<b>TINKER, TAILOR, STONER, SPY:</b> John Leguizamo (left) cameos as a pathetic doper opposite Jesse Eisenberg as a stoner sleeper agent in the blood-soaked satire <i>American Ultra</i>.

If you love watching families being tortured, have I got a movie for you! In Sinister 2, a mother and twin sons move into an accursed farm house and become witness to some vintage family footage of the violently-permanent-vacation variety. The two boys (played by brothers Robert Daniel and Dartanian Sloan) begin an ongoing friendship with the resident ghosts of the house, with one boy even joining a basement film club of sorts where he watches home videos of these torture sequences with a fun gang of necrotic youngsters.

For its thematic seed, Sinister 2 builds on the horrors of the child’s imagination. The film club’s leader is a shadowy spirit bully named Bughuul, returning from the first Sinister to pop up as the in-house murder maestro and all-around spontaneous guy. But he’s more of an occasional spook and something of a wasted character, jumping to jar us here and there while letting most the horror revolve around the spools of snuff film depicting his work.

Problem is, when you base a horror movie around a subset of horror films watched within the characters’ world by otherwise unharmed children, it’s not that scary. It’s instead a mildly entertaining meta-commentary about our generational re-enactment of bloody recreation. We as viewers are at a layer of healthy remove from the carnage, knowing securely neither we, nor the boys, nor their undead friends are in any way at risk of dying — at least, not immediately. In its way, Sinister 2 is like a Stephen King story (like “Children of the Corn,” perhaps), more fantastical than truly frightful, and the torture scenes have a nice surreal macabre aestheticism that’s, well, kind of fun.

Also fun is the winsome James Ransone, reprising his role as Deputy So-and-So, and the buzz-sawing and gagging static-based music/sound design. While overall it’s not especially good, Sinister 2 is cool in its way for portraying the morbid reaches of the child psyche and its creative kill scenes. It’s the ideal movie for the (hopefully) small demographic that craves repeated simulations of mildly disturbing family torment with ghoulish overtures.


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