By Bob Garver
“Sinister 2” is a dreadful movie, as was the 2012 original. The premise is that a demon called Bughuul gets very young children to murder their families and then turns them into ghosts to haunt new families. The killings are preserved in old movies which are watched throughout the films, thus providing them with much of their requisite violent content, until the end when the new family is in danger.
This time the family is one torn apart by domestic violence. Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) is fleeing with her sons Zach (Dartanian Sloan) and Dylan (Robert David Sloan) from her abusive ex-husband Clint (Lea Coco). They hide out in abandoned parsonage next to a church where a certain set of murders were carried out many years ago. They’re found by a Bughuul-chasing ex-deputy with no name (James Ransome), who doesn’t know exactly what to do since Bughuul makes it a point never to commit any murders until the family moves away from the actual haunted house. But he needs to do something because the army of ghost children are showing their movies to Tyler, trying to turn him into the next murderer. Zach, by the way, isn’t happy about this. He hates that his brother is being chosen for anything, even something horrible, over him.
For what it’s worth, I do like the rule where the families have to move out of the haunted house before they get slaughtered. So often in these haunted house movies, the audience spends half the running time yelling “Get out of the house, idiots!” This otherwise uncreative franchise is at least one step ahead of that logic.
I’ll pay the movie another compliment, and it’s one where a lot of people (especially critics, from what I’ve read) will disagree with me. I think Bughuul himself looks absolutely terrifying. Most people focus on the fact that he has a fleshy patch where his mouth should be, and I do agree that it looks silly. But it’s his eyes, or rather his triangular eye holes minus the eyes, that are the stuff of nightmares. This is a good thing because Bughuul is otherwise a pretty ineffective villain. I think it’s only been once in the whole franchise he’s made physical contact with anyone, he mostly just exists to pop into the frame and scare the daylights out of the audience. He gets children to do all the killing and his army of ghost children to convince them to do the killing (probably a smart move actually, as the children are more likely to listen to fellow children than his freaky, no-mouthed self).
But it’s with the killings where we run into trouble. I hate that these movies have to rely on exploitative violence to get attention. These scenes always have to involve some unnecessarily complicated methods (that it seems the child murderers wouldn’t be physically able to put together) so the movie can take pride in their variety. And the thing is that they’re not even that gruesome. They’re gruesome concepts, sure, but they never seem to play as quite as disgusting as the filmmakers want. As a matter of fact, I wonder if the filmmakers threw some forced profanity into the script so this movie could get an R rating because they couldn’t get it with violence.
There’s only one way a movie like “Sinister 2” is any fun and that’s if you can see it with a big crowd full of skittish people who are going to jump out of their seats every time something pops up onscreen. This movie opened at #3 at the weekend box office and is going to fall fast, so you have maybe one more week to take advantage. But really, this is an unpleasant movie that will put you in a bad mood and has nothing to offer but some cheap jump scares.
One and a Half Stars out of Five.
“Sinister 2” is rated R for strong violence, bloody and disturbing images, and language. Its running time is 97 minutes.