Like the endless streams of 8mm film that Ethan Hawke stumbles across in Sinister, found footage still appears to be the USP with audiences queuing up round the block to get scared out of their skin. Shaky camera work, bumps in the night and a rather dubious looking entity have made this genre the new and arguably better gimmick genre that torture porn never was when it splattered all over the noughties with the likes of Saw and Hostel.
This latest offering from the producer of Paranormal Activity and Insidious carries on that same formula and follows Ellison (Hawke), a true-crime novelist who moves into a new home in small-town Pennsylvania with his wife and children to seek inspiration for his new novel. Still desperate to make a name for himself, Ellison, who still clings on to a previous book which landed him his fifteen minutes of fame finds his inspiration courtesy of a box of home movies. He discovers that the previous residents were horrifically murdered and that the shadowy supernatural entity known as “Bagul” is targeting children (to consume their souls no less) as the catalyst to the grisly murders that Ellison witnesses on the movies.
Delving deeper into the past of the murder, Ellison discovers multiple homicides of previous families spanning over fifty years and linking them all to Bagul. As he is being taken over by spooky goings on in the house, namely being the Jigsaw-like entity turning his head on Ellison’s laptop at one stage and a held up photograph actually showing the exact position and presence of Bagul when the photo is removed from the screen, the ante of the horror cranks up to a more than acceptable degree.
The common issue with films of this nature are the performances, or the lack of. Not in this case as Ethan Hawke gives a strong and reliable performance as a failing writer who is sucked into the supernatural world that led to the murder of the previous owners of his new abode. Meanwhile director Scott Derrikson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) provides enough jumps and scare tactics to test cinema-goers heart rates with sharp editing and an eerie score to boot. Just remember when queuing for this round the corner to keep an eye on your back!