The business cycle of horror movies seems to be this: if you make a decent enough film that was relatively cheap to produce and it strikes a chord with audiences, be sure that the production studio will keep the fire burning with sequel upon sequel until all that’s left is fumes and a collective groan from film goers at the very mention of your film’s name. It happened with Saw. It happened with Paranormal Activity. It’s going to happen with Insidious. And with Sinister, it seems there was barely a fire to burn in the first place.
Largely what makes Sinister 2 such a complete failure in almost every respect is how unnecessary it is. Sinister is a great horror movie. It kept its story simple, and while there were things about the concept that if you pulled just a little bit at a loose thread, the entire thing would unravel, the film was so well made and the characters so well developed that you didn’t care much for the answers to your questions. It had a very creepy and unique music score. The images were haunting. Even Buhguul managed to be an unnerving demonic entity. All this is undone by its sequel.
Sinister 2 attempts to create an entirely new story with an entirely new family. It does bring back Deputy So and So (James Ransome) from the original film. He is now an ex-cop turned private investigator who spends his free time tracking down the houses where Bughuul last claimed victims and burning them down in hopes of breaking the chain. He’s still trying to do this when he finds that there is a family living in the last house where murders took place. This family is comprised of Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two sons Dylan (Robert Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) on the run from their abusive husband and father (Lea Coco). But being in this house means that Dylan is being visited by some child spirits who appear on behalf of Bughuul. They show Dylan videos of their murders and try to coerce him to kill the rest of his family.
Granted, the film looks a bit better than say The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, which looked so cheap it should never have been given a theatrical release. The production design and effects are pretty good, but none of the film’s look or editing rhythms can make up for a story that feels written like stream of consciousness and then thrown into production without a serious edit or second draft.
By showing the audience how Bughuul actually ensnares children, Sinister 2 exposes the implausibility of its entire scenario. It raises too many questions like what would happen if Dylan simply told the child spirits that he refuses to kill his family. It also confuses multiple rules laid out by the first film in an effort to up the ante with the plot. If Bughuul only appears to one child in the family, how can it appear to another child as a plan B in case the first child doesn’t go through with his plans? Wouldn’t that make the first child completely aware of what is going to happen?
The film raises even more questions than this. As Deputy So and So gets closer to Courtney and her children, audiences will be left to wonder when exactly Bughuul perceives that someone is now living inside the house. Also, how is Deputy So and So able to see Bughuul in photos and randomly in his own home when he never put himself in Bughuul’s abduction and murderous timeline? The film never attempts to answer these questions, leaving the audience confused and ultimately, failing to give a shit.
If this isn’t bad enough, the filmmakers have needlessly upped the ante on the graphically violent videos that were in its predecessor. This time, however, the deaths in the videos are ridiculously over the top. In the same way that the traps in the Saw movies got more elaborate in each sequel to the point where they started to raise practical questions like “where do you get material to build these traps” or “did you test them out first to make sure they work properly”, the videos in Sinister 2 are too convoluted to be disturbing or scary. Ultimately you’re left to ask the question, “wait, this was all staged and filmed by a child. Is the child given superhuman strength and an understanding of how to hook electrical wires up?”
The acting for the film is borderline adequate. Sossamon is particularly energetic in her role. Ransome fully brings back his character’s likability. The child actors do their jobs convincingly enough, albeit they all have bit of a ways to go. But what kills Sinister 2 is its execution. It’s filled with jump scares that are not in the least bit scary. It covers long passages of needless dialogue. And when it brings a new idea to the table, said idea does not make sense when viewed along with the original film. In the end the only sinister thing about this movie is that the production company will be robbing you of your hard earned money if you pay to go see it. Do yourself a favour and enjoy the original Sinister in the dark with a blanket. You can then completely pass on the sequel.