SINISTER

The trailer makes it look like yet another of the thrill-free, roster-filling genre entries that rake in whatever they can their first weekend, then disappear forever. Happy surprise: it’s super creepy, well told and makes sense, right down to the denouement you see coming but which has to end as it does. The killings are what make this special, two in particular (one involving a tree, one a swimming pool) whose imagery is disturbing, unsettling, even days after you’ve watched. While there is a supernatural element, the evil is mostly human, if pint-sized. And the movie is helped along by a decent performance from Ethan Hawke, who may be slumming here (as did Johnny Depp in SECRET WINDOW), but takes his role seriously. The rest of the cast are mostly unknowns — who the hell is Juliet Rylance? — but jumping out of the pack with a bang-up turn is an actor named James Ransone (from the tv series “Treme”), who plays the curious, nudgy Deputy with a combination of humor and earnestness that’ll make you want to see more of him in the years to come. — Jeff Schultz

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