UK Release Date: 21st August 2015
Runtime: 97 minutes
Director: Ciaran Foy
Writer: Scott Derrickson, C Robert Cargill
Starring: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lea Coco
Synopsis: The first film’s police detective tries to break the links in the chain in order to prevent the horrifying Bughuul murders from continuing.
Scott Derrickson’s Sinister is one of the most intriguing horror movies of the last few years and was a box office success. As is the trend within the genre right now, even a modest hit gets a sequel and so, Sinister 2 has finally arrived. The script was penned by Derrickson and C Robert Cargill, with Citadel director Ciaran Foy behind the camera. It’s not a total failure, but it does leave the original looking rather like a beautifully creepy fluke.
In the absence of Ethan Hawke, it’s his Deputy So and So (James Ransone) that steps into the lead role, trying to break the chain of the Bughuul murders. At one of the houses, he finds Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) living with her sons Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) in an attempt to avoid her abusive husband (Lea Coco). He tries to help them survive as the persistent spectre of Bughuul continues to grow ever closer to the family.
Sinister 2 is a prime example of a studio simply refusing to understand what it was that made the first film in their series successful. Instead of adopting that film’s less is more approach and understated performances, the film has Bughuul appear every five minutes or so and shout boo at the camera whilst James Ransone tries his best to find some sort of character depth in Deputy So and So.
| "It’s the aesthetic appreciation of violence that summons him."
In fairness to Ransone, his performance is comfortably the best thing about the film. Ransone has an easy-going charm that makes him an ideal lead, but the film never credits his character with the level of intelligence Ethan Hawke got in the original film. Ransone’s entire method for destroying Bughuul seems to be to burn various things. Faring even worse is Shannyn Sossamon, who gets very little to do other than look frazzled and wait for Ransone to tell her what to do.
Thankfully, the story does pack something in the way of intrigue. The overarching threat of Sinister 2 is teased out nicely throughout the film, including with a genuinely surprising reveal at the beginning of the third act. Sadly, though, all of this intrigue is tossed away as the film enters its finale and becomes a dreary chase, punctuated by cheap jump scares, rather than something as creepily bleak as the first Sinister film. Incoming director Foy seems largely content to pluck set pieces from the standard horror box of tricks, rather than focusing on originality.
At the centre of Sinister 2 are, of course, the home videos that provided the major scares of the first film, including one of the best jump scares in recent horror history. In this sequel, the videos are largely shorn of their shock value and showcase a clear lack of ideas. They appear with rather formulaic regularity throughout the film and never feel as original or shocking as they did in the first. Even the most original of these tapes, involving death by rat, showcases a method of torture that Game of Thrones fans will be very familiar with.
| "If you tell anyone, we’ll kill you first, and then your whole family, and we’ll watch the film over and over and over."
The central problem with Sinister 2 is that it is trapped in a constant battle with its own lack of purpose. As with so many horror sequels, the impetus for its creation was entirely financial rather than artistic and, as a result, it finds itself constantly reaching for any semblance of story cohesion or character nuance in the depths of a barrel that has already been thoroughly scraped.
Pop or Poop?
In a prime example of a film that should have been left alone, Sinister 2 proceeds to completely miss the point of what made the first film such a strong horror. The performances are bland, the script hokey and the scares are almost entirely absent. Even the creepy video tapes barely have one idea to rub together.
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