James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Lea Coco, John Beasley
US DVD: 12 Jan 2016
UK DVD: 15 Dec 2015
The ending can make or break just about any film out there. A surprise, twist ending can redeem an entire movie if it is well-connected and sensible. This forces the audience to come back again and again to see how all of the pieces fall into place. On the other hand a poorly connected, tacked-on “surprise, twist ending” is an insult to the audience, which has probably been sitting through a mediocre film thinking, “This had better end well, dammit!”
Such is the case with 2015’s Sinister 2, the sequel to 2012’s sleeper hit about a creepy supernatural killer in a Slipknot mask hiding within creepy footage of actual murders he may (or may not) have inspired.
Irish director Ciaran Foy took the reins for Sinister 2 and the previous film’s director Scott Derrickson returns to write the script with C. Robert Cargill (as with the first in the series). In front of the camera, the only linking character besides the demonic Slipknot fan Bughuul (Nicholas King) is the deputy from the first film, as played by James Ransone (credited here as “Ex-Deputy So & So” to show just how much the filmmakers cared).
After the big reveal (and mythos establishment) at the very end of Sinister, “Ex-Deputy So & So” has quit the sheriff’s office (as his lazy character name might imply) and has gone on to investigate further family murders that share similar scenarios with those of the previous film. In addition to reinventing himself as a private investigator, the erstwhile Deputy has also graduated to become a professional arsonist who burns down each house he finds in order to help prevent the supernatural virus from spreading.
Yes, the script asks a lot of the audience when it comes to buying into the mythology of this second film. The previous film’s big twist in the mystery has become just one more puzzle piece in the murky mishmash of ideas that is Sinister 2. By the time the credits roll it’s hard to keep all of the elements straight, but the audience shouldn’t feel too bad, because the filmmakers couldn’t seem to keep it all straight, either.
The specific family the artist formerly known as “Deputy” focuses on is the Collins trio, led by Shannyn Sossamon’s Courtney Collins who is raising twin sons, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan). If this sounds exactly like the kind of group that Bughuul and his gaggle of ghostly Slipknot groupie little kids would be attracted to, you’re not wrong.
Meanwhile, abusive husband and father Clint (Lea Coco) is trying to get the family back together (violently if necessary). Meanwhile, more and more of the mystery unravels and the plot thickens to the point of density.
While “density” isn’t a good thing, especially in a horror film so simple as this, there are some very interesting plot points here and there that promise to lead up to a thrilling conclusion. Though the movie is far from great, it’s hard to truly get bored as the puzzle pieces begin to fall into place. However, these good places put more of a burden on Sinister 2 to deliver. The audience is sure to say, “This had better end well, dammit!”
Sadly, although the potential for a good ending was there, the film squanders it in favor of a longer running time and a twisted ending that is hardly surprising or fitting. There are some legitimate scares and disturbing suspense in Sinister 2, but mostly this is all a setup for a jump startle, accompanied by an orchestral hit to really drive home the “eek!” However, “startles” are not the same thing as “horror”, and an overloaded plot is no excuse for the removal of subtlety.
Subtlety is remarkably lacking in this sequel to the point that it seems clear that the filmmakers have forgotten why the first film worked relatively well. The DVD features director commentary, deleted scenes and a “making of” documentary. All of this would be welcome in this “bare bones” DVD world had the film really enticed the audience to want to know more about it.
In a film where ghostly children attempt to force other kids to watch horror movies only to be repeatedly told “I don’t’ want to”, this somehow manages to be a microcosm for Sinister 2. I don’t want to watch any more either.