Sinister 2 film review: double the scares?

Does Sinister 2 match the surprise success of the original?

The first Sinister was a high point for Blumhouse; a well-acted, tense and genuinely creepy chiller that also made a ton of money for the studio. Director Scott Derrickson steps back from the camera for the sequel (taking co-writing duties with C Robert Cargill), which tries a different approach with mixed results.

Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin boys Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) have moved to a remote farmhouse to escape her abusive husband.

Unfortunately, it’s been marked by the bogeyman, and the spirits of the evil kids are intent on pushing the sensitive Dylan to murder by forcing him to watch their kill films. Can Ex-Deputy So-And-So (James Ransone) figure out how to help before it’s too late?

Sensibly deciding to focus on the kids rather than putting another hapless investigator through original star Ethan Hawke’s journey, director Ciarán Foy (Citadel) quickly establishes an air of creepiness. The early scenes of a young boy being forced to watch shocking scenes of ‘real’ violence are disturbing, and the kill films are still disturbing.

Similarly successful is the return of Ransone’s character, who is moved into the leading man role (and put through a hell of a lot of jump scares) while retaining his endearing Deputy-Dewey-from-Scream earnestness.

He’s a refreshing genre lead in his awareness of exactly how bad the situation is, and he has good chemistry with Sossamon, who also puts in strong work.

However, things get dicey in the second half with a twist that’s both telegraphed and underwritten. The script adds extra layers to the Baguul mythos, but the abusive father storyline feels rushed.

As for those creepy ghost kids, less is more, and their presence gets less scary with each reappearance and scornful smirk.

This may not be as scary or cohesive as its predecessor, but the kill films retain their power to shock and Ransone and Sossamon make for a very watchable lead pairing.

It rattles and shakes, but there are still scares to be had on this ghost train.