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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.14%
Worth A Look: 14.29%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 21.43%

1 review, 8 user ratings

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Sinister 2
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by Jay Seaver

"A step down from a surprisingly good original, but still not bad."
3 stars

I wonder if, when building horror movies like "Sinister", the writers ever stop and think that a premise would be easy to reuse, so that if a film is even a modest success, sequels could be made without being tied to the original cast and a steady stream of royalty income will come their way even if whatever they do after moving on tanks and they can't get hired. That may not necessarily be what led to "Sinister 2", but it might have been - same basic idea, new family to prey upon. It's not quite so exciting as a result, but there are things to recommend it.

The new family is named Collins, with mother Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) and sons Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zachary (Dartanian Sloan) trying to keep a low profile as her abusive ex-husband Clint (Lea Coco) is doing all he can to reclaim custody of the boys. That's why she's staying in a vacant farmhouse which nobody wants any part of due to the ritualistic murder that happened in the church that's also on the property. The latest private detective to show up (James Ransone) wasn't hired by Clint, though - he was the deputy who helped Ellison Oswalt with his research in the previous film, and he's been driven to investigate that sort of killing ever since that case left him shaken. Courtney and her kids being in the house throws a monkey wrench into his plans, and he doesn't even know about the ghost children that Dylan has been seeing.

Those ghosts are the ones introducing Dylan to a cache of home movies that end in grisly family annihilations, and there's a sense that returning writers Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill recognize that this is a bit old-hat the second time around, with the home movies getting name-checked asbeing a thing associated with evil entity Bughuul by a scientist (Tate Ellington) who bristles at being called "the new Jonas", referencing the previous movie's expert on the paranormal. It's not close to full-on winking at the camera, but between it and a bit where "Deputy So-and-So" seeks advice from a priest, there's an odd sort of taking the supernatural premise for granted.

Despite that, Derrickson & Cargill do have an interesting way to come at the material in a new direction; where the first film was about a writer's obsession potentially leading him and his family to doom, this one starts with tis characters already having shadows cast over them, with both Courtney and her new friend already haunted by monsters they must fight despite the unavoidable feeling that the adversary is far too big for them. In a way, that makes it very different from the first film: Where that was a story of self-destruction, Sinister 2 spends a lot more time with the characters who are looking to face their fears - although in doing so, the adults sometimes miss just how frightened (and thus vulnerable) the kids are.

That often means that new director CiarĂ¡n Foy can't bring the sense of suffocating dread that made his film Citadel so memorable to those who have seen it. He certainly squeezes what he can out of a few scares, especially when they are immediate rather than presented as something captured on film some time ago (though those scenes feature some impressively twisted bits that he works well). He also does an impressive job of balancing the two types of horror in the film: The supernatural elements are eerie and dangerous, but they are fed by the real-world elements; Foy makes sure he never trivializes the actual emotions an abusive husband and father creates, but doesn't make Bughuul seem silly in comparison. He's aided greatly by Robert & Dartanian Sloan here; the real-life brothers playing the Collins kids have an impressive rawness to them, really capturing just how primal the emotions that kids in this situation must deal with.

As good as the kids are, it's probably James Ransone that will wind up most memorable in this movie - as much as the filmmakers may be having a little bit of fun by not giving his character a name after promoting him from bit part to lead, they and Ransone give him a distinct personality: In over his head and a bit slow on the uptake at times, quite up front about being terrified by the situation he's in but approaching things with more brains and common sense than one might expect, he comes off as an everyman in a genre where his character would usually be hardened and/or gruff or some sort of chosen one. He'd normally be the most doomed guy in the movie because killing a guy this nice is the most awful thing the monster can do, and putting him at the center both gives us a chance to really like him and keeps things unpredictable. This earnest fellow is someone Shannyn Sossamon's character doesn't quite know how to deal with - her distrust of the men around her is well-earned, and she does a nice job of giving Courtney a sort of strength that is at its limits every day.

There's probably an decent movie to be made about these characters that doesn't involve the bogeyman at all, although it might not be inherently better than "Sinister 2" - watching them try to deal with conventional and supernatural situations gives the film a solid core, but they are a bit too far removed from the threat of Bughuul, and the demon doesn't have enough new material to make it really pop as a horror film. It's hard to scare peole the same way twice, even with a new set of potential victims that the audience genuinely likes.

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originally posted: 08/31/15 11:06:21
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User Comments

9/09/17 morris campbell YES ITS BAD THE FIRST IS ALOT BETTER 1 stars
2/13/17 morris campbell awful very disapointing 1 stars
11/19/16 Mark Louis Baumgart I liked it, too bad the bad guy didn't suffer more. 4 stars
1/17/16 Alexis H I was dissapointed somewhat. The plot was decent but the horror was somewhat lackluster 3 stars
12/06/15 Langano Another sequel that fails to measure up. 3 stars
10/14/15 BRIDGET FLYNN Better than the first one, for me 5 stars
10/05/15 Kara Kudro Love good horror, this wasn't it 1 stars
10/05/15 Alex S welp. This movie scared the crap out of me but I agree that the first is better. 4 stars
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