Is it really too difficult for someone to release a decent horror movie this year? I mean, it’s not like there isn’t money to be made or talented writers/directors/actors capable of putting a great horror film together. I’m asking because Sinister 2, while promoted to be the next big horror movie of the year, falls flat on almost all accounts. Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t The Vatican Tapes level of bad, but Sinister 2 seemed to certainly be eyeing that top spot. See, it’s not that Sinister 2 is just a formulaic, check off all the boxes horror movie; but that this second installment completely fails to understand what made the first one so memorable.
———————Warning Spoilers Below!————————-
The original Sinister was a movie that relied less on the cheap conventions we had come to expect from horror movies. The principle monster only really shows up in full form for the last three minutes, there are maybe four jump scares total, and holy f*ck it doesn’t have anything to do with the devil. It also meshed genres nicely with one half acting as a gritty serial killer film, the other adding a far more supernatural side. Now, I usually hate when movies try to mesh different genres due to the fact that they are almost never successful. Sinister dodged this crippling bullet and became to be one of the best mainstream horror films in the past few years. Sinister 2 however, is not at all like the original, both in design and execution.
This time around we follow, and I swear to God this is the actual character’s name, Ex-Deputy So-and-So (James Ransone) trying to save a family that the demon Bughuul has targeted. First off, the nickname given to our dear Deputy made sense in the context of the first film. He wasn’t a principle character and learning his name was not needed for the sake of the story; yet Deputy So-and-So is not a side character this time around. Nope, he is our lead and for whatever reason director Ciaran Foy decided to not give him a name. Horror more than any other genre relies on the audience connecting with the characters and voiding him a name makes that incredibly hard to do so. How am I suppose to relate to this character if he isn’t even given a real name? Not to mention Ransone cannot hold this leading role to save his life as his emotions range from slightly dumbfounded to incredibly dumfounded. There isn’t an ounce of fear conveyed by him or really any emotion. Instead, Deputy So-and So looks like someone told him a difficult riddle and he still hasn’t been able to figure it out yet.
Okay, normally I would get over the lack of an emotional attachment to the main character if the supporting cast could carry his dead weight. Which brings me to the next issue of Sinister 2, the supporting cast is also laughably bad. Our three family members consist of mother Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon), her two sons Dylan Collins (Robert Daniel Sloan), Zach Collins (Dartanian Sloan), and their abusive father Clint Collins (Lea Coco.) While the cast is attempting to bring some sort of life into Sinister 2 it becomes quickly apparent that the script is the biggest issue with this movie. Starting off with the two boys, their relationship to Bughuul is just plain weird and awkward. Apparently one of the two was the “chosen one” and the other is actually jealous of this fact. No, you didn’t hear me wrong; one of the main characters in this movie is upset that the evil, demonic monster did not haunt him. Why is he jealous of his brother? Perhaps there is a hidden message under there about the relationship boys usually have with each other or how twins compete for some sense of dominance. Nope, the idea is just there so we can have our obligatory “good” kid and “bad” kid for the third act. Apparently there is an opening for The Omen and being part of Mr. Boogey’s entourage looks good on a resume. And don’t even get me started on Lea Coco trying to portray ‘The most angry, abusive, hateful, belligerent, man to ever be put in a horror movie.’
It’s not even that Sinister 2 has bad dialogue, it does, but the film seems bent on completely contradicting the events of the first movie. In this film we learn that Bughuul sends his other undead children to try and lure his victim of choice away from the family. This is what sets Bughuul’s evil deeds in motion, requiring the victim to watch all the snuff films (Which we will get back to) in order to complete the ritual so he can sacrifice his family. Yet in the first Sinister this doesn’t happen at all and it’s Ethan Hawkes discovery of the films that releases Bughuul. The children do not attempt to lure his little girl out and if that box was never discovered the first movie wouldn’t have happened. Bughuul is also way more prominent in Sinister 2, going for a more is better approach. Bughuul is not that scary looking on his own and it was the way he was hid, distorted, and used scarcely that made him creepy. Instead Sinister 2 just decides to show him every chance he gets, letting him show up within the first minute of the film.
Now, lets talk about those snuff films shall we? Listen, the reason the original movie’s snuff films were so unsettling is because they were plausible. Running someone over with a lawnmower, setting a car on fire, slashing a throat; these are all things I can believe a child would be able to do. What I cannot buy is the almost Saw level of ingenuity put into some of these new snuff movies. How do you expect me to believe a 12 year old was able to hang his entire family upside down over a lake of alligators? Going bigger does not make it better, in fact they are just laughably bad. Did not a single person question whether a child could actually pull off some of these kills at all? It also doesn’t help that the undead kids in question are doing there best Children of the Corn impersonations.
What saves this movie is the actual production side of things. The editing and sound design are top notch, giving the film a nice pace. Camera work is decent, even with a few questionable choices at times. And the 8mm camera work is genuinely creepy, even if the movies on said film are completely ridiculous. In the end it’s not enough to save Sinister 2 from falling into horror-sequel-itis. I’m genuinely disappointed with how awful this movie is and can only hope this is the last of the Sinister movies we get. Now if only Bughuul could have possessed the movie screen and stopped this horrifying disaster of a film.
A recent graduate of Arcadia University, Collin MacGregor is a freelance video editor and writer. He covers video games, television, and film for The Nerd Stash. Collin currently is the head film/television reviewer for the site.