The desultory “Sinister 2” (Gramercy) uses a seldom noted, yet deeply irksome piece of contemporary horror film bric-a-brac: the inevitable cameo by a Catholic priest.
Vicious caricatures of the clergy and sacrilegious portrayals of religious practice have become commonplace in chiller plots. So the opening visit of this flick’s hero, So & So (yes, that really is his name) to a confessional booth suggests we’re off to a bad start.
“Do you want my professional opinion?” the cleric rumbles. “You don’t stop evil. You can only protect yourself from it.”
Oh, a platitude. Not so bad.
The priest, it seems, is only there to enunciate the theme in a movie that merely samples religious imagery intermittently. Happily for all concerned, having done so, he doesn’t reappear.
The franchise’s bogeyman, a hulking white-faced pagan deity named Bughuul (Nicholas King), likes to lure children into killing their families in elaborately gruesome ways. Bughuul also enjoys documenting these deaths with a vintage home movie camera.
Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) has fled her violent husband Clint (Lea Coco), moving with her young twins, Dylan (Robert Daniel Sloan) and Zach (Dartanian Sloan), to an abandoned parsonage.
Naturally, the basement is haunted, and the shuttered church on the property — the venue for one of Bughuul’s mass murders a few years earlier — is crawling with the ghosts of children.
These unsuitable playmates try to convince first the sensitive Dylan, and then Zach, to do Bughuul’s bidding, even showing them footage of their own past misdeeds.
The finale involves crucifixion imagery in a cornfield. This has less to do with religious allegory than with the well-established fact that there are only so many ways for a demon to dispose of his victims on a limited budget.
The film contains a vengeance theme, frequent violence — much of it involving children, numerous disturbing images as well as considerable profanity and rough language. (L, R)