Ciarán Foy takes over the reins of the Sinister franchise with the follow-up to Scott Derrickson’s surprisingly enjoyable Boogeyman-inspired 2012 chiller. After Ethan Hawke and his Oswalt clan met their untimely demise in the finale of the original, the only earthly returnee for this not-so-scary sequel is James Ransone’s unnamed former Sheriff’s Deputy.
The former Deputy-turned-private-investigator-turned-amateur-ghost-hunter, haunted by the memories of what happened to the Oswalt’s, shifts his paranormal search to a remote house occupied unexpectedly by a fleeing mother, Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon), and her two boys, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan).
The PI has been tracking several murder cases – all involving a missing child and a dead family – and believes that the house – where a gruesome family murder took place some years before – is connected to the Bughuul (Boogeyman) legend. With a blossoming romance and a pissed off, abusive father looking for custody to contend with, he must try to keep Courtney and her boys safe before the thing-that-goes-bump-in-the-night strikes again.
Derrickson’s twist on the home video haunting used spooky clichés and genre stereotypes to its advantage; Sinister 2 – continuing the home video styley – feels lazy and, often, depressingly heavy-handed. Some of the family videos on show are legitimately disturbing (rats eating body parts and crocodiles ripping heads off), though the atmosphere feels more like a bunch of demonic youngsters having a second-rate movie night than anything authentically chilling.
The infamous Boguul – an antagonist with some real scaring-chops – is sidelined for a bunch of kids who look like they’ve just walked out of a casting call for a The Omen remake. Foy’s focus on the children – both dead and alive – rather than the legendary mythical character which powers them is a ballsy choice. The manipulation of the children – pitting the two brother’s against one another whilst exploiting their faults and weaknesses – is an interesting concept, yet the whole ‘I see dead people’ routine feels too much like Hayley Joel Osment x 2.
The story tries to add context to the myth of the boogeyman; yet the who, what, where and when of it all is something Foy tries, yet fails, to convincingly answer – as the film falls into the not-so-difficult trap of horror tick-boxing, cheese-tastic dialogue (“It’s OK Mom, it’s not real – it’s OK when it’s not real.”) and downright stupidity (radio waves, seriously!?!).
Despite its problems – and there’s aplenty – it’s hard to hate Sinister 2 . The occasional cheap thrill and predictable outcome aside, underneath its rather flimsy exterior there are ideas floating around that keep you, just about, hanging on in there.