a figure identified as “Mr. Boogie.”


You know you’re probably in for it when a movie opens with grainy, Super 8 footage of a family being hung from a tree in their back yard. I’ve never seen a real snuff film, but I imagine it’s similar in its slow, tortuous manner. In fact, all of the films, with titles like Sleepy Time, BBQ, and Pool Party, are tough to watch, but none more so than Lawn Work. If you’ve seen Sinister, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, well, let’s just say that’s one scene that makes your desensitized Supernatural Honey cover her face in agony. EVERY. FREAKING. TIME.

While I’m not a fan of anything “found footage,” the way the home movies are integrated into the film works so well. As Ellison sits in the dark, sipping his whiskey and watching the footage, his reactions affect you and you find yourself looking over your shoulder.  

Ethan Hawke isn’t someone you’d expect to see in a horror film, but his strong dramatic background makes him ideal as Ellison. Sinister is very much a character driven drama, as well as horror and without a strong lead, it may not have worked so well. Also, as several of us noticed and discussed, Hawke went a bit method and physically turned himself into a carbon copy of director, Scott Derrickson. On our podcast, Scott admitted the character was more than a little autobiographical and that Ethan even went so far as to get the same brand of glasses for the shoot.

We see you, Scott... 
After so many years of watching all kinds of horror film, there is little that truly scares me. This film is the exception. Is it perfect? No. I could do without the jump scare at the end and there are a few other minor things, but those aren’t even worth mentioning. What Scott Derrickson created is something I never expected: a film that is unsettling, even in the daylight. 

Supernatural Honey Verdict: 4.5 home movies out of 5
Mr. Boogie gives the best hugs.

Sinister is available via Netflix DVD, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube VOD, Google Play, and blu-ray/DVD