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I loved Scott Derrickson’s SINISTER; to me it was a new modern horror classic (sure upon further viewings I caught flaws here and there, like nobody ever turning on the lights, but whatever)! So it was with anticipation that I awaited this sequel. Both Scott Derrickson and Robert Cargill are back as the writers and the only big change creative wise is that Derrickson stepped down as the director and Ciaran Foy (CITADEL) took over at the helm of the ship. Now I went in with low expectations after hearing mucho negative word of mouth from people who had seen it before me and came out... well... yeah... disappointed.
I’ve always perceived SINISTER as a one-off i.e. I really couldn’t see how you could make an excellent sequel to it. I mean you either rehash what happened in the first film or you explore some of its aspects further hence nixing out the mystery which for me was one of the main reasons the original worked so well. Now I’ll applaud this follow-up for attempting to do its own thing as opposed to being a carbon copy of the original – but different doesn’t always mean better and this was one of them cases. More on that later on! For now let me focus on the positive. Director Ciaran Foy and DP Amy Vincent offered up a macabre visual feast with creative shots and oppressive mood galore. Sure there wasn’t much suspense here, or scares that went beyond the “boo - pop goes the Bagul” variety but that had more to do with the material than the creative eyes behind the lens.
The cast appealed to me as well; Shannyn Sossamon was likeable as the caring mother and she looked fantastic! Girl doesn’t age! Incredible. James Ransone (the deputy from the first film) did fine as the lead and brought some levity to the proceedings via his young Steve Carrell like vibe while brothers Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan were pretty damn solid as the twin brothers with polar opposite personality types, Add to that a decent pace, tomandandy‘s unsettling score hitting hard, some good ideas (like the radio signal thing or the use of vinyl records) and at least ONE memorable kill (rats) and you get an “okay” watch. Problem is, I wanted more than “okay” from this one. So what was my boggle then? Well for starters by not wanting to simply be a rehash, the film attempted to expand its mythology and it did that by exploring one of the least interesting elements (to me that is) found in the original Sinister. One, that if taken too far would come off as corny; yes I speak of the evil ghost kids.
They weren’t scary, or creepy here, they were just a tacky plot device that simply didn’t work for me. Sometimes less is more and in this case more of these kids was way too much. Needless to say that exploring the videos from the ghost kids POV also removed the mystery around them therefore clipping out the fear factor in the process. The 16 MM kills (yes we’ve upgraded, the kills were shot in 8mm in the first film Mr. Boogie likes to keep up with the times...more or less...lol) went from flat (seeing people freeze to death = who cares) to so far they were almost comical (the Crocs...lol). The only one that did anything for me was the one involving “rats” other than that yawn. And was I alone in finding some of the narrative progression to be a tad choppy at times? How we transitionned from middle act to last act for example came off as clumsy. Finally, this was the kind of flick that had me ask myself questions. Shit like: “He knows Bughuul is at work here, why won’t he warn the family?” – “Why doesn’t somebody just punch that kid in the face and call it a chase scene mother*cking done?” or “How is a kid able to do “this and that” to grown adults? Does he have the strength of ten men, like Hercules?” You get the picture...
All in all the first word out of my yapper as the ends credits rolled on this one was “meh”. Bagul aka Buhguul aka Mr. Boogie aka The Eater of Children (shit this dude has more names than Apollo Creed) deserves better than this!