Blumhouse, the B movie megacorp responsible for the Insidious and Paranormal Activity series as well as 87% of what is on in cinemas at any one time, are no strangers to shocks. The Blumhouse signature, if there is one, would be bringing back the haunted house movie but amping up the jump scares. One of the biggest shocks in their recent history was that the first Sinister film was any good. An effective, simple ghost story with genuine horror (or genuine unpleasantness, at least), it was a great watch right up until its flat ending.
Sinister 2 sees a change of director. Irish up and comer Ciaran Foy, director of the ‘man protects baby from feral hoodies’ classist nightmarescape Citadel holds the reigns this time around.
The unnecessarily complex plot revolves around Shannyn Sossamon moving into a vacant murder house next to a creepy old church. She’s on the lamb with her two visually confusing twin boys. The kids begin to see traces of previous events, drip fed to them by a ghost kid team who are in thrall to the demon Baghuul. James Ransone’s ex-lawman comes into their orbit as he’s trying to track down the demon and stop the curse.
The film is an odd experience. At once it makes no allowance for those who don’t remember the first film and also, when information is revealed, we have to wait a long time for the characters and plot to catch up to it. This mostly means that we get to see a Wes Andersonesque ghost kid in a sweater bug another kid into watching a series of snuff movies while the adults figure out something is wrong. The script can’t seem to think of anything for Sossamon’s ‘mom on the run’ to do and, bizarrely the story becomes more about the dude trying to save them. That said James Ransone (Ziggy from The Wire) does become oddly charming as a comic sidekick who’s been accidentally bumped up to leading man.
For genre fans there is one admirably disgusting death scene and an otherwise forgettable bunch of jump scares. Most of the murders become repetitive and dull, happening to characters in the past who are not introduced to us as anything other than figures in grainy snuff films. The ghostly children are so un-threatening that it seems the living kids are hanging out with them to humour them. Moments of tension are there but they are few and far between.
Whereas the original film was about a growing feeling of dread as the lead discovers a curse, this film starts with no real mystery and shows us the stock characters catch up with the premise.
It’s workmanlike enough that it won’t end Foy’s career. He’s already signed up for another Blumhouse project called The Shee to be set in the West of Ireland. There are moments of ambition here and hopefully, without being shackled to a corpse of a script, he’ll shine.
Sinister 2 is in cinemas on Friday 21st August. Check out the trailer below.
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Feature Image credit: IGN