August 21, 2015 (U.S. Theatrical)
Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill
James Ransone as Ex Deputy So and So
Shannynm Sosamon as Courtney Collins
Robert Daniel Sloan as Dylan Collins
Dartanian Sloan as Zach Collins
Lea Coco as Clint Collins
Nicholas King as Bughuul
Let’s talk again about the kills in Sinister 2. Does anybody remember the urban legend about trapping a rat in a metal bowl on top of somebody and then putting hot coals on the top of the bowl to “motivate” the rat to dig a new passage out? Just wondering. The electrocution scene is pretty bad too. I can still picture the mom writhing around. Yuck.
Sinister 2 opens as Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sosamon), with her sons Zach and Dylan in tow (Dartanian Sloan and Robert Daniel Sloan), is going through a typical grocery shopping trip that includes the boys sneaking cereal into the basket and fighting over who shot who first in their water gun fight. But there is this guy… weird looking guy (Michael B. Woods) who seems to be following her and even tries to sneak a quick snapshot with his iPhone as he walks by her. With that, Courtney asks her boys if they remember what to do if she says rutabaga, to which they reply “run!” And run they do, into their car and speeding off home.
Clearly, based on the fact that Mom has a pre-defined escape plan, she’s on the run from something, or at least has some kind of secret. We find out that the secret is that her violent ex-husband is working feverishly to find her and remove the boys from her possession. To hide from the prying eyes of private investigators and such Courtney has taken up in an old house attached to a church, assured by her real-estate agent friend that nobody ever goes there. Why? There was a murder of an entire family in that house, or more accurately the church itself, and the killer was never caught; Only the dead bodies of mother, father and children… except for one. One missing child.
Meanwhile the deputy from the first Sinister (James Ransone) has become obsessed with the murders after losing his friend in the grisly murders of that original installment, and he is drawn to the house with the church attached so he can burn it down and stop the cycle of murders attached to houses where a murder has taken place that was motivated by the evil demon Bughuul. We learn about Bughuul in the first Sinister, and he still has that pesky habit of causing his photograph to suddenly animate and mug for the camera. The rest is as would be expected – the deputy and Courtney meet, and try to figure out exactly what’s happening before her lovely family becomes the next home movie.
So here’s the thing… Sinister was great. Fantastic. Awesome. There are several reasons for that, including solid performances and good stage presence by the performers, Ethan Hawke in particular, as well as a very creepy story, way too graphic kill scenes, and the concept of making the child the killer, at least indirectly. All of those were good elements. But the BEST element of this film, at least for me personally, is that I purposely avoided articles, trailers, and other bits of information that might give the film away, so that I could see if going in cold would make it scarier.Sinister is the perfect movie to do this with, because ultimately it’s so shocking. In lies the rub withSinister 2. Now I know. Everybody knows. What’s the surprise going to be, what do we have to figure out? After watching Sinister 2 I can sum that up in one word: nothing. We learn new things bout this particular story, and a bit of what happens behind the scenes, but that’s all handed out. There’s nothing to figure out. No intrigue.
Before going ballistic on the parts of the movie that were “less than ideal”, here’s the primary strength: With the first film relying so much on the newness of the concept and the mystery of figuring out the legend before the current family dies, where does one go for a follow up? All that stuff has already been settled. Where Sinister 2 goes is toward letting the audience see what happens with the children who become the family killers, what they go through and what ultimately convinces them to complete the most evil of deeds. It also explains what happens to them when they disappear. All in all, that worked as the right direction to go for a follow up, so good job. The music as well as jump-scare sounds were really great too, thanks to composer “tomandandy”. Amy Vincent did a phenomenal job with cinematography as well. And those death scenes – torturous. So scary, the kind of images that can fuel nightmares for months to come. Some were quite uncomfortable to watch, to say the least.
All of those film components are great, but are they pulled together in a way that makes for a powerful film, or at least one that is really, really scary? Sometimes. There are moments that are nice and scary, and have a bit of suspense, but other times there was cheese-o-rama. If you’re watching this one and find yourself wondering what’s the cheesiest moment, wait until the very end. Total cheeseball. The chemistry between James Ransone’s Deputy and Shannyn Sosamon’s Courtney wasn’t firing on all cylinders either, unfortunately, and since the chemistry between the performers on the stage can make a stinky script passable or a brilliant script crap, the film suffers a bit from this lack of zing.
Let’s talk again about the kills. Does anybody remember the urban legend about trapping a rat in a metal bowl on top of somebody and then putting hot coals on the top of the bowl to “motivate” the rat to dig a new passage out? Just wondering. The electrocution scene is pretty bad too. I can still picture the mom writhing around. Yuck.
All in all Sinister 2 is not a terrible film, not a great film. It’s not a horrible follow-up to its predecessor, but it certainly didn’t come close to equaling or even potentially surpassing it. And maybe I didn’t quite realize it when watching the first Sinister, but Ethan Hawke hugely elevated that film with his performance, and the director pulled a lot of good angst out of him to keep things going. We didn’t get any of that in Sinister 2. This movie is an average addition to the horror world, and as so many before it have done it will fade away into obscurity before you can sayInsidious 4.