Trailer Tuesday: Sinister and The Possession

We're doubling up the demon-delivered scares today with trailers for 2 upcoming horror flicks, the haunted house tale Sinister and exorcism thriller The Possession.

Now I loves me a good skin-crawler but these days I very rarely watch horror movies at the cinema given the dire quality of most of these genre releases - which are often sloppy and formulaic. I've come to prefer watching horror films at home. Perhaps it's because you're kind of letting evil into the safety of your personal  space, but even the shittiest supernatural horror flick has extra emotional oomph when you watch it alone late at night on the couch, with the lights off...

Anyway, upcoming releases Sinister and The Possession both seem to suffer from the standard problem of over-revelation in their trailers. Although both films feature contorting possessed children, powerful demonic foes and desperate parents, The Possession seems to be the more overblown of the two - despite apparently being based on a true story.

Produced by horror cinema icon Sam (The Evil Dead) Raimi, The Possession sees Jeffrey Dean Morgan (playing a good guy for once) and ex-wife Kyra Sedgwick resorting to drastic measures when their sweet young daughter (Madison Davenport) undergoes a drastic personality change and strange things start happening around her. Science and modern medicine can't explain the weirdness and the family soon comes to believe that their daughter is possessed by a Dybbuk - a body-stealing demon from Jewish folklore. Eschewing the Catholic rituals you so often see in movies, The Possession instead depicts a Jewish exorcism.

It'll be interesting to see how potent The Possession is, given its PG-13 age restriction. Hopefully it will still be appropriately unnerving. You'd think exorcism films would be easy to get right but Hollywood stuffs it up almost every single time... most recently with this particularly awful case of "bait and switch". For the record, the last good possession film was probably the ambiguous and reality-grounded The Exorcism of Emily Rose.

This is interesting because the writer-director of Emily Rose, Scott Derrickson, is the man behind the camera for R-rated Sinister. Produced by part of the team responsible for the well-received and highly atmospheric haunted house/possession tales Paranormal Activity and Insidious, Sinister centres on a family that moves into a home that was once the site of several murders. That horrifying fact is probably part of the appeal for the family's breadwinner, crime writer Ethan Hawke, except his pursuit of the story leads him to believe that malicious pagan deity Bagul - who lusts for children's souls - is behind the slayings, entering our world through photographs and home movie footage. Vincent D'Onofrio also stars.

Sinister sounds like it's in the vein of The Amityville Horror. Now although that high profile remake was a disappointing missed opportunity, I enjoy a good haunted house thriller even more so than an intense demonic possession flick. So I remain ever hopeful of being genuinely terrified one day by one of these movies. As it turns out Sinister screened at this year's SXSW festival in Texas, where it received a very healthy response from the audience. I wouldn't trust the film's current 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but with reviewers flinging around words like "effective," "sophisticated" and "inventive", I think this one may be worth seeking out.

Sinister opens in the US on 5 October 2012, and The Possession on 31 August. In both cases, the films' South African release dates have yet to be set.


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