By James Hancock August 21st, 2015
I watched the first Sinister (2012) mostly out of curiosity to see what director Scott Derrickson was capable of. When I heard that he had been tapped to direct Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange film, I needed to know for my own peace of mind that the franchise was in good hands. Overall the first Sinister was a very solid supernatural horror film that made me leap in fright repeatedly throughout the story. What a difference a good director can make as I witnessed firsthand this evening when I went to see Sinister 2 directed by Ciarán Foy, whose previous work includes the 2012 movie Citadel. Having just endured the worst movie I’ve seen all summer (and that includes the giant steaming pile of manure Fantastic Four), I’m ready to declare that the summer movie season has officially completely run out of steam. While the first half of Sinister 2 might be a little sleep-inducing with the occasional scare thrown in to keep the audience on their toes, the last half is so obscenely stupid that it is enough to make one wonder how this movie ever got made at all. The horror genre has no shortage of lackluster sequels, in fact their numbers are legion, but it has been decades since I have had the privilege of witnessing a horror movie this mind-numbingly bad. Somewhere right now M. Night Shyamalan is doing cartwheels celebrating the fact that the horror genre now has a new punching bag that doesn’t have his name attached to it.
If you remember the plot of the first Sinister, this story resumes with the sheriff’s deputy played by James Ransone who is now determined to hunt down and destroy any remnants of the boogeyman named Bughuul that plagued Ethan Hawke’s character the first go around. Ransone’s search leads him to a country home where Shannyn Sossamon’s character is living in hiding with her two boys trying to avoid her violent ex-husband. The home is right next to a massive barn where Bughuul previously orchestrated a massive human sacrifice and is now grooming the new family for the same treatment. For reasons that are too elaborate and too idiotic to repeat, in this movie Bughuul’s modus operandi is to use ghosts of children to recruit other children in order to seduce them into not only killing their family but also to film the elaborate deaths on super 8 film for Bughuul’s later amusement. These films are then played for potential future recruits repeating the cycle over and over again. One of the two brothers takes after his father’s violent nature and is happy to join in the fun leading to 30 minutes of the worst filmmaking I can remember seeing in a very long time. Imagine a small child holding a scythe in one hand and a camera with the other looking through the eyepiece running around in the dark trying to kill two adults, one of whom is an ex-cop, and another child. The deck does not exactly seem stacked in favor of the psychotic kid being much of a threat yet somehow through the magic of a lot of handheld shaky-cam chase footage we are supposed to believe that the side with numerical and physical superiority is scared of this kid. The audience was laughing hysterically at the absurdity of the situation while I simply glared at the screen wondering how I could get this piece of my life back.
Sinister 2 feels as if it received the green light by a committee of marketing experts and accountants who figured they could sell the film based on the reputation of the first installment irrespective of the quality of the new movie. I refuse to believe that anyone believed horror fans would actually like the movie. Most horror fans I know are pretty discriminating when it comes to their horror fixations with many of them devoting large chunks of their lives to obsessing over horror legends like Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Dario Argento, George A. Romero, Lucio Fulci, David Cronenberg and Mario Bava. I despise movies where it feels as if the producers are looking down on their audience, figuring that the target audience will sit through whatever garbage they can quickly put together just by virtue of it being a horror film at least in name. The only way to get better horror movies made is to be brutally honest about the ones that come up short. If you’ve ever enjoyed a horror film in your life and wish to repeat that experience, watch basically any other horror film ever made and chances are high that you will have a far more satisfying experience than watching Sinister 2.
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