Sinister was a pleasant surprise for me back in 2012. With a worldwide box office gross of 77 million, there was no doubt that a sequel would be greenlit, so here we are with Sinister 2. While the original was directed masterfully by Scott Derrickson, he has now taken a writing-only backseat, and directorial duties have been passed on to Irishman Ciaran Foy. I had high hopes due to Foy’s previous horror film Citadel and the marketing campaign that promised we would finally learn the origins of franchise boogie man Bughuul. But were my high hopes in vain?
Some spoilers follow, but really, who cares.
Sinister 2 opens strong, and I had hoped that would set the tone for the rest of the film. We are then introduced to all-American mother Courtney Collins, played by one of my favorite 2000s actresses, Shannyn Sossamon (who’s had a renaissance lately thanks to her hit TV show Wayward Pines). Courtney is on the run from her abusive ex-husband while trying to raise her two sons, Dylan and Zack — played by real-life brothers Robert Daniel and Dartanian Sloan. With the demise of Ethan Hawke’s family in the first film, this installment focuses on Dylan and Zack’s interaction with Bughuul and his past victims. This is where the film first starts to tank, as their constant flat line delivery took me out of the film.
One of the series’ staples is grainy 8mm home video snuff films, but this sequel somehow falters in this area. While the first set of videos were truly disturbing, these kills are laughable at best: a B-side Crocodile Dundee stunt gone wrong, a lovely Christmas slumber party, and a scene featuring a rat straight out of 2 Fast 2 Furious. Only one of the home videos seems to capture the original’s magic, and we only get a glimpse of it in the background of another dull scene involving the brothers.
The only bright spot in this unnecessary sequel is returning character Deputy WhoCares, now ex-Deputy WhoCares, played again by James Ransome. Being one of the only survivors of the first film, he has now dedicated his life to tracking Bughuul’s movements, hoping to burn down the locations in an attempt to put an end to his terror. While great in small doses, Ransome’s interactions with Sossaman come off flat due to the poorly written lines; he reminds me of a nervous Christian Bale, but not in a good way like in The Fighter. Sossaman also has a wavering Southern accent that reminds me of Nic Cage in Con Air. I wonder why the director even had her bother with it.
But my biggest disappointment was when Bughuul’s so-called origins were finally revealed — in a throwaway conversation about a radio broadcast from the Netherlands. Then a really telegraphed cheap scare happens involving a radio. At this point in the film, I was angry and projected it onto Bughuul’s next appearance. Suddenly he was no longer an otherworldly demon, but more like South Park’s interpretation of the king of pop, Michael Jackson. Bughuul’s obviously had some work done, has long black hair, seduces young kids, and takes them away to his demon ranch. How did the writers not see these parallels?
In the film’s final act (which couldn’t have come soon enough), the ex-husband finds Sossaman and takes her and the kids back to his abusive home. In a twist ending, Bughuul convinces the older brother to carry out his plan and film his own 8mm video, but his plan is foiled by ex-Deputy WhoCares. A familiar song from the first film is queued up, and the older brother chases what’s left of the family through a corn field.
In the end, the older brother fails to kill his family and is taken away by Bughuul, forced to join the other dead kids. Oops, almost forgot to mention the subplot that involved ghost kids tricking the younger brother with home videos they made for Bughuul. I get that dead kids are supposed to be frightening, but I dreaded their every appearance for the wrong reasons. But back to the ending: ex-Deputy WhoCares has to grab one last thing from the most poorly lit motel room I’ve ever seen. And guess what? Bughuul is waiting for him. Credits roll! So does my head!
Is this the worst horror film I’ve seen all year? Nope, that honor goes to pig mask home invasion film Tormented, which for some reason is currently scoring higher than Sinister 2 on IMDB. Sinister 2 is competently made, but dull, boring, and unnecessary, from the kills to the character interactions. If you’re in the mood for a great horror film involving kids, I’d recommend the previously mentioned Citadel or Devil’s Knot, written by Scott Derrickson.
Until next time, Horror Timers. Please make sure your kids can act, don’t own an 8mm camera, or have midnight conversations with the spirit of South Park’s Michael Jackson.