That Scene From ‘Sinister’ (2012)

“Hey, have you seen this movie? What did you think about THAT SCENE?!” We have all used that phrase at one point during our discussions of movies with the other person’s eyebrows raising, “Oh yea, THAT SCENE!” You go on to pick that memorable scene apart by listing what you loved or didn’t like, how it made you feel and the impression it left on you. 

In this series, we will do just that. We will take a scene from a movie and discuss its impact on us. Some of these scenes may be frightening, weird, iconic, controversial, hilarious and everything in between. Let us know your impression of the scene and the impact it left on you the first time you watched it down below in the comments. Enjoy!

 *Warning: May Contain Spoilers*

Movie: Sinister (2012)

Scene: Lawn Work ’86


Director: Scott Derrickson

Characters: Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), Kotch Family (Various)


True-crime writer Ellison Oswalt moves into a home with his wife Tracy, their 12-year-old son Trevor, and their 7-year-old daughter Ashley. A decade earlier Ellison’s book Kentucky Blood was a best-seller but he has struggled to make an impact with subsequent works. Unbeknownst to Ellison’s family, he has moved into a home where a family was murdered, all hanged by ropes on a tree in the backyard. Ellison intends to use the case of the murdered family as the basis for his new book and hopes that his research will reveal the fate of the Stevenson family’s fifth member, a 10-year-old girl named Stephanie who disappeared following the murders. Later that night Ellison discovers in a box a screaming Trevor, who was having a night terror.

Ellison finds a box in the attic that contains a projector and several reels of Super 8 mm footage that are each labeled as home movies. Ellison discovers that the films are actually murder footage depicting different families being murdered in various ways, including hanging, drowning, throat-cutting, and arson. Each murder is performed by an unseen person holding a camera and filming the killings. Ellison notes the appearance of a mysterious semi-circular symbol in the films as well as a strange masked figure. All of the footage is pretty visceral with brutal deaths however this scene standouts as Ellison watches the next tape labeled “Lawn Work ’86”.



Okay, I’m not really a jump scare guy. I’ll take atmosphere, ominous sounds, and tension building over jump scares that most scary movies tend to lean way too much on for cheap scares. But hey, they work on the kiddies, right? However, this is one of the more well-timed jump scares that is extremely effective because of the atmosphere, ominous sounds, and tension building that we witnessed before this scene. We, along with Ellison, have watched a couple of these found footage murders with all of them just being more sickening with slow deaths. Not here. We get the great set up of someone lurking in the shadows filming this family together before we see a lawnmower running across the grass in the rain and then it happens. Someone’s face quickly comes into the camera and under the lawnmower in a brutal fashion. We don’t see blood and gore, just a split second happening that makes you jump out of your seat. This is how you do jump scares. Few and far between, catching your audience off guard. Well done, Scott. Well done.

What do you think of this scene? Did it make you jump when you first saw it?

Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.