A young mother and her twin sons move into a rural house that's marked for death.
In filmmaker Scott Derrickson’s original ‘Sinister’, this writer’s critical impressions toward the sub-par psychological yarn was rather blunt if not consistent with the steady diet of formulaic fightfests. The following passage pretty much sums up the cinematic sentiments from the movie’s critique:
'At best Sinister is a lukewarm twitchy tale that routinely teases the audience with the obligatory guessing game of whether or not the conjured up evil-minded spookiness is imagined…cheapened scare tactics, an ambiguous monstrous myth, transparent characterizations and a mixed bag of a supernatural storyline barely put any Sinister thoughts in our heads worth contemplating.‘
Well, say what you will about the first ‘Sinister’ outing but it at least had some slight star power in lead Ethan Hawke whose presence was one of the minor pluses in Derrickson’s shoddy shocker. In director Ciaran Foy’s (‘The Citadel’) tingling yet generic ‘Sinister II’, we hardly experience the essence of top-notch horror-induced hedonism. Feverishly flat, the creepily clichéd ‘Sinister II’ continues the tedious tradition of assembling sure-fire goose bump moments yet never really fortifying these mentioned moments with any heft of genuine suspense or titillating intelligence. At best, ‘Sinister II’ skillfully demonstrates its somber shell but horror movies in general, at least ones that strive for sophistication and coherence, should not continuously hide behind the sketchy synthetics of macabre mediocrity.
'Sinister II’ dutifully shares its symbolic connection with its predecessor. For starters, ‘Sinister’ alum James Ransone (the deputy from the first film) returns to the perverse playground while being blessed with a lead role in this frightful follow-up. After his dubious dealings with the Oswalt family in the first film’ where he was part of the police force’ the former law enforcer now works as a private investigator in his continued quest to combat that pesky spirit known as the demon Baghuul. Ransone’s ex-deputy is consumed with the shocking murders that took place previously, so it is his mission to eradicate the further Baghuul-instigated mayhem.
The newest family involved in the menacing mix consists of an Indiana farmhouse containing a mother named Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two young sons (real-life brothers Dartanain Sloan and Robert Sloan). Unfortunately, Courtney is battling back and forth with her insufferable and indignant husband (Lea Coco) as her poor boys are caught up in the heated drama. The last thing that Courtney needs is a domestic distraction in the farmhouse that incorporates the spookiness of the Baghuul’s mischievousness. Thus, the hapless deputy-turned-PI must do what it takes to prevent the Baghuul from corrupting the psyches of this vulnerable family unit.
The film’s screenplay, written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, plays up to its predictable strengths as the audience is already steeped in the ‘Sinister’ mindset. Unfortunately, the element of mystery and intrigue is already compromised because ‘Sinister II’ does not really leave much second guessing for its titillating tension since it already displayed the same kind of copycat gloom-and-doom blueprint as evidenced in the first installment. In echoing the familiar patterns of eerie scare tactics, this sequel merely mirrors the shady shenanigans found in the first showing that was not that innovative the original time around. Sure, the unsettling imagery does have some warranted punch that leaves somewhat of a horrific impact. The grainy and gruesome home film angle showing a family’s hanging is undoubtedly quite affecting but the shock factor is brief and oddly forgettable. One is left wondering if there are enough tingly tricks up Foy’s desperate sleeve to arm ‘Sinister II’ with more than just drab shadows and twitchy innuendo.
Indeed, ‘Sinister II’ is atmospheric and bleak and does a sure fire job of creating a dank and disturbing universe where the percolating peril steadily brims. However, that is the problem with ‘Sinister II’ as it settles for the surface-base hedonistic haunting without committing to anything morbidly motivating sans the convoluted creepy conventions. Ransone’s bid to expose the imposing beast Baghuul while protecting the fragile welfare of the vulnerable Collins is genuinely a number-by-number plotline that feels stillborn. Even the dastardly Baghuul is stripped of anything particularly mysterious or diabolical for the audience to get on board and become mortified. Resembling a late gray-bluish sandpaper-faced rocker in The Doors’ frontman Jim Morrison with long stringy hair and mod attire, the Baghuul does nothing to really stimulate the gory imagination of ‘Sinister’s movie-making mythology
Little beauty and the rock n' roll attire Beast is something being presented as quite SINISTER.
Little beauty and the rock n’ roll attire Beast is something being presented as quite SINISTER.
In the long run, ‘Sinister II’ sings a spooky song in many ways but arms its tepid tune with the continued cheap thrills and false jump edits that are so annoyingly common in contemporary creepfests. ‘Sinister’s crime is not so much the calculating presence of a haunt hipster looking to stunt the growth of bewildered housing inhabitants as it is following the pedestrian path of boofests with banal bangs of exhilaration.
Sinister II (2015)
1 hr 30 mins.
Starring: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Dartanain Sloan, Robert Sloan and Lea Coco
Directed by: Ciaran Foy
MPAA Rating: R
Genre: Horror/Psychological Thriller/Supernatural & Suspense
Critic’s rating: * * stars (out of 4 stars)
Tank Caterpillar, Blumhouse Productions, Alliance Films, Automatik Entertainment, Entertainment One, IM Global, Steady Aim, Gramercy Pictures by CiarÃ¡n Foy, Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill.
Stars: James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan.
Genres: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
Keywords: nightmare haunted house deputy investigation police supernatural sequel murder evil spirit disappearance private investigator investigator twins killer evil ritual murder ghost mysterious killer evil child isolated farmhouse cold case horror icon supernatural power rural film projector
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