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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 Nick Hartel | posted February 9, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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The 2012 horror film offering "Sinister" managed to garn itself some moderate critical buzz and a tidy box office; a mix of genre tradition, "Sinister" based itself around the concept of possessed children and snuff films, enlisting Ethan Hawke as a troubled true crime author who uncovers a horrifying string of murders and missing children, spanning decades. In the wake of "Sinister 2" one can easily revisit its predecessor and view it in a more fond light as a clear example of a "less is more" aesthetic to horror films. Loosely connected to the first film, "Sinister 2" rehashes a similar premise, this time, a completely new string of 8mm "kill films" fall into the hands of twins Dylan and Zach (played by real life twins Robert and Dartanian Sloan) and it's up to Deputy "So-and-So" (James Ransome) from "Sinister" now a disgraced ex-cop to warn the twins mother and hopefully save them from a fate as servants of Bughuul.

I went into "Sinister 2" with some inherent bias, having been lukewarm on its predecessor. Unfortunately, for every thing "Sinister" got right about inducing a sense of dread in viewers, "Sinister 2" gets horribly wrong. The screenplay, crafted by original writers C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, is lack creativity in numerous aspects, instead substituting it for excess. Gone is the mystery of who/what Bughuul is; in its place is a whole new host of damned pre-pubescent souls carrying out his sadistic handiwork. Arguably, the most unsettling aspect of "Sinister" were the "kill films" or in more common parlance, snuff films. While blatantly graphic at times, their lack of audio, instead supplemented by the film's unnerving sound design coupled with Ethan Hawke's desperate performance, allowed the concept of a child being possessed by an evil spirit and murdering his or her family on 8mm film to fully root into the subconscious. Here, the basic concept is the same, but with the child spirits of the film being forefront hosts to Dylan and Zach, the mystery is gone and any modicum of decency "Sinister" had in its execution of the films is thrown out the door for graphic sadism.

There is a running narrative backbone to "Sinister 2" focused on Dylan and Zach's mother, Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) attempting to flee a controlling, abusive husband. It's quite obvious, painfully I'll add, that the history of abuse is going to play a key role in Bughuul's effect on the twins (one timid, one, pardon the pun, sinister) and ultimately impede Deputy So-and-So's efforts to stop the cycle of murder and possession. The 98-minute runtime of "Sinister 2" is a tough slog and the whole affair genuinely disengaging. The one positive "Sinister 2" has over its superior roots is a more polished visual appeal and some quality sound design. I would have gladly welcomed back the murky visuals of the original if that also meant some of the legit smarts its script contained made its way into the follow-up.

Ultimately, "Sinister 2" is a forgettable horror film sequel, something that is foisted upon us all too often; it's not the first terribly sequel and it won't be the last. More worrisome is as whole, the "Sinister" series is marginally entertaining at best, a fact that solely rests on the printed pages of its scripts. It makes the choice of Cargill and Derrickson as writer and director respectively, on the upcoming "Doctor Strange" film (a series that has its roots in the macabre), a bit worrisome. I digress though, frankly because there is little left to say about "Sinister 2" that I haven't already said. It's an anemic story that squanders all the goodwill built by its predecessor and trades atmosphere for blatant shock value; simply put it is devoid of any dread and among the worst films of 2015.


THE VIDEO

The 1080p 2.40:1 transfer is quite stunning. While the plotting and overall coherence of "Sinister 2" is far removed from the still, somewhat mediocre original film, the transfer is much more clear in terms of contrast and color levels. Even at its most dark and dismal moments, "Sinister 2" sports accurate, natural black levels and distinct contrast, while color choices are steadfast and reproduced clearly. The film is quite sharp looking and when the vintage "kill films" are highlighted, the distinction between their 8mm origins and the modern film itself is striking and atmospheric; overall, "Sinister 2" sports a consistently high level of detail throughout.


THE AUDIO

The English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is an incredibly atmospheric piece of work that really provides the only memorable facet of the film. There's great low-end usage as an ominous sense of evil rumbles throughout at key moments. Dialogue is clear and balanced, while the film's scare moments are largely handled through a well mixed surround track. Overall, "Sinister 2" might drop the ball in most every category, but sound design is not one and the Blu-Ray highlights that fact well. An English Dolby Digital 2.0 track is also available. English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included.


EXTRAS

The extras consist of a commentary with director Ciaran Foy, a making of feature titled "Time to Watch Another", a gallery of deleted scenes, and extended version of the "kill films" that the film's plot is centered around.


FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite sporting a snazzy A/V presentation, "Sinister 2" is a bad movie from start to finish. It commits a number of sequel sins, the most damning of which is trading originality for shock value. It's greater sense of malice, almost all involving children, makes it more tiresome and sad than creepy and unnerving. It has a strange reverse appeal: those who were so-so on the original will likely develop a greater appreciation after seeing this mess, while fans are going to be sincerely let down. Skip It.

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