Review: Sinister 2

A young mother and her twin sons move into a rural house that’s marked for death.

Oh SINISTER how I loved you. In an era of grim, dull, lifeless and stale horror you were like a beacon of hope flickering away in the distance showing us that we shouldn’t give up hope and that once in a while something will come along that will truly reaffirm your belief in the horror genre. And it did it so well, it had tension, it had a good monster, it had lots of scares and it was such a good movie I couldn’t possibly tell you how excited I was at the prospect of a follow-up movie.

This sequel has for me taking a lot of criticism and I think that is in no part due to it being a bad film, more so that it had a lot to live up to with its first incarnation. SINISTER 2 on its own is still a competent film, a sound cast, a decent story and it does still have some very effective scare scenes where more focus is placed on the demon Bughuul and the ghost children. There are echoes of other movies here and I saw similarities to CHILDREN OF THE CORN in many ways as the undead children try to lure in the two children living in the house.

I personally enjoyed this movie, not as much as the first one but then it excels many other modern releases. It has plenty of tension, the death tapes are there again although the use of them in the first movie felt better but it still does enough to scrape past the bar marked competent. It still has a few flaws, it doesn’t have as much tension as the first film, after a while the kids pissed me off but these are minor niggles. If you make something as good as SINISTER then how can you exceed it in a sequel?

One to watch, if you like the first film then see how they carry on the story, if you haven’t then give it a watch anyway and see for yourself.

When you have a breakthrough hit like Sinister, it’s hard to imagine that anything can live up to it. If you haven’t seen Sinister at this point, might I suggest you stop being a dick and go watch it now, come back and discuss with me, AT LENGTH, as to why it’s probably one of the best modern horrors around. So, now that you’ve been educated, back onto Sinister 2.
Many discussions took place before viewing, mainly focusing on how the plot would go, given that we already knew all we needed to about Bughuul, and that all the main cast were SO not going to return. Well colour me happy, the direction they went with was inspired. This time around, the story was told from the perspective of the lost children, which I dug like crazy. Rather than just vomiting out the same story again, it was clever in its approach by flipping the coin and showing you how things worked from the dark side.
Just as in the first film, the kids were great. Maybe it’s just me, but I think kids get more into a scary role than they do sugary sweet affairs. The performances were great all round, it even made me forgive Shannyn Sossamon for Catacombs….forgive, not forget! I would have liked to have seen more of Nick King playing Bughuul, because for me it’s one of the scariest characters I’ve come across, that face creeps me out so damn hard, but this was all about the kids and the deaths. With more sacrifice scenarios than ever, they hold up to the first, proving the writers know just how sick and gruesome the audience want it.
I can see Sinister running like the Saw Franchise, new ‘traps’ introduced each time, with a little something added that we missed on first viewing, and that is no bad thing if you ask me. Highly recommend this one, so entertaining and keeps the story on a high. I realise I’ve said a lot, without actually saying much about it, but I don’t want to ruin this one for you.

Following the success and acclaim that Sinister received it was unsurprising that a sequel was to follow which was to be written by Scott Derrikson who directed and co-wrote the first one so at least there would be some connection between the two.

Sinister 2 follows Deputy Soandso from the original as he tries to find the same patterns as discovered by Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) in Sinister and stop them continuing. He comes across a church where a family was slain which is supposed to be empty and so feels that burning it down will prevent the pattern continuing, however a new family has taken up temporary residence (in a side plot which becomes center stage and feels very forced) and soon realises that the demonic wheels of Bughuul have already started turning.

There were parts of Sinister that worked incredibly well (the old videos) and some which didn’t (the children) and Sinister 2 seems to have managed to take the less successful parts and build on them whilst taking the successful areas and diminishing those.

The opening of the original was a very powerful introduction into its world and created a sense of unease and dread that permeated its way through the entire film. Coupled with Ethan Hawke’s terror at what was happening and an underlying malevolence, a genuinely scary film was made. Sinister 2 manages to undo all that good work and make a run of the mill, slightly dull and very unscary film.

It’s biggest problem is it brings far more to the fore one of Sinister’s biggest problems in the fact that its main demon wasn’t actually scary. Bughuul was essentially used to shout “boo” at the audience in order to elicit a jump. He never actually did anything to anyone. And this was the same here. He was little more than a jump scare mechanism and so there was never any threat and therefore never any scare.

The story also plays more from the point of view of the children, which is where the spirits of the ones Bughuul has taken become a larger part of the film. But once again these children, who were not scary in the first, fail to elicit any sort of fear. Slightly annoying maybe but certainly not scary. They were also the mechanism to have us see the films which became really tedious to the point of me wishing they’d remove the whole films element. They also tried to explain how the child becomes a filmmaker but this felt very out of line with everything we saw in the first one and very contrived.

To try and tie it together with Sinister even more, it even tried to give us the scene with the professor a la Vincent D’Onofrio. However this provided no addition to the story, no furthering of the plot and was exceptionally pointless. D’Onofrio’s Professor Jones actually told us who Bughuul was and what he did. In this we get something trying to masquerade as background but actually doesn’t tie in anywhere.

With the pattern established in the first film you know there is no threat until a certain action is taken by the family and so it takes away that sense of danger the first film so cleverly built. And the films created in Sinister 2 in order to try and create that same sense of unease were weak and, in one case with crocodiles especially, a little over engineered.

In all, Sinister 2 is a very weak bedfellow for the far superior Sinister and is generally a weak horror film overall. One to be avoided if you ask me.

It would be understandable if you felt that following the conclusion of Sinister, the story doesn’t really have too far left to travel. The ending, both chilling and memorable, felt like a solid, comfortable full-stop. However, as is so often the case with horrors that prove to be unexpected commercial and critical hits, a sequel inevitably followed, and while it’s definitely guilty of attempting to pull franchise potential from thin air, it’s not the unmitigated disaster that other recent efforts have proven to be (we’re looking at you, ‘Woman in Black: Angel of Death’).

With very few faces reappearing to reprise their roles from the original film, the protagonist this time around is the still-nameless police officer from the original (James Ransone, delivering more solid form and contributing to his ever-widening repertoire of convincing character work). No longer with the police force, he is carrying out an investigation of his own into the cases connected by child-capturing demon Bughuul. His searching takes him to a rural farm house where single parent Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) is struggling with raising songs Dylan and Zach. Early in the film, Dylan is visited during the night by a gang of spectral children, and anyone familiar with the bloody events of the original will know what’s coming when he joins them for a movie night with a twist. As the children’s influence becomes more insidious, the deputy must find answers while there’s still time, and before Courtney and her family end up in serious danger.

While it’s a heavily flawed effort (we see far too much of Bughuul from the off, a bizarre proneness to over-lighting rids many scenes of any real sense of suspense and the film’s final third is almost derailed entirely by an utterly preposterous and overblown action sequence), Sinister 2 brings enough to the table to avoid landing completely in the realm of the all-too-many sequels that have proven to be horror shows for all the wrong reasons in recent years. It makes a decently convincing effort at tackling family drama, with Dylan and Zach’s fraught relationship with their father given reasonable airtime, and the central performances never fall below solid. The mythology is expanded to satisfying effect, and although the film never really makes a convincing case to justify its own existence, it’s still a passable, if forgettable distraction.

Sinister 2 is out on DVD & Bluray now. 




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