Back in 2012, Scott Derrickson’s Sinister hit the big screen off the back of a wave of promotion and some promising looking chills. Thus it garnered a sizable audience and became, alongside Oren Peli’s Paranormal Activity and James Wan’s Insidious, another film that was a calling card for its director and producers. We are all familiar with those trailers stating “from the makers of”. The film was a fresh horror story and, while flawed, boasted some genuinely atmospheric scares. Thanks mostly to the well-made “snuff” shorts intertwined in the film’s paranormal narrative. The film introduced us to the haunting Baghuul character - a literal bogeyman that ensnared children to do his murderous bidding. So with this sequel, cursed with bad press and that feeling of cash grab, hopes were not particularly high. However, we are pleased to say that Sinister 2 is a surprisingly effective sequel.
The action refocuses on a different family but much of the structure is the same, as troubled mother Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two sons Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) try to escape their past. However, their current hideaway home is “marked” by the insidious Bughuul (Nicholas King) and their only hope may be Ex-Deputy So & So (a returning James Ransone) who is still investigating what happened (in the last film) to the Oswalt family. Despite that synopsis suggesting a strong tie with the first film, you don’t really need to have seen it to get up to speed as the narrative is very similar. In many ways, while going overboard in many departments, this sequel is as good or perhaps slightly better structured than Derrickson’s first film and director Ciaran Foy (Citadel) delivers doses of what made the first one work.
C. Robert Cargill and Derrickson’s script does go off the rails slightly as the ghostly children step out of the darkness, but the super 8 murder movies remain chillingly effective. Plus the film does well to keep its genuinely scary Bughuul character mostly in the shadows where he should be. That being said, the film will deliver no real surprises to veteran genre fans and does draw occasionally from the boo horror jump scare playbook. Although the broadening of Bughuul’s mythos is very well delivered, and in spite of the pantomime nature of certain moments this sequel retains its lingering power thanks to its core elements of grainy killing and its mysterious lead entity - a blend of a Slipknot drummer and the grim reaper.
All in all, Sinister 2 is a fun Friday night horror film that has its fair share of strong moments and is boosted by likable leads in Sossamon and Ransone. Ransone returns broadening his character and Sossamon’s mother is stronger willed than most and a relationship is not forced between the two it just develops. Likewise, real life brothers Robert Daniel and Dartanian Sloan are effective as the onscreen youngsters and the characters are not annoying, and the direction of the two thankfully forgoes a really obvious twist you think the film may be teasing. There are no real twists, however, in this sequel, just a simple story, reasonably well told, and while it will not rank as an Evil Dead 2 or 2 belting sequel, it is an enjoyable follow-up and restrains from the usual tedium that plague most horror sequels. Critics have been a bit unfair to what is a well-acted and fun late night horror flick!
SINISTER 2 / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: CIARAN FOY/ SCREENPLAY: C. ROBERT CARGILL, SCOTT DERRICKSON / STARRING: JAMES RANSONE, SHANNYN SOSSAMON, ROBERT DANIEL SLOAN, DARTANIAN SLOAN / RELEASE DATE: DECEMBER 28TH