The Austin Chronicle

Sinister 2

Rated R, 97 min. Directed by Ciarán Foy. Starring James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Lea Coco, Robert Daniel Sloan, Dartanian Sloan, Tate Ellington, John Beasley, Lucas Jade Zuman, Jaden Klein, Laila Haley, Olivia Rainey.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 28, 2015

Is it just me or is Bughuul the perfect name for the next Norwegian black metal band? Yes, it’s actually the name of an alleged ancient Babylonian demon and the boogeyman puppet master in both this film and the 2012 original, but the sibilant flow of the vowels still makes me think of lonely, lovely churches in flames, backset by the epically craggy and surely troll-infested Valdresflye. Probably that’s just me.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the Sinister series’ rapacious evil spirit appears to be drawn from the same twilit corners of the Internet that birthed the quixotically believable Slender Man meme-dream, corpse-paint facial and all. It seems unfair to lump Sinister 2 together with the modern spook movie “found footage” genre insomuch as the filmmakers happily employ good old 16mm film in their “found” sequences, God bless ‘em. That lends the eerie proceedings an authentically anxious tone that can only be drawn from the real-life nightmare of trying to thread a loop of celluloid through a bothersome Bell & Howell. The mind positively reels.

Sinister 2 finds former Deputy So-and-So (Ransone, his character remaining unnamed) from Sinister working as a private investigator whose main raison d’être now appears to be attempting to preclude more demonic misfortune. Accordingly, he sets out to torch a rural church and accompanying manse that fits the pattern of the original crime scene only to find that it’s occupied by a custody battle-embroiled mom (Wayward Pines' Sossamon) and her two young boys (identical twins Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan). Genuinely twisted found-film footage – alligators make an inspired appearance – ensues, as does Bughuul’s now-you-see-me/now-you-don’t Babadook-ery.

Foy, replacing previous helmer Scott Derrickson, can’t top the unnerving disquiet that made the first film such a solid, left-field offering, but the script by Derrickson and Austinite C. Robert Cargill makes up for it with its own absurdist charm. Ransone alternates between a comic groove that borders on the Lynchian – his opening sequence in a confessional is priceless – and more serious scenes. Sossamon is equally game, and the electronic-y duo of Thomas Hajdu and Andy Milburn, better known as tomandandy, underpin the grave goings-on with a suitably subtle and frequently disquieting score. Sinister 2: not half as terrifying as Norwegian black metal, but still one of the better found footage-gimmicked sequels in recent memory.

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