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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Sinister 2 (Blu-ray)
Sinister 2 (Blu-ray)
Universal // R // January 12, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $34.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted January 10, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

Click an image to view Blu-ray screenshot with 1080p resolution.

I wrote in 2013 about Director Scott Derrickson's Sinister, which maintains an atmosphere of dread, earning its scares and shocking the audience with snuff films of grisly murders. That film was anchored by Ethan Hawke's character, who stumbles upon these death reels at his new house and awakens the presence of malevolent Bughuul. Sinister is the rare, frightening modern horror film and it did well financially, necessitating this inferior sequel, Sinister 2. Derrickson produces but passes the directing reins to Ciaran Foy, who shot the inventive Citadel. Now Ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone) returns to investigate the continuing murders related to Bughuul, and Shannyn Sossamon is the mother of two young boys who are in danger of being recruited to the demon's adolescent army. Sinister 2 maintains some of the original's dark atmosphere, but too much of the mystery has already been revealed. The focus shifts from Bughuul to his young henchmen, and the snuff films here are mostly lazy and not frightening.

Ransone's character looks like Norman Bates and played a red herring of sorts in the first film. He is not a likely hero, but is the best part of Sinister 2. The deputy begins tracking Bughuul-related murders and burning down the houses where each took place before another family can fall into the trap. His work takes him to a country farmhouse, where Courtney Collins (Sossamon) has fled from an abusive ex-husband and is living with young sons Dylan and Zach (Robert and Dartanian Sloan, respectively). There was a multiple homicide in the nearby church, and ghostly children visit Dylan nightly. They force him to watch Super 8 "home movies" of their kills with titles like "Fishing Trip," "Kitchen Remodel," "Christmas Morning," and "Dentist Appointment." These snuff films were the stuff of nightmares in Sinister, but are sadly lacking this go-round. Not only are the kills less inspired (hot coals and rats, really?), but these unspool in a decidedly less sinister environment. Where Ethan Hawke caught his first glimpses of Bughuul and nearly choked on scotch during "Lawn Work '86," Dylan watches with a group of overacting children in relative safety.

Bughuul's origins were explained in the first film, and he is a real son-of-a-bitch, using kids to kill their families and increase his powers. Where the original built suspense upon shadowy glimpses of the demon, Sinister 2 just throws him out there every once and awhile, though you'd be remiss to remember him during the film's midsection where the ghost kids become the antagonists. The dramatic structure of Sinister 2 is totally wonky, too. I don't think continuing this story was a bad idea, per se, as Ex-Deputy So & So's research could have led to shocking revelations. Unfortunately, the filmmakers include a confusing domestic drama about Courtney's custody battle. They do this to paint the boys as vulnerable to attack and infighting, but it remains a distracting narrative device throughout. Ransone and Sosamon share screen time, and neither rises to anchor the film as Hawke did.

The film is not a total bust, as there is an exciting, bloody climax that sees the return of an awesome, scratch-skip musical arrangement from the original. The film teases deeper exploration of Bughuul's legend, but it never goes down that path. Instead, Sinister 2 feels like a slapdash, quickly shot film made to capitalize on the success of the original. These Jason Blum-produced sequels are becoming less and less tolerable, and I hope his Blumhouse Productions will continue to focus on original horror properties. Fans of the original may want to rent Sinister 2, but do not expect the atmosphere, scares, performances and impressive technical achievements of the first. Now that laundry list of disappointments is scary.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

Universal distributes this sequel instead of Summit, and the 2.40:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is very strong. Sharpness and clarity are both excellent, and softness is never a problem. Fine-object detail and texture excel. The minute details of demon faces are readily apparent, as are the creepy set decorations in murder homes and churches. Black levels are inky, and shadow detail is good save a couple of shots that push hot. I noticed no digital anomalies.

SOUND:

The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is a great horror-movie soundtrack that immerses and frightens the viewer. Dialogue is clean and unhindered, and is layered appropriately with effects and score. That tomandandy score is quite good, and adds a lot to a climactic scene. Ambient, spooky effects are numerous and effective. Action-heavy jolts rumble the home theater and awaken the subwoofer. Directional effects and sound pans are frequent and expertly handled. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This single-disc release is packed in a standard case that is wrapped in an embossed slipcover. Universal includes both iTunes and UltraViolet digital copies. Extras include a Commentary by Director Ciaran Foy; Deleted Scenes (9:29 total/HD); and Extended Kill Films (11:38 total/HD). You also get a short making-of, Time to Watch Another: The Making of Sinister 2 (10:11/HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This follow-up to the impressive Sinister is inferior in every way. Bughuul comes out of the shadows, and much of the mystery and dread of the original go with him. James Ransone returns alongside Shannyn Sossamon, as a single mother whose young boys are in danger of being recruited to Bughuul's demon army. The snuff films are underwhelming and the scares are just not here. Rent It at most.


Additional screenshots:

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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