Sinister 2 full movie review - A noticeable improvement over the first
For many horror films, once the possibility of a franchise solidifies itself among bankable names, it takes many blunders for it to lose traction.
Yet, quantity usually triumphs over quality and thus leaving many franchises to quickly run out of steam due to lack of interest and just trying to make a quick cash-in. For Sinister (2012), which was written and directed by up-and-coming Scott Derrickson created quite a fanbase for the villain of Bughuul (Nicholas King). Even with the last half of the film's execution being almost transparent in predictability and protagonists that weren't the easiest to sympathize with, its first half was exceptionally well crafted in its premise and its mysterious clues that was left behind. It had something but wasn't fully realized. Unfortunately, this fault was most likely due to Derrickson taking on too many tasks. Being writer/director is not always the easiest thing to do. So for this sequel, Derrickson plays just a writer and it seemed that it was a better choice.
Teaming up again with Derrickson as co-writer is C Robert Cargill who also worked on Sinister (2012). Together they not only fixed some of the problems that plagued the first film, but added more material as well and in less of a running time. After the events of Sinister (2012) and being discharged from the force, Ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone) continues to make it his mission to keep families from inhabiting the houses that the murderous killings took place. However, since he's one man and possibly the only one to understand what's going on, doesn't mean he gets to every spot in time. Enter Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) a divorced mother and her two sons Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) who are trying to stay secluded from their abusive husband/father's radar (Lea Coco). Where are they - taking refuge in a house where next door one of Bughuul's sacrifices took place. The direction by Ciarán Foy (Citadel (2012)) and the writing help greatly in making this viewing a much more significant watch.
The backstory trinkets of information given out come from Dr. Stomberg (Tate Ellington) who fills in as a replacement for Professor Jonas (Vincent D'Onofrio) while giving a verbal explanation to why he was not featured. Along with him are a bunch of Bughuul's loyal kid followers headed by a boy named Milo (Lucas Jade Zumann) who elaborate on how Bughuul chooses the families he has/wants destroyed. Another plus is the likable characters featured in this story. Even from Sinister (2012), Deputy So & So that James Ransone plays is a better good-natured character than Ellison Oswalt ever was; channeling his "inner Dr. Loomis" sort of speak. The struggling one mother family is an added bonus with Shannyn Sossamon and the Sloan brothers pitching performances that are much more interesting to watch. It is kind of surprising though when Lea Coco plays a more frightening antagonist than Bughuul himself. Coco's ability to change personality at the snap of a finger may take viewers off guard. That's not to say Nicholas King as Bughuul isn't effective. Bughuul is still an uncomfortable villain and with more information on his background and personality, he's more than just a spook now.
Unfortunately even for these mended elements, the scares are practically nonexistent throughout. Like many horror films, the "sting" is included in several scenes. It's damaging when there's promise and something so cliché like that is still resorted too as a means of scares. The only things that are positively cringeworthy are the kill films that are viewed on a nightly basis and the violence. Not every scene is bloody but they are all brutal and morbid. There's also a question of knowledge and continuity here. One key moment that is specifically noticeable is when Courtney and sons are taken back by ex-husband Clint without telling Deputy So & So where they are. Yet, So & So found their house without anyone telling him the address. There was no mention of a tracking device or using satellite technology to locate them via cell phone,...so how'd he know? It's not stated.
As for flaws go, this is about it. The cinematography to this sequel looks much better than the work in Sinister (2012). For this production, Amy Vincent (Footloose (2011) and Eve's Bayou (1997)) was the director of photography. Unlike Chris Norr's work from the original, which only captured a couple of different rooms within the Oswalt house and was very dimly lit. Here, Vincent captures a lot of the Collins' house, outside/around and in the building neighboring the house. Top that off with appropriate lighting and there really isn't much to complain about. The music was a welcome addition too. Christopher Young sadly did not compose the score to this feature, but instead by Tomandandy, a duo of composers who are best known for their work on The Strangers (2008). Although Young's credit is sorely missed, Tomandandy preserve Bughuul's eerie main theme and cultivate new and other creepy tracks that are distinct in their own way. The music still consists of warped bass notes, out of tune piano keys and thankfully not much of extra soundtrack noises this time.
It still has its continuity errors and is practically scareless, yet it manages to resurface itself above the original by having writing that gives more background information and personality to its villain and a more agreeable set of protagonists. The cinematography is also an improvement while sustaining the disturbing footage and foreboding film score.