Tuesday, August 25, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: SINISTER II (2015)

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From IMDB:

Following the events from the first film, a different family; a mother and her 2 sons move into a rural house that's marked for death. When the deputy from the first film learns that this family is next in line to fall to the demon Bhughul, he races before time to stop it and save them from the same fate.

Rating: R (for strong bloody violence, bloody and disturbing images, and language)
Genre: Horror
Directed By: Ciaran Foy
In Theaters: Aug 21, 2015 Wide
US Box Office: $10.6M
Runtime: 1 hr. 30 min.
Focus Features - Official Site

OPENS IN MALAYSIA ON AUGUST 27th BUT FOR THE REST OF THE WORLD CHECK HERE TO FIND OUT WHEN IT COMES TO A CINEMA NEAR YOU. 

Meet Dylan and Zach, brothers who are on the run from an abusive father and soon to be playtoy to the supernatural. ©Focus

Three years on and I almost forgot that I saw the first one... 

So yeah, Sinister II comes three years after the first one and it being a horror/thriller movie which tends to look like every other movie in the genre my memory of these sort of movies tend to get mixed-up, they sometimes sort of blend in to each other. However, that being said, I do remember Sinister a little better than the others I've seen these past couple of years. I remember it had sort of an original twist if you could call it that. Investigative journalist who was once famous for writing about a gruesome homicide stumbles on a paranormal mystery while lying to his family about why they moved to their new home. At the end they all die. Which is sort of rare in horror movies these days I believe. 

So I thought that that would be the end of that horror movie franchise even if at the very end the Boogieman or Bughuul does make an appearance at the end. Well, of course I'm wrong. The one thing about movies in the horror/thriller genre is that if it receives even the slightest praise or achieves some measure of success there's bound to be a sequel or prequel. So this one here is sort of a sequel with a prequel feel in that in this one they tell the story from the kids point of view. Why the kids? Well, if you remember in the first one it was the kids that get possessed to kill their family for Bughuul before Bughuul takes them away. 

So I've sort of given a little bit of the movie away. BUT THERE'LL BE MORE SPOILERS FROM THIS POINT ON!! 

That pale boy there is Milo head-dead-child for Bughuul's child recruitment department. He's there to evaluate Dylan on whether he's a suitable candidate. ©Focus

The movie picks up a few years after the events of the first movie. The family of Ellison Oswalt is of course dead and their son never to be found so instead we meet Ex-Deputy So & So (James Ransone), yes that's his name given on IMDB and Wikipedia and in fact I don't remember his name being mentioned throughout the movie, and now that I think about it in the first movie everyone just called him Deputy. Which seems pretty sad actually. Two movies in and his character still doesn't get a name. Anyway, he's been let off the force since he was the only one in contact with Ellison and became the main suspect soon after the family's death but was cleared when they couldn't find any evidence tying him directly with their deaths. So now Mr. Ex-Deputy is moonlighting as a Private Investigator while he digs deeper into the mystery that caused the Oswalt's death. 

Meanwhile we meet Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two kids Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) whom we meet while shopping at the supermarket, mom's looking for groceries while the kids are playing around. As mom wonders up and down the aisle she spots a man looking at her, when she passes by him again he takes a picture of her. This panics her and immediately she tells the kids to make a run for it at her signal. The man tries to spot her but fails when he's stopped by the security guard. 

This is Courtney she's running from her abusive husband and while she's doing that has taken up restoring furniture she finds in abandoned places. ©Focus

Back home and safe mom asks the kids to prepare dinner by themselves while she finishes up some work which happens to take place right next door in an abandoned church. There are no other houses near theirs. As she works in there alone she hears noises behind the old altar and goes to check it out. She finds hidden behind some cloth a brass bowl. Just then Dylan shows up to tell her that dinner is ready. Dylan stands rigid at one spot not wanting to go any further despite his mother's questions about whether he's alright or not. Just as he leaves we see what Dylan sees, the floor beginning to pool with blood. Dylan heads back to the house with his mother in tow. 

Later that night Dylan is visited by a boy ghost named Milo who takes him downstairs to view a movie off an old super8 camera. The movies are of other families who were killed by one of the families children. This happens nightly to Dylan where with each night a new child passes a reel of the film that child made during their family's murder. Milo tells him he must watch them if he doesn't want to have anymore nightmares.

We don't have a name to call this man by. Here he is trying to burn down a house and wouldn't you know it people live there. ©Focus

The next day Mr Private Investigator shows up after tracing the pattern of cases similar to the cases that Ellison Oswalt found during his investigation for his book. Cases that he himself had once brought to Ellison. His intention is to burn the house and the crime scene in order to break the pattern. But instead he finds the kids in the front and has a confrontation with Courtney. After the air clears a bit they get to talking and Courtney tells them that she and the kids moved in after her friend told her that there was no one living on the property and that hardly anyone ever comes to the place. Mr Private Investigator brilliantly deduces that she's running from her husband who is abusive. He leaves but asks whether it is okay to return the next day in order to check out the place further. 

When he returns the next day and checks out the abandoned church he too hears strange noises behind the altar and goes to check it out. He spots the brass bowl on the floor, it moves. He tosses a piece of rock at it overturning the brass bowl revealing a rat underneath. As he approaches the brass bowl the light he was using to see malfunctions. In the dark Bughuul appears startling him. Then as he looks around again he sees a silhouette or shadow of child but when he points his torch at it it disappears. While he looks he receives a call from a Dr. Stomberg (Tate Ellington) who tells him that Prof. Jonas who once helped Ellison Oswalt has gone missing. He also tells Mr P.I. that he may have found something with regards to what he's currently looking for and that they have to meet. Mr. P.I. tells him he'll come by the next day. 

Every night Milo and his dead-kid committee invite Dylan down to the basement to watch home movies they've made. How this happens every night with a mother who's afraid of her abusive husband finding them not waking up is amazing. ©Focus

As he makes his way to his car a pick-up truck and two sheriff cars show up. It's Courtney's abusive husband. He's trying to take back the kids but fails when Mr. P.I. calls their bluff on not having the right authority and the paperwork to do it. After they leave Mr. P.I. tells her that she can't leave the house immediately as it would only benefit her husband if he takes it to court. Fearing for her family's safety Courtney asks if he wouldn't mind staying the night. That evening they get to know each other and develop feelings for each other. The next morning Mr. P.I. leaves to visit Dr Stomberg. 

At Dr Stomberg's office Mr P.I. is told that the case, the mystery he's trying to uncover has a much longer history. Back decades to the days before TV a mysterious radio signal was reportedly found by ham radio operators. Rumours spread for decades about the mysterious signal but then sometime in the 90's someone somehow managed to record it. The recording began with the sound of piano keys playing a melody which is then interrupted by the sound of a child's voice followed by screaming in the background. Dr Stomberg tells him that the language spoken is Danish and that the child is heard saying, 'mother, don't scream so loud. Bughuul can't hear with you screaming.' Just as their conversation tapers off the ham radio on Dr. Stomberg's table comes on and begins to repeat the last words spoken by Mr. P.I. He immediately leaves in search of Courtney and the kids. 

Dylan isn't afraid of the ghost kids but is afraid of Bughuul and he can't tell anyone because then his family will die. Rock and a hard place. ©Focus

Meanwhile, Courtney and the kids are back at their husbands home and about to have dinner. Mr. P.I. calls but Courtney doesn't answer. Her husband walks in and picks up her phone. Mr. P.I. receives a message not to call her back. Later that evening Mr. P.I. shows up at his front door to warn him that he and his family are in serious danger but instead of concern Courtney's husband dishes out punches and kicks and threatens to kill Mr. P.I. if he returns and also threatens to hurt Courtney too. 

The next day all seems well as the family is seen outside doing what families often do when it's a lovely day out but not with this family, Zach has an Super8 camera and begins to film the family from a far with the help of the other child spirits. Dylan while sitting near his mother sneaks away her phone to send Mr. P.I. a message asking for help. Zach moves away from the camera after setting it up and is seen on camera offering drinks to everyone. 

This is Dr Stomberg who is here to replace the Professor from the last movie who's decided not to be a part of the mess. ©Focus

Later that evening Zach has managed to nail his father, mother and brother to  crosses in the middle of a corn field and placed bags over their heads. He begins shooting with the Super8 camera again and the camera shows him lighting a fire underneath his father's cross. His father goes up in flames screaming. His mother and brother begin to rouse and immediately start screaming in panic. Just as Zach begins to light a fire underneath his mother's cross Mr. P.I. shows up in his truck and knocks Zach to the ground. He rushes out of his car and starts to bring down Courtney and Dylan. The moment they're down the run towards the house. Zach comes to soon and desperate to finish the job with the urging of the other dead children he runs after them. They get lost in the field and Zach manages to catch up to Mr. P.I. where his slashes him with a sickle and cuts off two of his fingers. But in the tussle Mr. P.I. still manages to get a few kicks in and runs with Courtney and Dylan to the house.

In the house they split up. Zach enters looking for them and the dead children help him search. The search ends in the living room where Zach corners Courtney and Dylan. With one hand holding the Super8 camera and the other still holding the sickle he prepares to finish the job he started but just then Mr. P.I. shows up and smashes the camera. With the camera gone Mr. P.I. tells Zach that it's over. But Zach doesn't give up even though the dead children tell him that he's failed Bughuul and that now Bughuul will be very mad. Zach ignores the children and runs up to the attic where the dead children gave him the camera along with the other equipment, he frantically goes through the case looking for a replacement. As he busies himself looking for it Bughuul shows up and puts his hand on Zach's shoulder. Zach slowly loses his life then disappears into the screen illuminated by the Super8 projector. As soon as Zach begins to fade from the screen his mother and brother and Mr. P.I. shows up but they're too late to save him as the screen burst into flames. The house goes up in flames too. 

That's Zach Dylan's replacement after Milo decided Dylan wouldn't be a good fit with the team. He's just checking he has all his office supplies. ©Focus

Later Mr. P.I. is back at his motel room packing up his things in order to get out of town but just as he's done and heading out the door he notices on the table a ham radio. The radio suddenly turns on and a voice is heard. Bughuul makes his appearance. 

The end. (Or that's basically what happened. My writing doesn't seem like the usual does it? I'm still high on meds...)

So was this movie a suitable follow up to the so-called sleeper-hit that some say Sinister was? 

Well, the movie has been out for about a week now in the US if I'm not mistaken and the reviews out for it aren't very good. If you took the time to read the info and ratings from IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes I've helpfully put for you up there you know that it's less than favorable. As I sat there watching it though I didn't really know what people have rated this movie and I didn't bother doing any research about this movie until I got home to write it. Upon looking up the ratings for this movie I'd have to say I share the general consensus. This movie isn't very good. It isn't very bad but it's far from good. 

Let's start with the story. It's predictable after you're introduced to the main characters which is about 10 minutes into the movie. Then it gets really sort of monotonous in its pacing. It feels like it crawls from scene to scene. You don't really get much highs or lows. The only twist worth noting is the fact that just when you're thinking one kid is being brainwashed turns out they were trying to get to the other kid the whole time which after you realize this and think back about what's happened before it happens seems like the writers couldn't be bothered to think up an interesting way to do it or to come up with an interesting way to get the kid that's holding out from being brainwashed to come to the other side. 

The only cool thing about this movie is the fact that you get to see an old Super8 Camera being used. ©Focus

The horror or scary bits are the usual stuff, jump scares, shadows, somewhat graphic death scenes every time a Super8 film is shown to Dylan. You are not going to get anything new in this department either. 

The acting? Well, the kids are not at all good so you end up not caring much whether they do end up under Bughuul's spell. The ghost kids are just as bad in fact Milo the head ghost kid is sort of annoying. Shannyn Sossamon isn't too bad I guess but her accent goes in and out throughout the film. Mr. P.I. lives up to his non-specific name in being sort of neither dull nor interesting. He's there more to just make sure things come together between what happened in the first film and what's happening currently to Courtney and the kids. If he wasn't there there would be less to watch. Maybe. 

The whole premise of this franchise is that kids are influenced by Bughuul to not only kill their family but record it as well. Which makes you think what are the parents thinking when suddenly their kid has a camera they've never bought and that he's decided to make family movies by hiding in the bushes. ©Focus

All-in-all as a sequel that tries to fill in the story of Bughuul and how he influences children to kill their family it isn't all that good. Yes you do get a few fillers, a few bits of information but it doesn't help in anyway to make the last movie more interesting or to give this movie a life of its own. That combined with a story that just isn't strong enough and all you have is a pathetic attempt at cashing in on what was a somewhat interesting movie. But I guess that's the thing about the horror genre these days, there's always someone out there that'll still get their scares watching this and not really think about it beyond the scares. 

So who should watch this movie? Well, certainly somewhat who's at or above the movie's R rating of course but beyond that? Maybe for those who are deathly curious as to how Bughuul gets the kids to do his dirty deed. If you weren't curious about it back when you were done watching the first one or were quite satisfied with how that one ended then you may not want to bother with this movie. For the horror/thriller fans there isn't anything new here that you haven't seen before either in the story or in the scares. I guess if you've actually seen everything playing in the cinemas or looking to put a little scare in your date or wife maybe you can consider this but be sure that who you're going with is easily scared otherwise you won't be getting  the response you were looking for. 

Bughuul or the Boogieman only shows up when things fall apart otherwise he likes to lurk in the background doing photobombs. Also he looks like a failed The Crow cosplay.  ©Focus

So with that I'm only going to give this movie a 2.2 out 5. A halfhearted attempt at cashing in on a movie that was somewhat successful three years ago with a predictable story told in a monotonous pace with uninspiring or even at all interesting performances by all. Have a look at the trailer and decide for yourself. 

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Sinister II is distributed in Malaysia by TGV Pictures so be sure to head on over to the TGV website to check out showtimes and to get your tickets.





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