Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sinister 2 (2015)

Director: Ciaran Foy
Notable Cast: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lea Coco

It’s been three years since the release of the extremely well executed and atmospheric Sinister in theaters and the Blum House horror machine rolls on with the sequel, Sinister 2. While the initial trailers seemed spooky enough, the missing component of director Scott Derrickson was going to be a huge hurdle for this film to overcome, but I felt confident that as long as the film kept the right combination of atmosphere and mystery to the mix that this film could succeed. Unfortunately, atmosphere and mystery are the two things that Sinister 2 does NOT carry over from the original. In their place are a generic film filled with awkward plot progressions and uninteresting characters that, in its defense, tries to add in some decent pieces, but ultimately fails at damn near every turn. One more potential franchise down the quality toilet.

Deputy So-and-So (Ransone) is now an ex-deputy after the events of the first film, but that hasn’t stopped him from trying to piece together the mystery of his friend’s death at the hands of the deity Bughuul. This leads him to a new house where a young mother (Sossamon) is hiding with her two boys (the Sloans) from her abusive husband (Coco). Now it’s up to him to put together how Bughuul works and save the family before one of the boys becomes a slave to the ‘child eater’ and kills them all.

Even the kid is yawning...
If there is one word that can be used to describe Sinister 2, it would be ‘awkward.’ You’re going to read that word again and again throughout this review because, quite simply, this film is a perfect example of it. Oddly enough, there are some intriguing things and focuses used in Sinister 2 that might have crafted a decent sequel and horror film. I love the idea that the audience gets to experience the psychological spiral of what happens to a child once they are chosen by Bughuul and the film even hints at the fact that there are multiple threads of these deaths that happen all around the world and it’s not just the single thread that was being followed in the first film. These ideas are sound and, in many ways, could have produced a decent flick.

Sinister 2, however, is not that film. The first film thrived on the atmospheric visuals and audio to deliver its scares and sense of dread. Neither of those things are strong enough in this film to carry it. It tries to replicate many of the elements that worked like ghostly children, the sequence of home movies within the movie, and the looming presence of Bughuul (whom thankfully has not become a slasher killer…yet), but none of it works. The pacing is awkward as the two stories mesh together in forced ways with an odd romantic thread that just sits so wrong and the heavy handed and over the top approach to the child custody battle makes little or no sense. The abusive husband is a hilariously over the top asshole and it just seals the deal. It doesn’t help that our protagonists are not all that interesting, despite some fun performances from them. Ransone stole a few scenes in the first film in what should have been a plot progression role, but his character cannot hold an entire film. He seems to spout exposition awkwardly and his chemistry onscreen with the others doesn’t work like it needs to. All in all, the film’s plot and core just don’t flow.

So what if the plot is forceful and awkward, we still have plenty of scares, right? Wrong. Sinister 2 tries to recreate a lot of what worked in the first film (like everything else), but without the foundations of the mystery and characters that connect with the audience it stumbles at every turn. Bughuul remains more of a presence in the film, but his few moments of screen time feel like yawn inducing rehash and the expansion of the ghost children tends to feel at odds with what we were presented with in the first film - I was under the impression that they were terrified of him, not his little scare slaves. Even the ‘home movies,’ which progressively made the first one so frightening and culminated in one of the most delightfully well executed jump scares in the last twenty years, are horrendously jammed into this film and result in a lot of unintentional laughter. In particular, there is one that involves alligators that had the theatrical audience laughing as a whole. Not something you want to hear in a horror movie meant to scare.

Sinister 2 is simply an awkward film experience that tries to tread new ground while remaining true to the elements that worked the first time around. The execution is not there. It’s awkward to sit through, some of it doesn’t make sense, and the scares are non-existent. There is a lot of potential in this franchise, but Sinister 2 has no idea how to handle it.

Written By Matt Reifschneider

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