Sinister 2 (2015) (Review)

The horror landscape has been rather barren this year - it appears we're going through a drought in what was once a lucrative genre, whilst they were in abundance in previous years. Realistically, you can count the number of horror releases on one hand this year, which is why my expectations for Sinister 2, the follow up to the original in 2012, was so strong. Matched with the mainframe that a follow up - one that's been three years in the making -  must be good, I hoped for better than what the sequel actually offered.

Courtney (Shannyn Sossomon) and her two sons, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) appear to be on the run, finding shelter in an abandoned rural home, later revealed to be the home of a recent brutal murder that wiped out all but one child in the family. With the children tormented by nightmares, visions and ghosts, their mother finds comfort with Ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone), who continues to investigate these gruesome murders and how they are linked. With Ransone the only one reprising his role, albeit as a more central character, it left the field open to explore the child-snatching villain Bughuul. It could have worked, but instead degraded the once sinister and frightening enigma to be used for nothing more than cheap jump scare tactics.

Ciaran Foy's turn in the directing chair offers some visually striking cinematography, with some impressive camera angels and levels, created to differentiate reality from the boy's fears and nightmares. But any chance of building tension is shattered from an overly loud and conspicuous soundtrack score, which almost weakens the overall impact of these scenes to something of a disappointment. The snuff films created increase from the last film in terms of innovation and graphicness but at the same time, increase in terms of being scarcely credible. Did a child really manage to create a trap in which to dangle his entire family over a crocodile infested pool? That said, there's no denying the impact they had - especially the psychopathic 'Kitchen Remodel' and Church tapes.

The generally uninspired plot is held up to the best of Shannyn Sossamon's ability, who proves to be an attribute to the otherwise weaker sequel. Robert Daniel Sloan portrayal as Dylan, the underdog as such, also proves to be a decent addition to the cast, immediately provoking sympathy and partiality in comparison to his brother's devil of a character. When it comes to the other kids, however, I've seen more convincing acting at GCSE drama level. One of the kids said something resembling the emotion of 'threatening' and I burst out laughing. James Ransone did well enough, but sloppy writing made the character seem dubious when it comes to believability of his actions and investigation. I'm unsure whether he was the right character to lead the sequel on review but his presence offered a reminder as to the events of the last film, which would otherwise feel detached without any returning characters keeping the narrative driven and focused.

Inferior to Sinister, the second instalment doesn't quite manage to maintain the tightness we saw last time, nor does it manage to truly scare you, cheap jump tactics aside. But in a year that is lacking in horror outputs, it tides us over for a while and I still hold out that a decent franchise can be built from this, in a similar light to Blumhouse's Purge, Insidious and Paranormal Activity franchises and brands. Despite projections of a lower box office total, this relatively cheap budget outing will hopefully spur stronger sequels in the near future.

Summary: Sinister 2 isn't a complete failure, but the decision to put the villain's background and history front and centre ruined the impact and mystery of the character that allowed for the intensity of the original film.

Highlight: Brief mumble in the cinema when the kid dropped the F-bomb. A massive gasp when he dropped the C-bomb seconds after. Also, that's what happened on the fishing trip.