Sinister 2 (2015)
★ / ★★★★
“Sinister 2,” written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, is a toothless horror-thriller, near comatose in tone and atmosphere, and the visuals are so uninspired, I was reminded of cripplingly bad horror movies from the early 2000s where filmmakers are still trying to figure out how and when to use CGI. The picture is clearly lacking in inspiration, merely cashing in from the success of its predecessor.
Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) is in hiding with her twin boys, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan), because her abusive husband wishes to take away her children. However, what she believes is a place of safety turns out to be a house next to a church where a gruesome murder-suicide had occurred. Unbeknownst to Courtney, Dylan has to ability to see not only ghosts of children but also a supernatural creature named Bughuul (Nicholas King), known as the Eater of Children.
A major driving force in the plot is the extremely violent movies recorded by children who murdered their families. Supposedly, these movies have the power to inspire whoever watches them into making their own horrific film, preferably surpassing the violence they had seen. The problem is, none of these clips are particularly scary, memorable, or compelling. On the contrary, a handful of them are quite laughable, particularly the one involving an alligator or crocodile as it bites off the head of each family member.
It fails to take advantage of its rural setting. The farmhouse with a terrible past sits in the middle of nowhere, but the director, Ciarán Foy, defaults framing from the waist up. This is a miscalculation on two levels. First, the performers are not particularly convincing in their roles. The words they utter are merely decorations in order to move the plot along. We do not feel the history of each character. Second, not enough of the environment is captured in the background in order to get the audience into a spooky or creepy mood.
The latter limitation is particularly problematic because this is a horror film, after all. Instead, the filmmakers rely on utilizing computer graphic images to try to scare us, from elusive apparitions to a fire that threatens to consume. Having too much CGI in the horror genre almost never works because it takes away the required realism in order to get the audience to believe, subconsciously or otherwise, that what is happening on screen could happen out there. As in many horror films, the CGI here looks cheap and distracting.
There is a romantic subplot in “Sinister 2” that is so misplaced, one begs to wonder what the writers were thinking during the brainstorming process. Someone should have spoken up that such a sudden shift in tone distracts from the main story rather than elevating it. But even if did not, there is nothing new or exciting about the would-be couple. The charade is cheesy, desperate, and disingenuous.