Review: Sinister 2
PLOT: A woman and her twin boys living in a house where a horrible murder was committed discover that the Bughuul may be coming for them.
REVIEW: When Ciarán Foy’s name came up as the one who would be bringing us the sequel to SINISTER, I was excited at the prospect. The director has a way with creepy kids and frightened adults. His feature film CITADEL was a disturbing little film with fantastic performances and a scary premise. And while SINISTER 2 has a couple of those things as well, it unfortunately suffers from what many horror sequels do - we’ve been there and done that. Once again, a family is haunted by Jack White… I mean the Bughuul (Nicholas King) - the more we see of this demonic entity I expect to hear something off The White Stripes “Icky Thump” album. And in all fairness, I half enjoyed this sequel for a number of reasons, yet in the end there are too many issues that fail to help this stand apart from the original.
When we first met Deputy So & So (James Ransone), he was attempting to help true crime writer Elison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke) in the original film. And if you’ve watched SINISTER, you know what happens. After the horrific events that took hold of the Oswalts, the one time deputy has devoted much of his life to trying to stop whatever evil presence is murdering families and taking the one child. When he discovers a woman named Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon), who along with her twin boys Dylan and Zach (Robert Daniel Sloan and Darwinian Sloan), is secretly living in a house near where a graphic murder once took place. He finds that she is trying to hide away from her evil abusive husband, Clint (Lea Coco) who will stop at nothing to get his family back. Soon, Deputy So & So and Courtney begin a serious friendship, all the while he is investigating a horrifically gruesome murder that took place at the church that Courtney is trying to renovate.
James Ransone is a charming guy. He added a nice touch of humor in the first film, and frankly I enjoyed him as the quirky leading man this time around. He was the anchor for me here. The relationship he shares with Courtney is a nice touch, and I was certainly rooting for him. And while I didn’t mind Shannyn and the kids - although was her accent really necessary? - there was something a little too heavy handed about the abusive relationship that she is trying to get away from. Lea Coco plays a jerk really well, but the fact that he is such a monster made a much too obvious human villain. We didn’t need it. The entire story with just Deputy and Courtney, along with her kids, was far more interesting. Sure it helped move the story forward, but that is unfortunately what it felt like, a forced plot point to keep things moving until the final sequence.
In SINISTER, much of the mystery was already revealed. So in the sequel, the screenwriters - Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill - went with a different approach. We see the atrocities of the freaky home movies through the eyes of the children. This approach occasionally worked, yet it also lessened the scare factor. It also didn’t help that the Bughuul was more than just a shadow in the trees, or a face in the pool, he was a regular presence. This is not to say that there are no genuine chills here, in fact, a couple of sequences are pretty disturbing. The problem is they reveal far too much about the macabre “home movies” and why they keep showing up, and why the children are involved.
Speaking of the “home movies,” there are certainly a couple of horrific images in this sequel. The most disturbing one involves an old church and rats. And once again, the old movies tend to create the most unnerving sequences in the entire film. Every time the sound of the projector began, there was a sense of impending doom. And even if the audience for the movies has changed they are still quite disturbing - it was however more effective when Elison Oswalt was watching in horror and disgust. As creepy as they can be, one of the sequences involving a swamp is a bit farfetched. Supernatural or not, it would have been pretty damn tough to pull off.
SINISTER 2 is not a bad film. James Ransone is terrific as an unlikely hero, and I appreciated that aspect of the film. The new chapter features a few scary sequences, especially if you don’t like rats. Yet the focus on the children and the subplot about an abusive husband don’t fully work. It was far more frightening the first time when you really had no idea what the outcome would be. And when that last act finally hits, it lacks the emotional punch that the original had. Perhaps Ciarán Foy wasn’t able to truly live up to the first, but he did create a somber atmosphere that fans of the original will probably enjoy, but it isn’t nearly as SINISTER this time around.
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