From the producer of the fading Paranormal Activity franchise comes a horror movie that is plainly frightening in a way that so few today are. Much of its stomach-twisting anxiety comes from its soundtrack, which elicits creeping, gnawing dread. Ethan Hawke is Ellison, a whiskey-swigging crime writer who's pinned his dimming star on a new book about the mysterious murder of a family whose youngest child has vanished. He moves his own family into the scene of the crime to begin his research, where he soon discovers in the attic a box of old, innocuously labeled home-movie film reels, the content of which reveals a series of families each meeting nasty ends due to apparently supernatural causes. Where the movie could easily rely on rote horror devices, director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose) instead inserts well-placed twists and genuine terror and humor. Sinister isn't perfect, but it easily tops most of its scare-starved competition.