Back for another round of horror is Sinister 2, the sequel to the 2012 film that saw Ethan Hawke haunted by the evil deity Bughuul and his posse of possessed ghostly children. While the original was half murder-mystery, half supernatural-horror, Sinister 2 ditches the mystery and goes full steam ahead into supernatural territory for a somewhat bumpy ride.
Set some time after the events of the first film, Sinister 2 picks up with the now Ex-Deputy ‘So & So’ (James Ransone) hunting down similar supernatural occurrences to the one that destroyed the Oswalt family. One such family is single mother, Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon), and her two twin boys, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan), on the run from their abusive father (Lea Coco). Holding up in a rural farmhouse, with an unnerving church to go along with it, Dylan is plagued by nightmares as well as nightly visits from Bughuul’s creepy children who are preparing him to join the demon. With only the Ex-Deputy to save them, it’s just a matter of time before the next family falls victim.
The film sets out to expand the mythology of its predecessor by shining more light on Bughuul and his devious ways, although in doing so, not only simplifies the mystery but also manages to make the rules fairly confusing. Much of the film follows Dylan as he interacts with the ghost children, but it becomes almost laughably absurd that at no point is this ever something questioned by the young boy. In fact, when his brother gets in on the action too, Zach is even less concerned with the supernatural meet-ups and is just plain jealous that he was overlooked for Bughuul’s ghoulish pack.
While used sparingly in the first film to prove less is more, Bughuul is all over Sinister 2 to the point that his appearances become almost comical. He appears merely to appear, and most of the time without any real consequence, bar perhaps a bloody symbol left on a laptop screen. Because of this, the murderous home videos become the main focus of the scares, and while there are some creative kills, the film continuously comes to a halt to watch tape after tape and it’s hard to knock the feeling that some executive along the line simply gave the note to make it more like Saw.
Ransone (Oldboy) takes leading man duties here, and while proving an interesting enough side character previously, he falls slightly short in delivering as the main protagonist (the fact he continues to go unnamed should be a fairly big hint). The bumbling, nervous act doesn’t translate well here at all and, as a result, is more off-putting than anything. Sossamon (Wayward Pines) fares a little better, yet gets caught within a half-baked storyline of domestic abuse that is never anything more than a superficial stereotype. Both Sloan brothers (Bad Teacher) get out best though, especially Robert who gets to show more range than even his adult counterparts.
While Sinister 2 might quench horror fixes in the immediate, it is definitely not a contender to fill the void as the new yearly horror franchise.