LIKE Sinister, Sinister 2 also involves someone watching 8mm or homemade movies of murders. There's not much horror in this sequel, except at the tailend, in which I found the cat-and-mouse game intriguing. Little blood is spilled, and most of the gruesome acts is seen on the blurry 8mm films.
What I found interesting, however, is the family dynamics of the single mum and her two sons living in a farmhouse next to an abandoned church that was the scene of a mass murder.
Early on, we see harried mum Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her two boys Dylan and Zachary (played by real-life brothers Robert Daniel Sloan and Dartanian Sloan) fleeing a private investigator.
Courtney has just obtained temporary custody of her two sons from her influential husband Clint (Lea Coco), but he's desperate to get them back.
He tracks them down to the farmbouse, but his use a state trooper to trick Courtney into surrendering their sons to him is thwarted by a former sheriff's deputy, who uses his knowledge of the law to foil Clint. I found this an interesting scene as it showed an attempted subterfuge based on law, which, irregardless if it's true, suggests to audiences that there's more to this film than meets the eye.
There are several ties that make this film engrossing: Courtney and Clint, Courtney and the ex-deputy sheriff, Courtney and the two boys, the two boys and Clint, and the ex-deputy sheriff and Clint.
The two boys have special powers: they can see dead people. Dylan is compelled by murdered dead kids to watch homemade videos of gruesome murders in the basement (the subconscious) at night. He doesn't want to, but a dead kid, Milo (Lucas Jade Zumann), forces him to do so, telling him that Bughuul (Nicolas King), whose name is more frightening than what it looks like, will come after him.
Courtney's an antique restorer who finds solace in the abandoned church. She doesn't know what had happened there, but the ex-sheriff's deputy does. He's a friend of the writer who was the protagonist in the first film, and has made it his goal to destroy sites where Bughuul may have left his mark.
Courtney's fearful of losing her kids, but she's also kind and strict with them.
Their dad, however, is a real mean case. One of the boys wets his pants when the father goes to their house to get them. He's got a terrible temper and the scene where he forces food down his son's throat is shocking, and is the most frightening moment in the film.
In fact, in this film, it's Clint who's the real monster. He will stop at nothing to get what he wants (he wants his family back, even if he has to drag them by their hair).
The ex-sheriff's deputy, who has taken a liking to Courtney, reveals that he, too, was abused by his dad. In this film, it's the dads who are the threats.
2½ out of 5 stars
One of the murders in the homemade movies shows someone putting a rat in a pot and tying it upside-down on each victim. The rat chews its way out through the victim.
I have seen something similar in another film or may have read about it. By chance, I'm reading Introduction to Freud: A Graphic Guide. In it, Freud talks about the Rat Man (1907-1909).
The Rat Man, 29, said: "Last summer, a fellow officer told me about a Chinese torture. A pot is filled with rats and tied upside-down on the victim's buttocks. The rats then gnaw their way out through the anus ... The idea horrified and fascinated me."