In 2012 the first Sinister was one of the surprise horror hits of the year. While a decent enough film, I have to admit the positive buzz surrounding it surprised me a little. I felt the jump scares weren't really up to par, the bad guy was kinda lame and with a running time clocking in at 110 minutes, it royally overstayed its welcome. Normally I would simply watch the sequel because I'm one of those people who likes to finish what he starts, but when I heard Ciaran Foy (Citadel) was attached to the project, my interest was piqued.
In many ways Sinister 2 is a pretty typical horror sequel. The reveal of the bad guy happens a lot faster, there are more scares per minute, the film is shorter in length and lacks a famous lead to draw in the crowds. Sinister 2 was made to cash in on the name of the first film without spending too much money in the process. The result could've been pretty dire, if not for Foy's talent pulsating underneath the film's tangibly commercial setup. For all its faults and shortcomings though, I actually ended up liking Sinister 2 better than the first one.
For one, the scares are way more effective compared to the first film. From the very start Foy builds up the tension without ever dropping the pace. There's no long introduction, not too much character development and very few breathers in between, instead Sinister 2 jumps right into the action and keeps the rope tight. That saves about 15 minutes in the end, making for a much more economic running time.
The highlights of Sinister 2 are without a doubt the short found footage segments interspersed throughout the film. They are nasty, vile and gruelling without ever becoming too gory or in your face. The soundtrack is what truly sets them apart though. Heavily distorted, electronic-based soundscapes and music that at times overpowers even the visuals. The kitchen murder in particular is a bit of film that's best experienced in front of a really big screen with a very capable sound system. It's in these moments that Foy's influence is felt the most.
The acting is decent enough, the plot suffices. A bit too much time is spent on the custody case and the father of the kids could've used some extra acting lessons, but those are just small annoyances that aren't allowed enough time to spoil the rest of the film. The bad guy is also still a bit silly-looking, luckily he only plays a secondary role in this sequel.
Foy seems well aware of the film's strengths and weaknesses and tries to focus on what makes a good horror flick tick. That said, it's clear that Sinister 2 is more than just a Foy product and at times the call for commercial success clashes with its purer genre aspirations. It's a shame because the potential was there to make this even better, on the other hand it's always good to see a sequel improving on the first film and to see an upcoming director confirming his talent with his follow-up. I just hope Foy returns to original projects sooner than later.