Published on August 31st, 2015 | by Brando Quiring0
The first Sinister movie was a horror sleeper that jumped out of the dark at us. Sinister 2 opens things up, but to its detriment.
Sinister 2 is the sequel to a 2012 Ethan Hawke picture (Sinister, duh) and while it is a serviceable flick on its own merits, it does a lot wrong that prevents it from being as good as its predecessor.
The atmosphere and cinematography that made the first movie such an effective little sleeper are back. The movie is dark and has a great feeling of dread, the ghosts and demon are all very well done, and the performances are all pretty top notch. James Ransone returns as the un-named deputy as he follows the investigation that was started by Ethan Hawke’s character in the first movie, following a trail of family annihilations in an effort to stop a child eating demon. He puts out a great performance from beginning to end. His awkward and introverted mannerisms work perfectly and really allow him to help build suspense just by being on the screen at the same time as the spirits and other scary things.
The plot of the film is a straight forward one, with the ex-deputy following the trail of bodies left by Buhguul and trying to break the chain and stop the murders. It is well presented and easy to follow, if you are familiar with the first movie. People who see this film without prior knowledge of part one will most likely be completely lost as the story continues forward as if there weren’t 3 years in between this film and the one made previously.
Shannyn Sossamon is the standard love interest for the now former Deputy So-and-So. She also puts out a stellar effort as a mother who is being followed by an abusive husband and has two young boys who are being lured into the shadows by an ancient Babylonian god.
Dartanian and Robert Sloan play the two sons of Sossamon’s Courtney. The boys are being haunted by some of the demon’s young victims (and are being shown the ‘snuff films’ that helped make the first film so haunting) in an effort to get one of them to perpetrate another grisly murder for the amusement of Bughuul, The Eater of Children.
The demon’s interaction with the children is something the film does right, but also feeds in to one of the biggest problems with the film: the mystery is gone. In the first Sinister the little girl chops up her family with an axe, seemingly out of nowhere, and it was a great ending for any horror movie. In this film, it seems like the filmmakers are doing a theoretical study on the nature of sadism and media violence. The two boys are being shown gruesome films in an effort to turn them into gleeful mass murderers, and it seems to work. If you do not buy into the theories on the impact of media violence, the children becoming killers seems to come out of nowhere and there is no other explanation given.
The snuff films themselves have also been ratcheted up to a level that could be called parody. They have gone from throat slittings and drownings to people being suspended above a swamp and being eaten by alligators. Knowing that these murders are all being committed by preteen children, the engineering logistics are enough to break the suspension of disbelief.
They also fall in to a trap many successful horror films step into, dropping hints that clearly state a sequel is in the future, leaving loose ends and showing there are multiple Bughuul murder chains going all over the world. There is even a character who has gone missing with no explanation, and in taking so much time setting up the franchise they have opened the scope of possibility, but taken away some of the claustrophobia that made the first one so thrilling to watch.
This opening of scope is the biggest thing that drags this film down, by focusing more on children who kill their parents on a farm, in a corn field, while they are hung on crosses, we not only lose the overall feeling and spirit of the first one, but it also starts to feel like a knockoff of Children of The Corn. Whether this was some kind of homage or just lazy writing, it takes an original idea and breaks it over the rocks in an effort to create the next, great horror franchise.
Sinister 2 is not a bad movie; it has great tension, terrific performances all around, and it’s very well made. But it falls short when compared to its predecessor, and since an intimate knowledge of said predecessor is necessary for understanding the plot, the comparison is one that must be made. It makes it very hard for this film to stand on its own merit.
If I were to rank my experience watching this film between, ‘a day on the farm,’ and, ‘having a rat burrow through my stomach and out my armpit,’ I would give it a solid ‘burning of an abusive stepdad on the cross.’ Which is to say it’s something that is great if you are already a fan; but for casual observers it might not make a whole lot of sense.