REVIEW: Sinister 2 (2015)

Focus Features and Blumhouse Productions Poster for Sinister 2

The following is a review of Sinister 2 (2015), directed by Ciaran Foy.

The original Sinister film was, without a doubt, one of the scariest films of 2012. I absolutely loved that film, and that is huge for me as I’m not a big fan of horror in general. So, as you can imagine, I was really excited about its sequel, Sinister 2. Here’s the thing though, unfortunately, Sinister 2 just isn’t good.

Sinister 2 picks up where the original film left off. ‘Deputy So & So’ has been fired due to how he assisted Ethan Hawke’s Ellison Oswalt in the original film, and So & So is trying to limit the power of the ‘bogeyman’ by burning down the houses that victims have lived in. While doing so, he comes across the unlucky Collins-family, who has settled down in the home of a former victim, and now So & So must try to save the day.

This is seemingly a rather simple story to execute, yet the end result still just seems so uninspired and, frankly, more frustrating than scary. The style that made the original film so great is lost here, and the creepy sensation surrounding the Sinister-bogeyman just becomes worn out. The only thing this film does to scare you is to add a lot of exhausting jump-scares.

Now, I’m not saying that the original Sinister-film did not have jump-scares — it did — but the sequel’s director, Ciaran Foy, fails to build-up to the jump-scares in thrilling or nail-biting ways. Scott Derrickson, who directed the first film, managed to slowly but surely build to his jump-scares, but this Foy-directed Sinister-film feels rushed, and I don’t think any jump-scares feel earned.

What this film needed was, simply, Scott Derrickson in the director’s chair. I know that that may not be fair to Foy, but Derrickson has such a great grasp of this genre. Time and time again he has proven to be a strong director in the horror genre. He is able to build suspense and unease, while being perfect at utilizing the scary elements of these kinds of films.

Look, sure, Derrickson had more talent to work with, most notably Ethan Hawke, an outstanding actor whose presence and performance helped to make the first film more than a run-of-the-mill horror flick. But it’s not like the lead actors in this film are talentless, and they certainly weren’t bad in this film. Shannyn Sossamon and James Ransone were definitely the highlights of this film, and I especially liked seeing Ransone in the lead role.

Foy’s sequel sadly failed to properly utilize the scary elements that made the first film so great. I think that Foy’s film used the ‘bogeyman’ character too much. Sometimes it’s, frankly, scarier to have your audience conjure up images in their heads via perfectly calibrated suspense than to overuse a character that is more frightening at the corner of your eye than at the center of the screen. But I have to say that, other than its over-reliance on jump-scare, my biggest problem with this film is the way the film relies on the young characters. This film relied too heavily on their preteen actors. The ghostly children were never the scariest part of the original film, but they added to the suspense and unease. They were perfect for the background. Yet, for some reason, someone made the decision to focus on the children in this film. Two twin boys are the ones who find the tapes, and I think that is a big mistake because neither the actors playing ghost children nor the actors playing the Collins-twins delivered particularly good performances.

Ultimately, with Sinister 2, Ciaran Foy fails to capture what made the first film so great, in part because of an over-reliance on jump-scares. What a shame.

3 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.