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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Movie Review: Sinister II (2015)

I'm going to be honest: I went into Sinister II with expectations on par with those most would set for a new installment in the Saw franchise. Yet, amazingly, Sinister II managed to take those expectations and blow them deeper into the proverbial barrel that is the manufactured horror sequel; heartless, soulless, and complete garbage.

A sequel to the 2012 horror film Sinister, Sinister II follows Courtney (played by Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin sons, Dylan and Zach (played by real life twins Robert and Dartanian Sloan) as they move into a house to escape the abusive patriarch of their family, Clint (played by Lea Coco). It's within this house that Dylan becomes haunted by a group of ghost children who were taken away by Bagul (played once more by Nicholas King), each of who show them snuff films in order to make his nightmares of his family dying go away.

Sinister II expands greatly upon the mythology established by the first film. As is to be expected in the world of “Things Vertigo Likes”, the end result is a film that feels like an obscene amount of exposition and filler with jump scares spliced in to remind you that you're wasting an hour and a half of your life watching this. Much of said filler comes from the side story with Deputy So and So (played once more by James Ransone). As great as it is to once again see the Deputy, the removal of his character would've made for a significantly smoother film. A shame too, he's the one of the few characters that doesn't’ feel like Bagul got to him.

In the way of the new insight into Sinister's mythology, we learn how Bagul gets to his victims. This involves having ghost children whose souls he's taken showing his next target their snuff films. You see, Bagul has his victims record the murders of their family—which were the highlights of the first film. The end result was something creepy, intense, and very effective. In Sinister II however, “creepy” is replaced with gore, “intense” is replaced with gore, and “very effective” is replaced with me playing Bloons TD 6 to stay awake.

As for the films themselves, we're treated to five. Due to them being one of the biggest parts of the film, I'll give a rundown of each of them. They are, in order of appearance:

Fishing Trip: The first of the films, a family is hung upside-down. After a brief bit of silence, a loud sound summons an alligator and tears off their heads one-by-one. This is a fitting start to these films as the CGI alligator in a 16mm film looks about as great as you'd expect.

Christmas Morning: A film that was planned to be in the first Sinister, this is easily the best of the bunch. After a brief bit of Christmas joy, a family is buried outside in the snow. The music is what makes this entire thing work, and it's the only one that actually manages to stick thanks it being clear as day that it was meant to be in the first.

Kitchen Remodel: Bagul's electrifying third child-directed snuff film has us watch a family get electrocuted in a flooded kitchen. The CGI burns on the family's arms look slightly better than the alligator. That said, this film felt out of place. It feels like it's meant to replicate the shock that BBQ had in the first film, but the repeated cuts from the film to Dylan's reactions was jarring at the least and infuriating at the most.

Sunday Service: The big, shocking film of the bunch, this one has a family crucified and sees rats, which are beneath metal bowls, chew through their stomachs as heated coal is placed atop said bowls. As disgusting as it sounds, the film never focuses more on Dylan's reactions. The CGI also makes the blood caked rats look like Jell-O models. It's also one of the few times Bagul is seen without him being a jump scares, and it's something that made me happy.

A Trip to the Dentist: This film is barely shown. That's because Sinister II couldn't be asked to actually show something because it's a garbage film that doesn't have the courtesy to build suspense, and instead uses any chance it gets to utilize a cheap jump scare over actual tension. This film has a little girl tie her family up and use a dentist's drill to go through their teeth and through their heads. If that sounds terrifying, don't worry, the entire film plays in the background as the twins and ghost kids bicker over the plot.

The usage of gore, as opposed to the first film's minimalistic conservative use of it for the majority of the snuff films, causes most of Sinister II to feel like The Ring and Friday the 13th had a baby. That alone would be obnoxious, but bearable. However, the endless reaction shots from Dylan—something that happens far more than it should—makes them feel like the film was partially edited by the geniuses who handled Taken 3.

If I'm to praise anything, James Ransone, along with the child actors, were good. They managed to carry certain scenes due to their desire to make the asinine script work. Nicholas King was also great as Bagul. This is because he never spoke.

I'll also give credit to the film's breakneck pacing. The lack of time to focus on anything meant I couldn't tell how astonishingly stupid the writing was three times out of ten. Nice job.

The last thing I'll discuss is Bagul himself. A character who wasn't often seen in the first film; instead remaining a figure who resided in his realm of pictures. With Sinister II, Bagul is thrown around as a jump scare like candy on Halloween. Gone is the eeriness of seeing him turn his neck to stare at our hero, gone is the disturbing silence as he stands ominously, and gone is any mystery behind this demon. Instead, let's just gave him appear with a loud noise to remind you this movie is scary. But hey, at least he has a suit.

Sinister II is one of the weakest sequels I've ever seen. Instead of building upon what made the first film work, it opts to languish in a pool of horror tropes, loud noises, awful CGI, and mythology that didn't need to be explained. The unyielding journey to the typical closing Blumhouse jump scare is one that I suggest passing on, even if you adored the first Sinister like I did. Ciaran Foy, as hard as he tried, couldn't make this script work. Not that I think Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill tried.

As a final little bit of info I find amusing: this film was announced in March of 2013. It was released in August of 2015. All that time to make this. Good job.

Final Score: 0.5/5

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