|Review by Sharon Knolle|
Bughuul is back in the disappointing sequel to 2012’s Sinister, that written, but not directed, by the first film’s writers.
While the first film was genuinely terrifying – up to a point – the sequel gets by on a few jump scares and upping the gore on the killings the demon inspires his child followers to commit. And we see far too much of Bughuul for him to remain a figure of terror.
This time, Deputy So & So (James Ransone) is an ex-deputy: He was, naturally, a prime suspect in the slaying of crime writer Ellison Oswald (Ethan Hawke) and family since he was the only one seen coming and going before they were all horribly butchered.
Now he goes from murder house to murder house, burning them down before the evil cycle of killings can begin again.
His plan is foiled when he finds a family living in one of the supposedly abandoned houses.
Courtney Collins (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin boys Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan) are hiding out from her abusive husband and staying on the site of one of the most gruesome killings yet. When she asks the Deputy how the family died, he tells her, “You don’t want to know.” (He’s right: While the previous slayings we see have become excessively dumb rather than disturbing – Crocodiles? Really? – death by rats is truly disturbing.)
In the meantime, Bughuul’s murderous acolytes are trying to recruit Dylan to off his family by showing him their own home movies, but – guess what – Zach can see them too.
My biggest issue with the first film was a frequent misstep in horror movies: That we saw the ghosts when the main character doesn’t. With their posturing around Hawke as he sensed something was amiss, they became ridiculous, rather than scary. Having this batch of ghost kids play an active part in recruiting the next murderer feels like another misstep as we see too much of them.
We also discover that Bughuul’s been up to his tricks since at least the ’70s, thanks to a professor who’s going through Professor Jonas (Vincent D’Onofrio)’s things. (Jonas is “missing,” a convenient way to excuse D’Onofrio’s bowing out of what was already a very undemanding, uncredited role.)
Ransone, the comic relief in the first film, is still funny here and he’s immensely likable. You start to wish he and Sossamon were in a different, better film, one that wasn’t bound to the increasingly silly Bughuul legend. The opening scene, in which clueless non-Catholic Ransone consults a priest, is well-written, with a knowing nod that they’re all in a horror film. And having the family in danger already be one that’s highly volatile helps ratchet up the suspense in some clever ways, but that doesn’t offset the fact that this boogie man has lost his power to scare.
If this sequel makes money, I’m sure Blumhouse will trot him out again with even sillier murders.