For many of us horror fans, our love of the genre has been there since we were children. My first exposure to any horror film (not made for kids) was a full page newspaper ad for the film A Nightmare on Elm Street 2. I swear I kept the newspaper open to that page all day looking at Freddy’s burned and grinning face. Shortly thereafter, I discovered a weekly horror film (hosted by my favorite host The Son of Ghoul). Many of these films were over the top exploitation (cut for television of course), and he would doctor the films up with funny noises and dubbed over lines. Of course, this is where I discovered that 1970s slow burn WTF movie that seems to be a thing of the past.
Something Sinister is a throwback to this genre. It’s a micro-budget film that doesn’t try to scare you with gore or effects. No. This film is a wonderfully paced mood piece that just leaves you with a creepy feeling afterward. Filmmaker Christopher Dye (who also wrote the script) manages to pose question after question without giving a true answer to the horror we are seeing.
Rachel Appelbaum plays Amelia, an older teen/young adult that lives with her Aunt Helen (Maria Olsen). Aunt Helen is quite abusive, and Amelia is a shell of the girl she alludes to once being. They live together in Aunt Helen’s isolated house. Right from the beginning we realize something is afoul in this film as Amelia spends the first opening scene looking for her dog Rufus (that we hear howling and barking). Aunt Helen then promptly informs us that Rufus has been dead for a long time.
From this moment on, we are pulled through a labyrinth of half truths, insanity, supernatural, and just confusing atmosphere. Is Amelia crazy, or is it Aunt Helen? What happened to the duo, and why does Amelia see and hear her dead dog?
This film conjures up memories of Rosemary’s Baby, Jacob’s Ladder, the more recent Session 9, and all those nameless films I used to watch on The Son of Ghoul in my mom’s room every Saturday afternoon. It’s just creepy and confusing. It’s also enthralling as I was pulled through many theories and still came out confused as to how it ended. Adding to the mood, the version I was given was in black and white. Many times, I couldn’t quite make out what I was being shown, but that left my imagination filling in the blanks. Appelbaum does a great job carrying the film, and Olsen does a lot of silent stares (in which she excels brilliantly).
As of right now, Something Sinister does not have a release date. I’m guessing it will start making its festival runs here next year (as my copy also had “temporary” music with it). You can follow the film on Facebook for the latest news. Definitely check this one out.