There is a scene in the opening moments of “Sinister 2” in which a survivor of “Sinister,” Deputy (James Ransone), now known ex Ex-Deputy So & So, consults with a priest, Father Rodriguez (James Beasley), on how to prevail over the evil he witnessed in the original movie. The priest responds that you cannot defeat evil, You can only protect yourself from it.
This sage statement can also apply to movie sequels. You cannot stop them from being churned out but you can protect yourself from them. Which is not to say sequels cannot be effective, especially with horror movies. The vital requirement is that the follow-up movies bring something new to the table.
Even back in the heyday of the Universal monster movies, all it took was a little creativity that enabled stories, particularly that of Frankenstein and the Wolfman, to entertain viewers through several films. In recent years the “Paranormal Activity” series, though repetitious with its found-footage gimmick, at least provides more tidbits as to why sweet Katie and her sister are targets of such a malevolent ghostly force. On the other hand, there was the abysmal attempt to cash in with another look at the Blair Witch Project.
“Sinister 2” is not a total failure, but it ends up just a rehash of the original, only with a different family as the victim. What was revealed in “Sinister” was that when these families were killed. one of the children ended up missing, and it turns out this missing child actually is the killer, filming the hideous murders. All of this apparently was at the bidding pf some pagan entity named Bughuul, who makes shadowy appearances in these snuff films.
The chain of murders continues because new families move into the homes where the previous murders took place.
So, as “Sinister 2” begins, Ex-Deputy So & So, who now is a private investigator — we’ll call him PI from now on — after not receiving any real useful advice from Father Rodriguez, has taken it upon himself to go and burn down the church and neighboring house where the last murders took place, hoping to end this string of horrific slaughters.
PI arrives at the supposedly uninhabited house with plans to burn it and the church down and discovers it has become a sanctuary for a woman and her two adolescent twin sons. The woman, Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon, who plays Pandora in the series “Sleepy Hollow”), is trying to elude her abusive estranged husband, a well-to-do sleazebag who wants to regain custody of the boys.
Meanwhile, one of the twins, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan), suffers horrific nightmares and is visited each night by a ghost boy named Milo (Lucas Jade Zumann), who urges Dylan to go down to the basement with him and watch home movies, promising that if he does, the nightmares will end. Meanwhile, twin brother Zach (Dartanian Sloan, who along with sister Anastasia and Robert are triplets), is a bit peeved and jealous that Milo is dealing with Dylan and not him.
His arson plans thwarted, PI nevertheless sticks around, doing some more investigating, which of course provides an opportunity to have him poking around inside the church and experiencing some scary moments that turn out to be anything but deadly.
PI is not eager to stay at the house overnight, so seeks Courtney’s permission to come back the next day, which she grants. That turns out to be a blessing, as Courtney’s ex, Clint (Lea Coco), shows up with some cops but no real legal grounds to reclaim his sons. PI is able to call the bluff.
Meanwhile, Dylan reluctantly ventures down to the basement each night with Milo, where other ghostly children appear. They each have their own home movie, and these scenes in which the home movies are shown provide the creepiest and most effective moments in “Sinister 2.” Just like the original, these home movies initially show blissful family activities such as Christmas morning, renovating a kitchen, a church service, but then cut to scenes where hideous killings of the families are put to film for ghastly posterity. Never have scenes of the joy of opening gifts on Christmas morning been more foreboding.
The screenplay was written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, who collaborated on the original “Sinister,” and unfortunately they do not add anything more to the story, other than PI getting a call from a Dr. Stromberg (Tate Ellington), who informs PI that mysterious old CB transmissions emanating from Norway pretty much reveal what is already known about Bughuul and his soul-stealing shenanigans.
By the time PI makes it back to Courtney, she already has been served new documents by Clint, forcing her and the boys to move back into his house, thus lining them up for the next family slaughter.
The final scenes offer some genuine scares, as creepy ghost kids help track down the surviving family members inside the Collins house.
But in the end, when everything seems to calm down, the words of Father Rodriguez echo in the minds of us all: You cannot defeat evil, especially if there is a possibility of a “Sinister 3.”