Picking up where the first Sinister left off—with everyone dead, and Bughuul, a creepy pagan deity, consuming the souls of children—the sequel heads into Children Of The Corn territory, following Shannyn Sossamon as a mother of three who moves with her twin sons to a rural home that Bughuul has marked for death. James Ransone returns as the dim-but-committed Deputy So-And-So, who does the requisite triangulations.
Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, who wrote the extremely effective first film, return to script the sequel, but Derrickson passes directorial duties off to Ciarán Foy, who made his debut with the Scottish horror/thriller Citadel a few years ago. Ransone, best known for playing Ziggy Sobotka on The Wire, returns to bring potential comic relief to the grim, hard-R material. And celluloid returns as the format that used to be associated with the medium of cinema, but now functions as some creepy shit that might be found in an attic.
The trailer suggests a continuation of the first film’s slate-gray visual style and children-in-peril edginess, but a shift in focus to the possessed kids and perhaps an elevation of Bughuul as an evil force on par with horror icons like Freddy, Jason, or Jigsaw. Whether that strategy works is an open question, since the film has yet to be screened.
As chilling as Sinister was as a nasty scare machine, the key to its success were the performances by Ethan Hawke and Ransone—the former as a writer who puts his ego above his family’s well-being, and the latter as a dunce who lightens the mood. Only Ransone is back for Sinister 2, but adding a jester of his stature into the mix could go a long way toward making the film’s excesses palatable.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 4.5
It’s hard to follow up an effective, startling horror-thriller without falling into all the horror-sequel traps, and undermining the film in the process. Still, we’re curious, just like all those kids who keep wandering off and mysteriously disappearing.
Hitman: Agent 47
Remember the 2007 videogame adaptation Hitman? No? Maybe that’s just as well, since nobody seemed to like it. Eight years later, the series makes another bid for the big screen with Hitman: Agent 47, which takes the titular bald, barcode-outfitted assassin out of cold storage and sends him on another mission of love. Or killing. Plot details remain unclear at this point.
Hitman: Agent 47 was initially set to star Paul Walker. After his death, the role was passed to Rupert Friend, who most recently played a stealth agent of a different sort on Homeland. The Polish-born Aleksander Bach, best known for his commercial work, makes his feature directorial debut with the film. There’s also a Hong Kong star named Angelababy in the cast.
It was supposed to come out in the traditional dead zone of late February. Instead it will be released in the traditional dead zone of late August.
Sometimes when a director steps in from the world of commercials or music videos, you get a Ridley Scott. Most of the time, you don’t. Which camp Bach will fall into remains to be seen.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 2.7
Seriously, that first Hitman movie was really dire, even for a videogame movie.
Emma Watson plays Angela Gray, a young woman whose father is accused of molesting her. But when detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke) investigates, he finds the case is much bigger than he could have imagined, and may involve black magic, evil rituals, and all manner of creepy business.
Director Alejandro Amenábar inspired Vanilla Sky with his promising 1997 feature Abre Los Ojos, made a big splash with the 2001 supernatural smash The Others, and followed up with the less commercially successful but also acclaimed The Sea Inside. Hawke has emerged as an actor of some prestige as well. When we were all laughing at his novels and his stupid goatee in Reality Bites, we never could have guessed he’d be a four-time Oscar nominee while still in his 40s.
There isn’t much, beyond the international and domestic trailer, but they look spooky as hell, and Amenabar is a steady hand at delivering the scares.
Could the child-molestation angle turn people off? Unless handled delicately, it could come off as crass and distasteful.
ANTICIPATION RATING: 6.2
Everything else aside, Amenábar has been a reliable force for interesting, unusual films, and that alone makes this one worth anticipating.