Film Review – Sinister 2
The storyline of the original Sinister back in 2012 revolved around an alcoholic writer and family man longing to reclaim the fame brought on by his first novel. His main competition is the dark entity existing in the family’s new home, which was the site of multiple murders, that also longs for recognition and a legacy. With the 2015 sequel, Sinister 2, the entity has outsourced much of his work to a bunch of kid ghosts whose bullying tactics do little for new business.
The young deputy (James Ransone) from the first film is now the lead of the second, trekking across America trying to destroy homes that were haunted by the celluloid-loving entity, Bughuul (Nicholas King), who kind of resembles a V for Vendetta cosplayer who painted the Guy Fawkes face over a potato sack. He travels to a rundown farmhouse in Indiana with an adjoining church that is supposed to be empty, its inhabitants long since murdered on the property. As it goes, he arrives to find a single mom and twin boys who are hiding out from the abusive husband and father. His frustration over finding the place occupied is evident, but his feelings change as Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon), figuring he isn’t a heavy sent by her powerful husband merely by asking if he is so and being told no, allows him full-access to the buildings.
If the first film were about the corruption of the father, the sequel focuses on the twin boys, Dylan and Zach (Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan). Though both boys have powers of clairvoyance, Dylan is the most preferred by the ghost children that pop up at night, probably because he is the less annoying of the two. Suffering from horrible nightmares, Dylan is assured by the lead ghost, Milo (Lucas Jade Zumann), that if he ventures nightly to the basement to watch snuff films of previous murders, he won’t dream when he goes back to bed. Milo and the rest of his Children of the Corn gang are fixated on binge-watching all the films: “Watch them all and never have bad dreams again.” If Dylan refuses, they leave him to be tormented in his bed all night. Thanks for nothing, Malachi.
While the hypersensitive Dylan sees blood on the church floor where his mom now works on restoring furniture, and Zach becomes more envious and physically threatening every day, mom Courtney can manage little more than a halfhearted scolding. To give her a little credit, she is preoccupied with a crazy good ol’ boy of an ex-husband (a cartoonishly evil Lea Coco), but instead of immediately acting on behalf of her sons when their secret location is discovered, she invites the young deputy for dinner and her living-room couch for the night.
The deputy (he is never named) is well aware of the paranormal and, yes, sinister disturbances on the property, but he never acts with any level of urgency, instead reacting to both Bughuul popping out at him behind the church pulpit and Courtney’s paper-thin advances with the same weird facial twitches and stuttering. The incompetence of both adults is so gratingly frustrating that the viewer appreciates Zach’s scenes more: the kid can’t get attention from anyone. Not even the ghosts: when he asks why they didn’t pick him, their reply is “You’re not smart enough to be one of us.” Cripes, kids! Bullying doesn’t end after death. It only causes Zach to resent Dylan more for his advantage and his mom for her insipid behavior. As she is nursing Dylan after Zach punches him in the mouth, she says, ‘I’m never going to let anyone hurt you.” Dylan gazes at her in total honesty and disbelief, as half their family already did.
The contents of the infamous murder reels during Dylan’s nightly descents down to the basement follow mostly the same palette: middle-class white families doing group activities seen in Hellman’s mayonnaise ads in the 1970s. Fishing, barbecuing, opening presents at Christmas – all so white bread. Later they are eaten by alligators or electrocuted during the kitchen remodel. Is this Bughuul’s artistic protest against the materialism of the bourgeoisie? In sending his young victims to recruit new members and lay the guidelines for production, he’s created his own little Factory of fame-hungry minions eager to leave their creative mark for future sociopaths and ghost hunters.
Conveniently, as the deputy and Courtney are about to embark on a hilariously anonymous semi-relationship and the twins are at odds over their inclusion in a supernatural film festival, a character from the past shows up with a possible “key to everything.” No, wait. It’s Dr. Stomberg, the assistant to the Professor from the first film, who contacts the deputy, as his mentor has gone missing. This is the last mention of the professor, who isn’t important enough to resolve, but is apparently important enough to be given a CHARACTER NAME, which the deputy is not. The deputy leaves to investigate this key, thus leaving the trio of incompetents alone and you see where this is heading.
By the tortured end (for the viewer), we are left with the inquietude of another sequel coming. From the mouth of madness, we know this story won’t end, because as Dr. Stomberg discovers, “It’s the aesthetic appreciation of violence that summons him.” If the murders are committed through art, they must be done artfully in order to be appreciated. Bughuul is the ultimate art snob, and poor Zack is willing but unable to fudge anything but stick figures and a sun with a smiley face. Even if that sun is shooting bolts of lightning at his hapless mother’s head.