Sunday, February 21, 2016

In short: Sinister 2 (2015)

I’m not exactly surprised the sequel to one of the good mainstream horror films of the last few years isn’t any good itself, though I am still somewhat disappointed by it. Why, you might think not every narrative lends itself to become a franchise, and some stories are better told in a single film and don’t actually ask for a sequel!

What I didn’t expect, given that the sequel was again written by director of the first film Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, is quite how mechanical and lifeless the thing would be going to feel, with so many inserts of “creepy home videos” they absolutely stop being creepy, character beats the film fails to exploit thematically even when the connection should be obvious and would make the film so much more resonant. There is an overall feel of the writers going through a checklist of parts from the first film they need to repeat, but in a less effective way, instead of writing an actual movie. Despite a decent cast, the characters aren’t actual characters either, but walking, talking plot functions whose destinies never become much interesting or relevant because there’s so little substance to them, as much as James Ransone tries to pretend he’s awkward yet quietly heroic and Shannyn Sossamon raises her chin.

Director Ciarán Foy goes through the whole rigmarole with basic competence (he’s not going to nail the camera down or forget how to prepare functional blocking and so on) but with little flair or style. In fact, I found myself giggling through too many of the film’s (many, many, many, many) jump scares and most of its ghostly and demonic apparitions, thanks to the often unconvincing way they are staged and Foy’s emphasis on their mechanics. It’s all very much a professional looking 2015 mainstream horror film, but there’s such a lack of vision, heart or even just a little bit of passion here, I’d rather prefer a technically incompetent one that wants to say something or does make an honest attempt at making me uncomfortable instead of just going through the motions. Sinister 2 might as well just not exist for all the movie itself seems to care.

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