Now Streaming in Austin: Sinister
Robert Cargill's creepy collaboration with Ethan Hawke hits Netflix
By Richard Whittaker,
4:00PM, Sun. May 3, 2020
Welcome to Now Streaming in Austin, highlighting locally made titles to watch while self-quarantining.
So, if you're still stuck home, and tempted to check through those boxes the last owners left in the attic, for the love of all that's holy, think again, and watch Sinister instead.
Yes, the perils of curiosity are writ large in the 2012 horror. It's also a film with two Austin success stories.
Sinister was the movie that took San-Antonio-to-Austin transplant and film critic Robert C. Cargill from writing about films to writing films. You can read a lot more about that progression in our 2018 interview, but the gist is that he and director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) were among the first filmmakers to have their script greenlit by Blumhouse after the tiny indie label had a global smash with Paranormal Activity. The shingle was looking for low-cost but hard-hitting horror, and the bloody and suspenseful tale of a true-crime author who accidentally attracts the attention of a demon with a penchant for murdering whole families was perfect fodder for their plans to take over the horror scene.
The story was based on a nightmare Cargill had after watching seminal Japanese scare-fest The Ring, about a possessed video tape. He explained, "[I] made the mistake of staying up very late working the night before … I was so exhausted I decided to take a nap. You don't sleep after a movie like The Ring, but I did go to sleep and ended up having a nightmare about going up into an attic … and finding a box of movies there. And the first movie I pull out is the movie from the opening sequence of Sinister."
But Cargill (who went on with Derrickson to conjure up Doctor Strange for Marvel) wasn't the only local talent who helped scare the crap out of audiences. Enter genuine, born-and-bred Austinite Ethan Hawke as Ellison Oswald, the writer who stares far too long into the abyss. (Surprisingly, this was the actor's first ever horror role and also his first collaboration with Blumhouse, but not the last for either, coming back to launch The Purge franchise in 2013.)
With those local connections, it's no surprise that the horror was one of the most memorable SXSW Midnighter titles ever. This week the scare-filled package of peril has arrived on Netflix, giving you no excuses not to catch some all-time great horror kills.