Family Horror, Media Saturation, and the Phenomenon of True Crime in Derrickson’s Sinister

  • Kimberly Jackson


Like the films analyzed in chapter 2, it is the father of Scott Derrickson’s 2012 film Sinister who exposes his family to demonic forces, and again, the haunting is linked to the father’s dissatisfaction with his life. In this case, the father, Ellison Oswalt, is a true-crime writer down on his luck who is obsessed with obtaining fame and fortune. When he finds a box of Super 8 films depicting the murders of five families, he is determined to solve the crime and write a best-seller. Like many recent horror films depicting our ambivalence toward communications technology (like The Ring [Verbinski, 2002], Feardotcom [Malone, 2002], Pulse [Sonzero, 2006], and One Missed Call [Valette, 2008]),1 the images Ellison watches are haunted, and by watching them he inadvertently exposes his family to a viral imagistic plague. As in The Ring and Feardotcom, the technologically produced images are imbued with a vengeful demonic force that has the power to cross over into the real world, marking cultural anxieties about the ubiquity of media technology and its influence on us. In both The Ring and Sinister, the technological demon seems to have originated in an already antiquated form of image technology: the VHS tape and the Super 8 film.


Serial Killer Ghostly Image House Painting Violent Spectacle Abduct Child 
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© Kimberly Jackson 2016

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  • Kimberly Jackson

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