Come August 21st, Bughuul will be at it again, terrorizing another family that moved into the wrong home. But, this time around, we get to see the horror play out from the kids’ perspective. Sinister 2 takes place after the events of the first film. Deputy So & So (James Ransone) is no longer a deputy and spends his time doing what he can to ensure Bughuul can’t strike again. Trouble is, nine-year-old twins Dylan and Zach (Robert Daniel and Dartanian Sloan) and their mother Courtney (Shannyn Sossamon) move into Bughuul’s next target before he can stop them.
Ciarán Foy directed the sequel, but Scott Derrickson came back to co-pen the script and produce so in honor of the upcoming release, I got the chance to hop on the phone with him to discuss expanding the Bughuul mythology. Check out what he told me about developing the sequel story idea, whether or not that idea was in play when he made the first movie, possibilities for future installments and more in the interview below.
Question: Can you tell me a little bit about coming up with the story for the sequel? Did you always know that you wanted to tell it from the kids’ perspective?
SCOTT DERRICKSON: I don’t think we always knew it. Once [C. Robert] Cargill, my writing partner, once he and I got serious about doing it, we pretty quickly determined that that was probably the only way that we could do a sequel to Sinister unless we were gonna essentially just make the same movie that we made in the first one with a different family. The idea was to show something that actually happened in the first film but that you never got to see and kind of build the story around that. But also to bring back the Deputy So & So character played by James Ransone. Audiences seemed to like him. I think that was something we decided pretty early on. But we also decided that we didn’t feel like it would be that interesting to get into his backstory or try to spend much time getting to know more about him, but rather get him involved with a new character that we would get invested in and get to know, which is the Courtney character.
Did you consider the kids’ perspective much while you were making the first movie?
DERRICKSON: Yeah, for sure, because we knew that that was going to be the reveal in the end and the fact that this was happening all along was always on my mind because in some ways what the first movie is about how an ambitious, self-centered husband and father is willing to neglect and abandon and lie to and essentially bring corruption into his own family because he’s so fearful about losing his success. He’s so scared of losing his own success because of failure and so his child becomes a monster. I always thought that was interesting and the process of what exactly happened to Ashley was always really interesting to think about because as it’s revealed at the end of the first movie, she had seen all of these kill films. She had been seduced by this child eater Bughuul. That felt scary to me, that feels like a scary reality, and so to be able to tell a similar story but from that point of view, I knew would bring certainly a fresh perspective and hopefully one that’s scary and satisfying.
This is a pretty geeky question, but seeing what happens to the brothers in the sequel made me wonder, do you think Trevor from the first film ever got to see any of this?
DERRICKSON: I think I had this conversation once with – I’ll tell you what’s really weird, I had completely forgotten about this and maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me like Cargill and I had a conversation about this while we were making Sinister once about, why Ashley? Did they both see the film? And we talked about the possibility of doing a sequel if the kids would be young enough, if we did it right away we could do a movie about that, about how they had both seen it and one of them sort of fell into it and one of them didn’t. I vaguely remember that and that was probably the roots of our conversations that led to Sinister 2, so what do I think? I think yeah, there’s a really good chance that he was exposed to some of it, but was just like, ‘We shouldn’t be doing this.’ He backed away and wanted nothing to do with it.
How about the kill films? Is it tough coming up with those ideas or do you have some insanely long list of twisted ideas lying around somewhere?
DERRICKSON: I just have an insanely morbid, sick mind, I think. It’s fun to come up with them and not particularly hard. It was not the hardest part of writing that screenplay by any means. You know, it’s a pretty simple trick really, taking a good look at common domesticated environments and finding ways to contaminate them with supernatural murder. Once you realize that that’s really what you’re doing, it’s the juxtaposition of the creative violence with the normalcy of the environment that kind of makes those films what they are. What can we do in a house? What if it’s a house re-model, which everybody’s lived through. Okay, let’s electrocute some people. Once you’ve got that, you can write that scene. It’s not as hard as you’d think, at least not for us.
I know you probably don’t want to go ahead of yourself, but you do open up the possibility of Bughuul having an international presence. Have you given any thought to taking the series overseas in a future installment?
DERRICKSON: No, but that’s a good idea, and if we do that you can say that you were the first one to say it. [Laughs]
That I will!
DERRICKSON: We haven’t had any conversations about Sinister 3 yet. We try not to get too ahead of ourselves. I hope there’s a Sinister 3, but we’ll have to see how Sinister 2 does first.
How about the discussions of how much to show Bughuul? When the sequel was announced, I was worried that the thought process might be, the only way to make it scarier is to show more of him whereas you should probably strike a balance between showing him more than the first movie but not too much.
DERRICKSON: It’s 100% an issue of balance. I think we’ve all seen multiple movies that fall on both wrong sides of that balance. On the one hand, you can cut that franchise character out or cut him down so much and make the movie so much about something else that people who are paying to see the sequel aren’t satisfied because they didn’t get enough of what they paid to see. They came to see Bughuul and some kill films, that’s what Sinister was. But at the same time, and I think the more common tendency is to show too much and to expand the mythology in a way that demystifies the character or to show the character’s presence so much that it demystifies the character and once the character’s demystified, it’s not scaring you anymore. So you have to not do the exact same thing, you have to expand the mythology somewhat, but you can’t do [that] so much so that the audience is still left with questions and a sense of mystery about that franchise character.
Absolutely. Before we have to wrap up, I must squeeze in a question about Doctor Strange. I’m a big fan of your work as a horror filmmaker so I was wondering, can we expect to see any horror elements in that film?
DERRICKSON: Oh gosh, I wish I could answer questions about Doctor Strange, but I just can’t. I just really am sworn to secrecy. If I say anything, a sniper bullet will pierce the window and go right into my skull.
So does that mean you don’t have a cinematographer anymore?
DERRICKSON: [Laughs] That is 100% no comment! I do still have my cinematographer and he is absolutely awesome. But yeah, that’s very funny.