Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sinister: a Film Review

For those who don't know, Sinster is a recently released horror film. The plot is the standard a family moves into a home and creepy things start happening theme. The “hook” or “twist” in this movie vs other movies where families move into homes with creepy things happening is that these creepy things are being caused by he “pagan deity Bughuul ”.

As a horror buff I want to say that the movie is acceptable. The pacing is good and the movie doesn't go on too long. While the “twists” and “turns” are predicable the movie does make them still enjoyable.  While there is a little too much repetition of the same super 8 film work gore, the scares and twists do inpire legitimate jumps and startles. The music and lighting is excellent. The characters are believable and the acting is good. An extra special kudos goes out to the children acting leads Michael Hall D'Addario and Clare Foley whose performance really draws the viewer into the drama both in their commitment to character and in the viewer's concern for them. I would recommend it as a causal Halloween scare and a good way to spend almost two hours, but I wouldn't mark it as outstanding or a must see.

As a pagan, I was interested initially in the plot. We as a group aren't mentioned, but the idea of a pagan god as a central horror theme intrigued me. I was further interested in seeing how a god who “actually lived in the images themselves and they were gateways into his realm” would strike terror and fear into the family of the film and the audience viewing. Warning beyond this point there are spoilers regarding the plot and semantics of the film.

On the score of Bughuul I was disappointed.While  Baghuul is a fictional god so no actual deities were slandered in the making of this film, the term deity is terribly abused. A quick refresh deity according to webster's online is:
a : the rank or essential nature of a god : divinity
b capitalized : god 1, supreme being
2: a god or goddess <the deities of ancient Greece>
3: one exalted or revered as supremely good or powerful”

I don't see how this definitions lines up with the the local occult expert's description of Baghuul as a Sumerian pagan Deity known for consuming childern's souls. Ok, so the Deity has a dark side, a ritual sacrifice kind of vibe, not unheard of please continue Mr. Occult expert on other things Baghuul does. Oh wait, that's it, Baghuul eats kids—why is he worshiped again? You can't just call something a certain label and make it so, there has to be corresponding traits. Seems like we could have swapped the term “pagan deity” for monster, been more accurate and not opened ourselves to the scrutiny of what makes a god. 

Who erects temples and ritually sacrifices to a being that offers nothing in return? At least round out the stereo type by making Baghuul give a bountiful harvest or untold powers or sight into the future or safe passage through underworld. Heck, I'd have settled for Baghuul giving out a fruit basket just so long as there was a reason he had temples to start with. Instead I have to believe that Sumerians worshiped an immortal minotaur who can walk between dimensions through portraits that humans have to create for him.

At least the occult expert believes it's pretty impossible that anyone is worshiping Baghuul (it's kind of sad we still have to give points out when they don't blame or accuse the pagans) through these murders, he just thinks Baghuul is some kind of symbol for initiation into a group (cue the humanist pagans-they go through the ritual but Baghuul is just a metaphor).

Beyond Baghuul failing to be God like—he fails to have limited power either. In the beginning the author finds a tape with a bunch of Baghuul killings in it. He sees the image of Baghuul and also apparently exposes his kids to these images somehow ( the how part is kind of unknown as he's always watching the images alone and he's very careful not to let his family in to his office, even locking it when he's not around). The question here is where does Baghuul keep all these super 8 copies of his murders? Does he keep them in his other realm and trot them out right after the house has been cleaned and ready for sale somehow? Does he allow the children he devours to stay around in our realm until they can plant his super 8 images?  Maybe Baghuul's God like power or gift is that he can drop an image of himself and all those he devours or kills where ever he wants?

Let's say I roll with the kid taking the video, hiding, and planting Baghuul's imaged before the child is eaten. How do these images end up in the author's old house with extended cuts? For a deity that can only come from one realm to another through graven images and possession of children he'll be eating, this guy has a lot of resources to get his picture out there. Maybe Baghuul should start working for a child's talent agency? I don't like that the movie didn't stick to the own limit of power they imposed on their imaginary god.

Another thing that strikes me as odd, is why does Baghuul destroy whole families? Why not take the susceptible kid and go? For that matter why not possess the vulnerable kid, use that one to take all other child family members and leave the adults behind fumbling? Seems like killing other family child members is a waste of food a least.

We could have had a really good monster movie about a being, I refuse to call him a god, who can travel from his world to ours through an image, implant himself in a human mind and possess people. We could have had people fumbling around who didn't understand or believe the rules. We could have had children luring other children into his clutches and slowing killing off adults who were in their way.  We could have seen parents strive to find ways to save their already possessed children through some form of exorcism or calling on a more powerful god or we could have watched parents murder possessed children in an attempt to save non-effected children and perhaps had a close up where realizing that their other child had been exposed to Baghuul and will be next, they choose a grizly murder over watching their child's soul slowly being devoured and giving power to this monster.

 We could have made Baghuul more ambitious and had him desire to slowly take over this realm or have him building strength to do battle with other gods and possibly gain more powers/realms. Instead we have a God who is not really a God with limited powers like those a polytheistic pantheon may support, who becomes all powerful when it suits the writers, basically creating a stereo typed mess in a stereo typed ritual manner.

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Article copyright Swift Rabbit/ Southern Pagan Muses

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