Horror movie sequels are generally dreadful. They’re a lot like Foo Fighters records: good or bad, the core audience will eat it up, so why kill yourself making a good one? Make a cheap movie quick, throw it out there and move on. Done.
Thankfully, Sinister 2’s screenwriters did not take this attitude.
Sinister 2 continues where the first one left off. This time Bughuul is targeting Courtney Collins and her twin boys, Zach and Dylan, who are on the run from Clint Collins, Courtney’s abusive husband and Zach and Dylan’s father. To give Clint the slip, they hole up in an abandoned farmhouse by a church. This house and church are another site where a Bughuul related murder took place, and soon enough, Bughuul’s kids are trying to bring Zach into the fold. Meanwhile, the deputy from the first movie is going around torching Bughuul’s haunts, trying to prevent the events from the first movie from ever happening again.
Screenwriters Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill took an interesting approach with this entry. The first film was about the conflict between work and family. Here, Sinister 2 focuses on the kids, and the effects violence has on them.
Horror movies have always been moralistic. The most famous example of this concept are the Friday the 13th movies punishing the teens for having sex and taking drugs (and, after the fifth movie, for buying a ticket and watching the films). Here, Sinister 2’s is warning parents to monitor the media their children are consuming. An interesting idea in a horror movie.
However, message and theme will only get you so far in a horror movie. The point of a horror movie is to scare the audience, and Sinister 2 does a decent job of that. There are a lot of jump scares, quite a few which are telegraphed (everything gets real quiet, etc), but director Ciaran Foy does a good job maintaining the creepy atmosphere. One scene in a motel is particularly effective, and the new home movies in this entry are good and violent (though the crocodile one was fairly ridiculous). Bughuul was used more effectively this time around. In the first Sinister, he doesn’t show up too much, but in this one he’s popping up all over the place.
But Sinister 2’s main flaw is the 97 minute running time. That kind of lean running time gives short shrift to certain characters and plot elements, which weakens the movie.
For instance, I wanted to see more of Ex Deputy So-and-So’s quest and investigation. As a character, he interested me a great deal, and seeing more of his activities away from the family would have given more depth to his character. The character works fairly well now, but showing him finding one of Bughuul’s houses and burning it down gives the audience a better sense of character and it eliminates the need for an exposition scene at the beginning. Also, giving the dude a real name would also enhance the character, but I digress…
Also, Clint needed a little more screen time. The character comes across more like a plot device than an actual person. Clint doesn’t need a lot more, but I felt giving him one or two scenes more would make his character’s resolution a little more satisfying than as it stands in the final film.
However, Sinister 2’s most egregious flaw is its underwhelming climax. There’s an intense chase scene featuring all the principals (in which Christopher Young’s awesome theme from the first movie makes a welcome reappearance), with ghost children are running around doing creepy things, and everything’s working pretty great. Then – boom. The movie sort of ends. I though the climax would benefit with a little more time devoted to it, if nothing else to ratchet up the suspense at the end. As it stands, Sinister 2 is already shorter than the first movie (97 minutes vs 110) so I think there was room to expand a bit. Normally, I think shorter is better (it forces the filmmakers to focus on what they’re trying to say), but sometimes things get a little too short.
Without venturing into serious spoiler territory, I can’t give any more details than that, but the jarring ending is a decent sized black mark on a story that works well up until that point. The weak climax is not enough to bring down what preceded it, but it’s a big enough flaw to lower the movie’s overall quality.
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