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The True Villain In Sinister Isn't Who You Think

Prior to its 2012 release, little was known of "Sinister," save that it was being helmed by Scott Derrickson — a rising star in the horror genre — and that it starred Ethan Hawke. Upon release, the film not only scared up solid critical reviews (it holds a respectable 63% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and some seriously impressive box office returns (over $82 million worldwide, via Box Office Mojo), but a devoted following from genre lovers who know a spooky treat when they see it. These days "Sinister" is regarded by many as a modern horror classic and was once even been dubbed the scariest movie of all time by the scientific community, according to Slash Film. "Sinister" more than lives up to its name, with Derrickson and company delivering a relentlessly bleak supernatural slow-burner that could give even hardened horror enthusiasts nightmares.

At the center of this harrowing tale is struggling true-crime writer Ellison Oswalt (Hawke), who moves his family into a known murder house in hopes of finding inspiration for his new book. Unfortunately, what he finds in the house is a series of ominous clues that posit an evil Pagan deity, known as Bughuul, as the culprit behind the killings. As much as Bughuul is a legit poster-child for horror movie villains, the real big bad in "Sinister" is arguably far more human.

Ethan Hawke's misguided writer is the real bad guy in Sinister

In fact, it's easy enough to point a finger at Ethan Hawke's overly ambitious novelist Ellison Oswalt as the true villain of "Sinister." It was he, after all, who knowingly moved his wife (Juliet Rylance) and two children into a house where an entire family was brutally murdered, save for one child whose fate remains unknown.

In and of itself, that act hardly screams "villain!" But Oswalt begins to earn his villainous stripes soon after the family settles into the cursed home — right about the time he discovers a box of Super 8 movies in his attic that turn out to be snuff films depicting the murders on not only the family who once lived in the house, but several others. Now, a rational father might've taken this as a cue to pack the family up and get out of dodge. Ellison doesn't do that. And when things continue to get creepier at the old homestead, including some weird behavior from his own daughter, he still chooses to stick it out.

Eventually, Ellison wises up and moves the family back to their old home. But by then it's too late as Bughuul's, ahem, sinister plans have already taken root with the family's gruesome fate irrevocably sealed. And even if Ellison couldn't have known what was in store for his loved ones upon moving them into the house, his tragically misguided, ambition-fueled decision is ultimately what doomed them all.