by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Halloween Reviews: Silent, Paranormal, Sinister

SILENT HILL

Boasting surreal , even abstract, styled cinematic imagery, “Silent Hill Revolution” has supernatural ritualistic auras that befits a tag of dialogue retorts “go to Hell” with  “you’re already here.”  Or, the nearest venue thereto, which appears to be a dusty, abandoned main street purportedly off a West Virginia road.

The retail street leads to a creepy turn of the century asylum, where driven to psychosis is the curriculum. Prior to insanity, a carousel, stuffed bunny, goldfish, and carnival all sliver out a few moments of creeps.

Heather, an  innocent blonde teen ( played by Adelaide Clemens) becomes the latest strong  heroine  to bash demonic evils , rather than run like Heaven to potential bliss. She’s trying to rescue her dad from cult members that lure her  to sacrificial peril.

Warding off a potential new school BF blaring, “No one knows what’s going on in my head,”  Clemens conquers the battering demon basher and virginal mix, no issues. Ultimately, “Revolution” in the hands of writer/director Michael Bassett impressively jolts the eye through his take on a witch’s coven at an ancient asylum. However, his script fails to precipitate terror,  suspense , or screams as  viewers are  at least partially lost in the mist of which alternate reality the characters have entered.

PARANORMAL 4

Having reached the fourth installment in this found footage franchise, will you be afraid of bumps in the day or night recorded on a shaky camera?  Impressively, the multiple camera set up comes from computer screen in every room surveillance footage, which catches the prowling ghosts and goblins .

However, the found footage standard slow building story arc cripples this entry. The insertion of stock “Exorcist” iconic scenes both hit and miss i.e. they happen , there’s no foundation so no crescendo. By the time the save most shocks for last arrives, viewer patience has been strained.

Logical gaps persist. Think clothing change after a dinner out. It's imperative to be correct.

SINISTER

Do be afraid of the dark. Leave a light on when you lay down to sleep. Pray that it’s not raining. Alone in a new, dark house? Hire a bodyguard.

A true-crime writer  moves his family into a house where the previous inhabitants (minus one) hung by their necks from a huge oak tree in their backyard. How’d they end up so prime you’d think an executioner stood nearby? Don’t ask. Let the mergers of ritualistic beliefs and the presumed innocence of a curly sandy haired girl carve a place in your nightmares.

Grabbing an unsettling premise --- serial deaths of mom, dad, and the kids (less one) --- Ethan Hawke plays an obsessed, near alcoholic writer who unsuspectingly puts his family into a conduit between Hell and the Devil’s own fireplace.  Writer / director Scott (“Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “Day the Earth Stood Still”) executes a found footage gem that has patrons eyes affixed to the screen even as they walk forward to hit the restroom or concession stand.

Wrestling the supernatural has not been so frightening since “The Exorcist” and the subliminal shivers of “Suspiria” (1977), where the netherworld seemed as near as a bristle of wind forming a muted chill on a bare back.

Derrickson relies on solid  multi-level story telling which tightens the unknown with husband and wife shout outs (Hawke/Juliet Rylance) and sleep-walking night terrors by his son , Travor (Michael Hall D’Addario) and grimacing paintings by daughter,  Ashley (Clare Foley). While the family gradually comes unhinged, Hawke’s character can’t cut his eyes from color imbalanced 8mm “waste ‘em” frames containing benign titles like swimming or playing. As the murderous footage flickers, a pair of hiding eyes seems to oversee each of the deaths. Before long, the projector acquires an unearthly “on” switch; the movies themselves appear to cast a spell.

“Amityville Horror” or any haunted house tale contain “Sinister” roots, but this incubus of fright melds so many misty, unsettling nuances that whatever the anticipated there’s minute or marvelous twists and turns that should effortlessly evoke shrieks and shouts.

Special effects take a supporting role (which in most cases they should) as the ripples of clandestine meld to   slithery   portals from where demonic spooks  creep.  

No one can proclaim a not been done before, but “Sinister” weaves so many unnerving elements that it radiates as a chilling isotope, which will likely spawn a franchise and feeble imitations. “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” represent the more compelling crossovers of the last few years, however, “Sinister” partakes of 40s icons (“The Uninvited,” “Spiral Staircase”)  and 70s classics (“Legend of Hell House,” “Burnt Offerings”), too.