The horror sequel Sinister 2 loses sight of much of why the original film was so creepy and disturbing
Scott Dericksons 2012 horror film Sinister was a distinctively creepy film, based around the disturbing idea of an entire family being killed by one of their children after being possessed by a demon. Part of what made the movie so original was that it began with a scratchy film of a family dangling from a tree, which was such a disturbing image it set you up for a film that took even the most diehard horror fan outside their comfort zone.
Mind you, it makes sense for the filmmakers to want to capitalize on the success of the movie and try to extrapolate and expand on some of the ideas, but the idea to make James Ransones dopey deputy from the first movie the tie between them proves to be only part of Sinister 2 s undoing.
Ransones character was fun in moderation when he was the deputy that showed up at Ethan Hawkes door wanting to help with his crime novel, but giving him a whole movie is as bad an idea as it seems.
Essentially, that deputy is now a private investigator trying to put a stop to Bughuuls wave of terror that kills entire families in gruesome ways, often capturing such events on film. He tracks the demon down to a house neighboring a church where a woman named Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) has gone into hiding with her twin sons (Dartanian and Robert Daniel Sloan), the victims of an abusive, estranged father. Zach is boisterous and brave, always competing with his shy and reserved twin, Dylan, who is an easier target for Bughuul, as ghosts of the children hes possessed in previous kills show up in the middle of the night to show Dylan their kill films which eventually will get him over to their side. At the same time, Courtney’s estranged husband, who physically abused both her and Dylan, keeps showing up at the house causing more problems for the family.
Original director Scott Derickson has moved on, leaving things in the seemingly capable hands of Ciaran Foy (Citadel), but he just isnt given a lot to work from as Sinister 2 tries to get more into the rules of Bughuul. (I never liked the demons name in the first movie maybe because it sounds as stupid as the demon Pazuzu from The Exorcist movies, which contributed to make Exorcist II: The Heretic one of the worst horror sequels ever made.)
This leads to a lot of the deputy walking through dark, scary places being freaked out, and that leads to a number of suitably creepy moments and a couple of decent scares, but its mostly sub-par haunted house stuff and nothing new.
Sinister 2s biggest hurdle is that it relies almost entirely on kids, whether its the twins or the ghost kids around them, but none of them are particularly good actors, and its not like Shannyn Sossamon is going to win an Oscar for her weak performance that comes off like Patricia Arquettes character in Boyhood if played by a really bad actor. And Im not even going to get into how wrong it is to use domestic abuse as a plot device in a movie meant for entertainment, because its a serious subject that should carry more weight than the way its used here. (And a major groan to the decision to create a romantic link between the deputy and Courtney, which also seems out of place and unnecessary.)
The kill films seem to have gotten overly complex as well, to the point where its hard to watch them and believe youre watching real home movies, because theyre using fairly elaborate shots and edits than might ever be in real home movies. See, thats what was so great about the original movie because it made you really believe you might be watching real home snuff films, which is such a disturbing concept on so many levels. While some of the ideas for the kill films are fun, they just dont work because the FX are so cheesy from the fake crocodiles to the fake rats, not to mention the laughably bad acting from those getting killed.
These films end up taking away from the veracity and credibility of the horror rather than adding to it, especially the decision to have an old-fashioned movie camera just randomly appear for these kids to use to make the kill films. Granted, its nice that a horror movie is trying to get away from the current wave of trying to use modern technology in horror (ala Unfriended) but at the same time, losing any sort of much-needed credibility really hurts Sinister 2.
This includes the absolutely bat-sh*t crazy last act that tries to add action to the mix with the deputy running around trying to prevent the family from being killed in the way we saw in one of Dylans dreams. Once that situation is resolved, the movie ends with one of those terrible jump scares that’s completely unnecessary. Ugh.
The Bottom Line:
Sinister 2 is a classic case of sophomore slump, where a clever well-developed idea is diluted by trying to expand on it in order to build a franchise. Knowing more about Bubhuul just makes the whole thing seem more ridiculous and that also makes Sinister 2 another crappy-ass sequel to a decent horror flick.
Sinister 2 Review Rating:
4 out of 10
Sinister 2 Cast:
James Ransone as Deputy So & So
Directed by Ciaran Foy