Sinister 2 – 2015

Director Cirian Foy
Starring James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lea Coco, Tate Ellington, Nicholas King
Screenplay C. Robert Cargill, Scott Derrickson

The eternal question about sequels to horror movies that are moderate hits: How does one progress the story without taking any of the elements too far or, by contrast, repeating oneself? There are very few horror series that have actually improved the mythology with the direct sequel. In fact, only three come to mind: Bride of FrankensteinParanormal Activity 2 and The Devil’s Rejects. We don’t include The Silence of the Lambs because it was not intended as a sequel and Aliens, because it is really as much Sci-Fi as anything. Dawn of the Dead, you say? Sorry, it still doesn’t work for me. Zombies really didn’t kick off until 28 Days Later and Zack Snyder’s own version of the movie.

Sinister 2 is a good example of succeeding in one aspect and utterly failing at another. The thing it has going for it is Ransone’s Deputy So and So. As a relatively minor, yet still important character in the first film, Deputy has now quit from the police force and dedicated his life to understanding (and eradicating) the menace that has wreaked havoc in the events of the first film and beyond. He knows each family that has been dispatched has one child missing.The deaths always happen at the house the family moves to after this fiend (we have to call him Bughuul, but we don’t have to like it) has started his work. So, he goes from home to abandoned home, burning them down if they are uninhabited. Unlucky for he and the Collins family that he gets there after estranged mother (Sossamon) and her twin sons Zach and Dylan (Sloans Dartanian and Robert Daniel) have taken refuge. The person they are running from is abusive husband and father Clint (Coco). Since Bughuul needs victims, we can see this one very clearly from the onset. Question is, will Ransone’s wild card be able to prevent mother and children from being the others.

Deputy So and So was one of the best characters in the original film. That they brought him to the fore in the sequel still rates as a pleasant surprise. The expanded role does the film credit and it does change the pace from the original. Other aspects of the story don’t fare as well. The seduction of the child this time around feels like an after thought. After the big reveal in the original story, it is apparent the writers did not have anything left in the tank when it comes to the process. The trudging downstairs every night to watch family snuff films does not work in the slightest. It seems like they sensed this, however. So they, intentionally or not, lift the storyline from Bill Paxton’s Frailty and plop it right in the middle of the process. It seems that the makers believed they could get away with all of it if they just tried differently inventive death scenes. It doesn’t work that way.

So we go back to So and So. His chemistry with Sossamon works well enough to make us want to see them both succeed. The interplay between the brothers seems a tad forced for real siblings, but seeing how their personalities diverge works better. Robert Daniel’s performance is good for someone feeling the pull but resisting.

The real failure of the film this time is in the presentation of it’s primary force for bad, Bughuul. While the first film teases the viewer with sparing “did we or didn’t we” views of the boogeyman. It’s key to the story that the force stay in the periphery. This time around, Bughuul is closer to the character of Aunt Edna, from National Lampoon’s Vacation. We don’t want to see it, but cannot avoid doing so. Thereby, he loses is lustre and is now someone who just occupies space until we can dump him off somewhere down the road. Again, it feels like Derrickson and Cargill don’t know where to go with it, so they just push him out a little farther.

This movie will be forgotten, and it kind of deserves that fate. I wish, for Ransone’s sake, the story elements had been more carefully considered. They really had something here. Now they just have a guy in a mask that won’t go away, even though he’s easier to ignore.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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