In 2012’s Sinister, director/co-writer Scott Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill set up a truly creepy premise based around horrifying home movies, murdered families, missing children and a demonic being known as Bughuul. On Sinister 2, Derrickson has turned the directing reins over to Ireland’s Ciaran Foy (The Citadel), while he and Cargill came up with a way to extend the mythology they created in the first film.
The new film features many of the elements that distinguished the first entry — including those squirm-inducing home movies — as a single mother (Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin sons find themselves next on Bughuul’s hit list. Screen Rant sat down with Cargill (which is also how he likes to be addressed) and Foy to discuss the challenges of making a sequel to one of the more original horror movies of the last few years.
Cargill, what was the challenge in coming up with a second story and moving this along?
Robert Cargill: Well, the big trick was not doing what everybody expected, because everybody expected the movie to be about a new family moving into the same house, and then watching them for an hour as they try to figure out what all the scary things are while the audience is sitting there going, “We already know what this is, why are we watching this again? Get to the stuff we haven’t seen before.” So the trick, the real challenge, was coming up with a story that no one was expecting, and unfolding the mythology and answering the questions that we didn’t answer in the first film — many of those questions being what people don’t even realize hadn’t been answered in the first film.
And so the challenge was coming up with a first 10 pages that told the audience, while they were just sitting there in the first 10 minutes of the movie, that had them go, “Oh wow, I have no idea how to stop Bughuul. Like, I saw the first film and I thought I knew everything, but I don’t.” And now we have an audience that’s caught up with our protagonist and a protagonist that’s caught up with our audience, and now we’re going into a new story that nobody’s sure which direction it’s taking. And that was the real challenge, was trying to come up with that story.
Ciaran, what attracted you to the material? Your first film is about feral children and this one is about ghost children, so is there something compelling to you about working with children in these contexts?
Ciaran Foy: Well, I think what led to Scott sort of finding me for the project was the fact that I’d worked with kids before, so I think, you know, having got some sort of fetish for horror kids (laughs) — I’m not gonna make a trilogy of horror kids films, but maybe I will —
Cargill: Maybe you should!
Foy: Maybe I should, yeah!
Cargill: Demon kids — I’m just throwing that out there.
Foy: Exactly, I like it. But I think, you know, what surprised me about the project was — sort of alluding to what Cargill said there — was the fact that this showed me a brand new side to things that were presumably happening in the background of the first movie. And I thought that seeing these two boys, these twins, and taking the story from their perspective, and personifying the ghost kids — all that kind of stuff was what I found really appealing and different and fresh, and I think, yeah, that was a big draw for me.
When you get around to making up the home movies again, how difficult is it to come up with new creative ways to slaughter people?
Cargill: Well, I mean, it wasn’t as challenging because of the way Scott and I did it. On the first film, we had written the script without putting what the actual films were on our first draft. And so at the end of the first draft, I was like, “I’ve got to go back and do that.” So I sat up one night with two pots of coffee and wrote down a list of the 24 most diabolical, horrific ways that children could kill their parents. And then I passed that list to Scott the next day, and he and I whittled it down to six — five of which appear in the movie. We ended up cutting one, which is now in the second film.
So second time around, I was like, “How am I gonna do this?” Exactly what you’re asking — how do you do that? I was like, “I know, I’ll ask Scott to do it this time.” And so Scott made the list, and then he sent it to me and we whittled it down. So if we have to do a third film, I don’t know how we’re gonna come up (laughs) — because we’ve already rejected three dozen of these. So where do we go from there? We’ll see.
Foy: Make it a competition on Twitter.
Cargill: Oh yeah! Let’s crowdsource evil. But I mean, it was challenging to come up with that list to begin with, so thankfully Scott took the reins on this one and came up with just some really evil, sadistic stuff. It’s always great working with a partner, especially someone who’s really talented and continually surprises you. It’s just so great where it’s like, “Oh hey, my name’s gonna be on this, ‘cause that was awesome.” But yeah, it was a delightful challenge.
Sinister 2 is out in theaters August 21.