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.