The human body is conditioned to flood with adrenaline and tense the muscles upon hearing a sudden loud noise. It’s an evolutionary reflex requiring few neurons, and has nothing to do with ideas of the other, of the macabre or horror in general. Right; science lesson over.
Sinister 2 uses a lot of jumpscares. You already know that because all of them are in the trailer. As with most clean mass appeal horror fare, there’s an issue of confused identity. The Super 8 film reel sequences through which the staggeringly unscary Bagul lives are strangely quite the delight. They’re gratuitous, janky and bleak, but they’re bookended by lectures in How to be Scared 101. Is there a dark corner? Jumpscare. Is there a reflection? Jumpscare. A long silence? You get the pattern.
The strangest pleasure in the film comes in the form of James Ransone, looking like Bruce Campbell if you crushed him in a mangle made of Luke Wilson. It’s almost hilarious how much his performance with his giant Disney eyes blatantly doesn’t suit this kind of film. There’s stuff to enjoy, with the domestic abuse subplot and burgeoning romance between Ransone and Shannon Sossamon threatening to overshadow the tiresome horror distractions entirely.
If the themes and characters could unite just a little more with the horror on display, we could be in for something noteworthy, but nope. It’s full of cliches too old to have effect, and child actors too young to have seen any movies. It’s horror for people who don’t know horror, and I can’t fault it for being good at that.
Sinister 2 | Directed by Ciarán Foy (USA 2015) with Scott Derrickson, C. Robert Cargill. Starts September 17