Why must every successful horror film develop into a franchise? Scott Derrickson’s Sinister was a highly unsettling horror film and one that certainly did not need a sequel. It was a story about a man chasing after his past success and, ultimately, paying the price for getting too close to the story. We didn’t need another entry to further elaborate on the mythology of the original, but this is the 21st century and whenever something is successful, we need to make more money off of it. One would hope that even if Sinister 2 is unnecessary, it would at least manage to come close to matching the quality of the original. Unfortunately, this film is a total stinker; it’s uninteresting, not scary and goofily over-the-top. Fans of the original should stay away or prepare to be disappointed.

Following the events of the first film, Deputy So & So (James Ransone) has now become a private detective, whose sole mission is to stop Bughuul from destroying any more families. His search leads him to a farmhouse that is being occupied by a mother named Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon), who is fleeing from her abusive husband with her two young sons (Robert Daniel Sloan & Dartanian Sloan). Deputy So & So begins to develop feelings for Courtney, all the while he’s trying to figure out a way to save them from Bughuul. But a group of dead children begin showing horrific films to one of her sons and it’s clear that they won’t be safe for long.

What made the original Sinister so scary were the disturbingly real home videos and the creeping dread that accompanies viewing something that you’re not supposed to be seeing. Yes, the second half of the original film indulged in some horror clichés, but they weren’t able to shake the truly unsettling tone that was established by Derrickson in the film’s first hour. Derrickson didn’t come back to direct the second installment in the franchise (a wise choice on his part), but he did write and produce it. The director this time around is Ciarán Foy and he’s unable to even come close to achieving the horror that Derrickson captured. Instead, we get a film that seemingly takes all the worst parts of the original and stretches them out to what feels like an excruciatingly long 97 minutes.

The reason that the home videos were so frightening in the original was mostly due to their simplicity. It felt like you were watching things that could actually happen and that realism only made them more unsettling. Here, that realism is completely gone; every single home movie in this sequel is way too over-the-top and some of them are borderline comical. My personal favorite has to be the one where a family is hung upside down over a swamp and picked off one-by-one by a very hungry alligator. It’s so completely ridiculous and they don’t even make it graphic enough to be disturbing in that regard. The rest of the home movies aren’t quite as over-the-top as this one, but even the best home movie in this film isn’t half as good as the worst home movie in the original.

But even ignoring the home movie aspect of the film, there’s hardly an ounce of tension to be found anywhere. Heck, the film can’t even get a reaction when it attempts a loud jump scare. There’s way too much Bughuul here, removing a lot of the mystery that made the first so creepy and the filmmakers also put way too much of a focus on the children. The inclusion of the creepy kids was probably my least favorite aspect of the original and Sinister 2 has that element on display from beginning to end. Every single kid gives an absolutely awful performance, but that’s not much of a surprise because most of the adults aren’t much better. If there’s a single bright spot in the film it comes from James Ransone’s performance as Deputy So & So. He’s legitimately really good here, effectively turning his character from mere comic relief to a hero we care about and root for. Without his character’s heart to tie everything together, this film could have been an even bigger disaster.

A lot of the directing and writing feels so broad and awkward, particularly in the storyline involving Courtney’s abusive husband. The film also feels very safe and it’s clear from the beginning that this just doesn’t have quite the same edge that made the original so compelling to watch. Sinister 2 is definitely one of the worst films I’ve seen in 2015. It’s pretty terrible from beginning to end, but it was the last shot in the film that really stirred up a feeling of hatred inside me. Luckily for the filmmakers, this still isn’t the worst horror film to come out this year and this leads me to the highest compliment I can give the film: it’s still better than The Gallows.

Sinister 2 receives 1/4

Advertisements