James Ransome played the unnamed deputy who survived the mayhem of “Sinister,” but lost his job over trying to save the family headed by a writer who has stumbled into a cache of supernaturally murderous home movies.
So he’s the lead in “Sinister 2,” now a nameless ex-deputy traveling the land, looking for houses where mass murders have occurred and burning them down. He’s stopping the chain of events, he thinks, that lead to those home movies.
And to his credit, Ransome never lets on that he’s in a sequel so aimless that they didn’t even care to give his character a name.
He isn’t tough and he’s certainly not fearless. The ex-deputy sees ghosts, feels the rage of an evil presence and lets us see the fear. But by golly, he’s got a mission and a purpose. He doesn’t let that stop him. Ransome gives this guy a humanity and beguiling awkwardness that are more than this quick-and-dirty knockoff deserve.
The awkwardness comes into play when he comes to a house, with a deconsecrated church out back, and the lovely Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) is living there with her two little boys. She’s hiding out from her ex, who has his finger in every corner of this rural Indiana county. The ex-deputy stops shivering in fear at the apparitions he sees in that tumbledown church and helps her out of a child custody confrontation.
Courtney’s sensitive son (Robert Daniel Sloan) sees dead children. They talk to him, play old 78 rpm records in the basement and make him watch snuff films — families murdered by electrocution, beheaded by alligators, burned on crosses.
The ghost-kids need Dylan to watch these. Perhaps they expect him to grow up into Eli Roth.
The scares are few and far between, here. The most frightening moment — mom, grabbing the boys and fleeing a supermarket where the locals have her cornered — is a result of a messy divorce, not the intervention of the supernatural.
“Sinister 2” has so little connection to the first film (save for the home movies) that if you see enough horror movies, you will strain to recall the original. There’s no Hawke here (he’s since pulled an Oscar nomination for “Boyhood”) to job our memories, and little hint that a better movie inspired this one.
But Ransome, last seen in “Tangerine,” gives his character humor and a hint of pathos — fair value, in other words. Let’s hope that he, like Hawke, is in a position to not have to show up for “Sinister 3.”
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, bloody and disturbing images, and language
Cast: James Ransome, Shannyn Sossamon, Robert Daniel Sloan
Credits: Directed by Ciarán Foy , script by Diablo Cody. A release.
Running time: 1:37