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“SICCIN 2” (IIFFF Movie Review)

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It makes for a hell of a trailer, but if you’ve seen the widely posted preview for SICCIN 2, you’ve seen all the good parts (and if you’ve watched it with subtitles, you’ve had most of the plot reveals spoiled).

A Turkish horror film that just had its international premiere at the Ithaca International Fantastic Film Festival, SICCIN 2 doesn’t appear to require prior knowledge of the first SICCIN, whose title translates to “Book of Sins” (suggesting each movie is and possibly will be a different “chapter”). The sequel’s introductory minutes inform us that its story is inspired by actual events in and around the Issiz Cuma cemetery, where separate plots have inexplicably joined together—which is a pretty accurate description of SICCIN 2 itself.

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With its digital-video cinematography that sometimes looks like video and histrionic acting, SICCIN 2 suggests a supernatural telenovela in a different language and with sporadic gore added. The melodrama is kicked off by the sudden, tragic, shocking (and, depending on your frame of mind, appallingly hilarious) death of a baby named Birol, which shatters the happy marriage of his parents, Hicran (Seyda Terzioglu) and Adnan (Bulut Akkale). That moment sets a high bar for outrageousness that the rest of the film can’t match, no matter how much blood and sudden flashes of possessed/deranged faces director Alper Mestci throws at us.

For the most part, though, the script by Mestci and Ersan Ozer concerns itself with hand-wringing and grieving over poor deceased Birol and other crises, doling out the gross-outs in only occasional short bursts typically not much longer than those seen in that trailer. Nightmares and waking visions lead Hicran to believe she’s being afflicted by the supernatural, and she seeks the counsel of a holy man named Abdullah (Yavuz Cetin, giving the movie’s best performance). From there, she follows a trail that leads to an abandoned, “possessed” house and the gradual parceling out of dark secrets from her family past. Eventually, one character decides the mystery has gone on long enough and steps forward to deliver lengthy exposition intended to tie together the bits of horrific imagery that have been scattered throughout the preceding hour and change.

The storyline never coheres in a satisfying manner, though, and SICCIN 2 ends up being a grab bag of plot devices and scary stuff familiar from other movies. Once in a while, Mestci throws in a specific reference to a past film (Adnan, a hotel clerk, is seen giving a guest the key to Room 237), but for the most part, he recycles generic tropes from THE EXORCIST through J-horror and onward, and those in-your-face horrific moments that pack such a punch when crammed together in the trailer become diluted when spread out amongst a been-there-seen-that narrative. SICCIN 2 never becomes a chore to sit through, and lands a few jolts amidst well-caught local atmosphere, but as a representative product from an emerging foreign genre-film scene, it doesn’t explore any especially distinctive or interesting ground. Really, the best way to experience it can be seen below, if you haven’t already…

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.
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