A mother and her two sons move into a rural house that’s marked for death. When a small town deputy learns that they are the next in line to fall to the demon Bhughul, he races before time to stop it and save them.
When Sinister came out in 2012 audiences were subjected to what I believe was one of the strongest horrors of recent years. Featuring some incredibly tense and horrifying moments combined with solid performances and a deeply unsettling sound design, Sinister was a surprising, and incredibly tense, psychological horror. So it comes with great disappointment to admit that the sequel doesn’t quite meet the same standard.
Picking up after the first film, Sinister 2 follows James Ransone’s Ex-Deputy So And So whom, after giving up a life of law enforcement, has made it his life’s work to track down and stop the evil force known as Bhughul. After discovering that a single parent family now resides in the next house marked for death, the ex-deputy is forced to confront the evil once more when the youngest son uncovers a new collection of disturbing home movies that slowly begin to corrupt his innocence and claim his soul.
Sharing a similar narrative structure to the first film, Sinister 2 attempts to build on the mythology of the first film but shifts focus from the evil boogeyman Bhughul to the children that he has abducted in the past. In doing this, what was once a very disturbing psychological horror has now become a film which tries too hard to shock its audience. In doing so, it quickly unravels the hard work that comes before it which is a shame when considering the talent of those involved.
As a director, Ciaran Foy has the perfect aesthetic for this style of filmmaking. His previous film, Citadel, is a dark and unnerving film that perfectly echoes the style of Sinister so it came as no surprise that he had been picked for the job. He knows how to light a dark scene and create an ambience to inspire fear in his audience and he does a fantastic job here, but there’s something amiss. Even where the cast is concerned, James Ransone and Shannyn Sossamon share great chemistry but any credibility is lost thanks to a very silly and generic third act.
That said there are a few moments in the film which are incredibly effective, if not equally cliched. The so-called ‘kill movies’ i.e. the 16mm films contained within the film are just as nasty and the reason for this is that each film (with the exception of “Fishing Trip”) are wholly grounded in reality. There are two in particular which come to mind, Christmas Morning and Sunday Service. Both scenes surpass the intensity of Lawn Work ’86 so if you have seen Sinister you know just how nasty and shocking these can get.
Sinister 2 marks a very important step into the mainstream for Ciaran Foy whom I hope has a very bright career ahead of him as a genre director but for us horror fans, Sinister 2 is proof that the more we know the less scary something becomes. Overall the film is very hit and miss in certain areas and unsurprisingly the door is left open for a likely third instalment. But when it comes at the cost of the film’s originality and dwindling scare factor is it actually worth tarring the reputation of what was originally a fantastic horror film? I say not.
Words: Jon Dickinson (@marvelguy)