Movie Review: ‘Sinister 2’ the comedic sequel to a horror flick
Are ham radios scary? Ham radios aren’t scary, right? I only ask because I’ve personally never found ham radios to be scary. Maybe that’s just me. Maybe there are a few of you who would be frightened if a ham radio was very loud or its dials suddenly lit up and it took on the appearance of a frowny, displeased face. Maybe you can’t listen to static without filling your pants with a combination of anguish and urine. I don’t know. But if I’ve just described one of your most deep seated and reoccurring fears, “Sinister 2” could be the fright-filled, ghosty-riffic shock show you’ve secretly longed for. For everyone else –eh – well, “It Follows” is available on Blu-ray and iTunes.
Of course the “scary” ham radio thing is a symptom of a bigger problem that plagues “Sinister 2.” The film really doesn’t know how to continue the first film’s narrative. Which is understandable considering there was nothing left to say after the events of “Sinister.” Once Ethan Hawke is ritualistically murdered by his own pre-teen daughter, what do you do for an encore? The desperate answer: show how those children were driven to commit the act. Lacking the central mystery that made the first film so engaging, “Sinister 2” takes everything that didn’t work in “Sinister” and bases a very ill-advised movie around it.
While on the run from her abusive husband (a character who looks and acts like somebody who would get tossed out of a window by Dee Snider in a Twisted Sister video), Shannyn Sossaman and her sons (real life brothers Robert Daniel and Dartanian Sloan) hide out in an abandoned farmhouse. Not surprising, the farmhouse is haunted by a clique of very cool dead kids who are forcing Robert Daniel to watch goofy and needlessly elaborate snuff films as well as pressuring him into murdering his family because – c’mon! All the cool dead kids are doing it! Meanwhile, the human parody of Jake Gyllenhaal that is James Ransone twitchily fights a losing battle against returning baddie Bughuul who mostly just fake lunges at people like an ineffective high school bully. Also, did I mention the scary ham radio? There’s a scary ham radio.
In spite of the fact that “Sinister 2” retains the original screenwriters (Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill), the film still feels like a shameless cash-in hastily produced by people that neither care about nor understand what worked about “Sinister.” Eschewing the washed out cinematography of its predecessor in favor of an inappropriately lush, Thomas Kincaid-esque visual palette, director Ciarán Foy loads his movie with the horror movie equivalent to fart jokes: the jump scare. Additionally, whereas “Sinister” was confident enough to leave some questions unanswered, “Sinister 2” can’t shut its stupid mouth for two seconds. Everything is explained and then explained again. As the mystery is stripped away, so is the tension and any lingering interest the audience is still clinging to. Additionally, because this is a sequel, the creepy yet understated 8mm home movies that were such a highlight in “Sinister” are now reduced to being unintentionally hilarious embarrassments, in which weirdly aggressive alligators bite off people’s heads, and 7-year-old children have somehow acquired the knowledge and dexterity to set-up Rube Goldberg-like murder devices. Even worse, we’re forced to watch these films with a pack of smirking, undead Little Rascals (and, apparently, their collection of rare Jandek Record Store Day EPs) who, much like the rest of the movie, simply refuse to shut their wet, yappy lips.
If there’s one positive thing to take away from “Sinister 2” it’s that it opens strongly with the sight of a trio of crucified human scarecrows slowly bursting into flames as the ambient soundtrack drones ominously in the background. But even this is pale copy of the scene that opened “Sinister.” “Sinister 2” is an embarrassment, the worst horror sequel in recent memory and a powerful testament to the dreariness of ham radios.
Mike Sullivan is a movie reviewer for Weekender. Movie reviews appear weekly in Weekender.
Starring: Shannyn Sossamon, James Ransone
Director: Ciaran Foy
Weekender Rating: V