Sinister 2 is a weak continuation of a truly effective horror film, and demonstrates why its not always a good idea to sequelize every hit within the genre.
Picking up a few years after the 2012 film starring Ethan Hawke (who is absent save for a few minor references), the story follows Deputy So & So (James Ransone) who has left the police force to uncover more about the history behind the monstrous boogeyman Bughuul and the mysterious family-related killings. He ends up crossing paths with Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon), a mother living in an isolated farmhouse with her two young boys Dylan and Zach (Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan), attempting to flee from Courtney’s violent and abusive husband. While in the house, Dylan and Zach begin to experience contact with the spirits of deceased children, who under the tutelage of Bughuul were instructed to murder their families and record the proceedings on 16mm film cameras.
For those hoping that Sinister 2 delves into the origins of Bughuul, its sad to say that the film spends less time on his presence and more on the creepy children instead. In addition, it strays closer to generic horror film tropes like jump scares and old fashioned music in tense scenarios, against the dreadful atmosphere which permeated the original. Without this element, the film fails to be even remotely terrifying, and feels like a chore to sit through.
While its no surprise that production company Blumhouse Pictures would greenlight a sequel after the success of the original film, one has to wonder why they opted to even put this in theaters. Feeling more like a straight-to-video film or something that would play in a genre festival and skip the theatrical market, it seems as if the film was rushed into production to churn out an easy profit over making an actual good piece of cinema. Relative unknown director Ciaran Foy takes over for Scott Derrickson, and fails to add anything interesting to the proceedings. The tedious screenplay by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, the team behind the first movie, probably has more to do with that.
Shannyn Sossamon and James Ransone lead the cast of Sinister 2, trying to make due with a script that’s weak even by horror film standards.
In terms of on-screen talent, its safe to say that every actor does their best with the material given to them. James Ransone doesn’t have the leading man chops required to make his performance anything to write home about, but it is serviceable and shows growth from the one-dimensionality of his character in the first movie. Shannyn Sossamon does more of the heavy lifting, in trying to protect her children from the evils that abound, but one can’t help but wonder what happened to her career to wind up in a low-budget film like this.
In the end, Sinister 2 amounts to nothing special, and feels like another cheap, late-summer horror flick indistinguishable from countless others. The film is not even that horrifying for the most part, emitting more moments of unintentional hilarity than actual scares. Thankfully at a relatively short 97 minutes, it will be forgotten by most audiences by the time they exit the theatre to go home.