Navigation Bar - Text Links at Bottom of Page

SINISTER

A Haunted House
Sinister was shot in just 23 days, almost entirely in a ranch-style home on Long Island that served as both location and production headquarters for the film. "We shoot almost all of our movies in Los Angeles, but we decided to go with New York for this one," says Blum. "We have a very specific system we use that we brought to New York. We generally have very few trailers and very few trucks. We try and find a house where there's room for all of us to be there together. In this case, we shot the entire movie upstairs and the downstairs was makeup, hair, production offices and actors' holding areas."

The close proximity encourages communication, he says. "I find that when you have the people who are making the movie all in the same place, the work is better. You're forced to spend time together and I find that it makes the work we're doing more resonant, just because people are talking to each other more."

Derrickson instructed production designer David Brisbin not to look for a typical, two-story colonial for the Oswalds' new home. "The one thing I didn't want was the same East Coast-looking house that we've seen in everything from The Changeling to Amityville to The Haunting," he says. "They all have the same big menacing two-story house look. I wanted a long, flat, ranch house. I knew I was going to be doing a lot of shots of Ethan moving through the house and I wanted it to have a realistic flow."

All of the scenes set in the home were filmed there, except the attic scenes, which were on a set. "Even the backyard scenes were at that same location," says Derrickson. "You have more control when you're on a set, but I think limitations are your friend if you embrace them. We used fluid shots moving through the house, tracking characters and conversations for long takes that became part of the aesthetic of the movie. Not only did it add a lot to the look of the film, but it allowed us to do scenes in one take. When you give actors one long take like that, they get an energy and a dynamism going that you tend to lose when a scene is cut up."

Director of photography Chris Norr and Derrickson devised a strategy to trick the viewer's eye into seeing more than is actually on screen. "We shot with short lenses, wide lenses and made so much of the space black," Derrickson explains. "When you have wide images and lots of darkness in the frame, it takes on an infinite quality. The result is an aesthetic that doesn't feel small or cramped. You don't feel like you're in small rooms because you're looking at actors and you don't feel the edges of the room."

For the Super 8 footage of the murders, the director and the cinematographer took some time to experiment and developed a different aesthetic for each one. "I began to get very excited about the cinematic possibilities of Super 8," says Derrickson. "I tried to tailor each of them to be cinematically unique and stand in real visual contrast to the contained HD look of the rest of the film. We used different stocks for each of the films. We did a lot of testing with different stocks at a lot of different exposure levels. We would try five or six stocks in each location and use different exposure levels for each stock going from very bright to very dark so that we could see the same image tested 20 to 25 different ways."

He describes the short films as feeling "reckless." "But at the same time, they're very deliberately made," he adds. "These are films people made about the murders they're committing. There's something so inherently weird and scary about that."

Sinister uses very few visual effects to create its dark and atmospheric tension. "At Blumhouse, we generally eschew visual effects," says the producer. "It's one of the things that I think differentiates our movies from other, lower-budget genre movies. I think it makes the movies more effective because what you're seeing is real.

The effects are quite limited compared to the last several films Derrickson worked on, which is fine with him. "I think good horror is difficult to achieve when it's effects-driven, because what makes something scary is what you're able to create in the mind of the viewer," he explains. "If you can get the viewers to see things through their own imagination, that has a much greater impact than spending money on CGI. This particular story just didn't call for it."

Blumhouse's bare-bones system worked well for this story, according to the director. To work this way, he says, a director has to have the right kind of narrative, limited locations and a meticulous method of working. "I knew exactly the shots I needed and what I didn't. We didn't have any reshoots. We got everything in the 23 days that we shot. It worked really well for me."

In the end, says Derrickson, it's what's on the screen that matters. "Anybody who pays to go see a horror film, they're paying to be scared. That's number one with no close second. That said, I think we made an aesthetically interesting movie with some depth and meaning to the moral tale of Ellison Oswald's life."

TOP

Home | Theaters | Video | TV

Your Comments and Suggestions are Always Welcome.
Contact CinemaReview.com

2014 37,  All Rights Reserved.

Google

Find:  HELP!

Google