Sinister 2 Set Visit Report; Interviews with Scott Derrickson, James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Ciaran Foy, and More!


On an especially warm, humid day last August, a van transported a handful of journalists to the west side of Chicago, headed to Studio City (the same facility which has been a host to productions like Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Grudge 2, and Transformers 3 to name a few) to get an in-depth look at Sinister 2. Excitement permeated the air as we pulled up and were greeted by a surprise just beyond the gate: “Bughuul Productions, LLC.” We were home.

Sinister 2 (the long-awaited sequel to Scott Derrickson’s 2012 chiller) is currently set to release August 21, 2015. Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill have returned as writers while Ciarán Foy (Citadel) takes on the role of director. Shannyn Sossamon (“Wayward Pines,” Wristcutters: A Love Story, Catacombs) portrays a mother intent on protecting her 9-year-old twin boys (played by twin brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan) against all forces – human or supernatural – no matter what the cost. James Ransone (“The Wire,” Generation Kill, In a Valley of Violence) reprises his role from the original film, and of course, Bughuul (Nicholas King) is back for more evil hijinks.

The first order of business once inside Studio City was to check out a scene the crew had been busy filming before our arrival. Access to this particular scene was granted via headphones and a small monitor. Shannyn (“Courtney”) was questioning her character’s sons about an incident at a church as they brushed their teeth in the restroom. “Everyone knows,” one boy mysteriously replied. She continued on to mention a man who was the “friend of a writer working on a book,” seeming to be completely unaware that Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke’s character in Sinister) is presumably dead. After she exits, the other brother repeats her question about the church. Upset, the child being interrogated storms off. This scene raised a few questions and curiosity levels.

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A while later, the cast and crew stopped to take a break. To my surprise, we were invited to join them for a tasty, healthy lunch in an open seating area. I sat with a full table of friendly crew members, quietly listening to them chatting animatedly about their day and random shop talk. What felt like six minutes later, we were called back to return to the dark, foreboding world of Sinister 2. Standing from below the soundstage, we watched a nighttime scene being filmed live in one of the boys’ bedrooms. A group of children whose faces were painted in ghostly makeup were all sorted in a circle around the bed, closely surrounding the boy as he slept. Upon the director’s cue, they leaned in toward him (this scene was revealed in theatrical trailers) and appeared to be shushing him, but it was hard to tell from where I was standing behind all the cameras.

The vibe on set was noticeably serious – so quiet, you would feel bad for a pin if it were to drop – it was immediately apparent Sinister 2’s tone is intended to feel just as chilling as the original film’s mood. It makes sense to have the tone on set reflect the tone within the film. This was especially impressive since there were so many kids on the set. Enough to fill a classroom! It’s extremely hard to get children to behave when grouped together. These young professionals could teach some adults a thing or two. However, it must be mentioned that there was also a lot of joking around on the set. Filming a disturbing horror film can be a lot of fun if everyone is happy. Actor James Ransone had us all cracking up quite a bit during the Q&A.


At one point (either right before or after the conference), Scott Derrickson invited us to climb up onto the soundstage into a small area staged to look like the room inside a church. Great detail had gone into choosing the props. The items on the desk alone made it feel as if we were trespassing into someone’s private space. We walked around this portion of the set and through a few small hallway areas.

The roundtable interviews consisted of meeting with James Ransone (reprising his role from Sinister), Shannyn Sossamon (portraying the mother), Ciaran Foy (director), and Scott Derrickson (writer, producer), which lasted just short of a half hour, as they needed to get back to filming more scares. We only had time for 1-2 questions each but were graciously given quite a bit of juicy, pertinent information during that time.

*Please note that information from this point on may contain information that–while freely given to us to write about–may feel like spoiler territory to anyone that would prefer no extra input.

At the time of the press conference, they were on Day 4 of a 30-day shoot. The film was shot in Chicago, though Derrickson said he’d had his hometown area of Colorado in mind as far as the rural feel, which all appears the same as in the first film. Chronology-wise, this story takes place a few years after the events of the first film, as James Ransone’s character (literally credited as “So & So”) is no longer a deputy for undisclosed reasons. James jokingly added, “Yeah, they aged me like 65 years. I got to sit through 2-1/2 hours of makeup.” (He also humorously referred to his star-struck character as inspired by “a version of the ‘Chris Farley Show’ on ‘SNL.’”)

When asked about the found footage/Super 8 aspect one would expect to be a big part of the sequel, Derrickson was reserved about giving too much away. Obviously, this aspect will be incorporated, as the kill films are such a big part of the Sinister franchise, but his comments implied there are other methods Bughuul can use to “create homicides through art.” Intriguing!

The story is different this time around, with a focal point being on the children’s point of view as well as delving deeper into the mythology behind Bughuul. Ciarán was a great choice to bring on to direct, as he’s got experience working with kids and the ability to create a strong sense of tension. Derrickson said he’d researched many films to find directors that fall into the necessary criteria of being able to make a movie work on a low-budget level, preferably to have worked with children on a set, and to be able to “create horror tension with an emphasis on performance.” He also really felt that Ciarán had a wonderful balance of humility while still being creatively confident as a director, stating that it’s difficult to find someone who has both of those traits.

Derrickson also expressed relief after watching Ciarán direct over the previous four days: “Watching Ciarán work like he knows what he’s doing and watching rehearsals and takes, and I feel so badly,” he says. “My first instinct is to go run in there and say, ‘You should do this and this,’ but most of the time I sit there,” he continues, “and then, within the next two takes, he’s done the exact thing that I would want to do, and every time I see that happen, it gives me confidence that he’s the right guy.” (Interestingly, Ciarán stated that Twitter brought him and Scott Derrickson together! Never underestimate the power of online networking.)

Since the Sinister franchise seems to have so many different stories to tell, I decided to inquire about any plans regarding a trilogy. “Sure, yeah. I’d like there to be 10 of them!” Scott Derrickson cheerfully responds. “But it really depends on how this turns out and how it does. The reason the script took so long was because both Cargill and I have seen so many horror franchises… We’re really familiar with how they tend to work and what the bad tendencies are. So we were both really committed to writing the kind of horror sequel we would like to see, and that proved to be a lot more difficult than I think either of us were expecting.

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He further reveals a wiser outlook on how to properly treat a sequel, “We threw out more large chunks of writing on this script than anything I’ve done in my career, probably, just because it just felt like if we were going to do it, we had to hold ourselves up to that kind of standard. And the trick of it was finding a different point of view to get into it because the horror sequels that I have really liked tend to expand the mythology, but also kind of deepen your appreciation of the original in unique ways that give you elements that you loved from the first one, but they also will surprise you. You connect with it, but [it’s] not imitative.

It’s refreshing to see the hard work these filmmakers are putting into building upon the mythology of Bughuul instead of taking the easy way out, which would be to repeat the same elements as in the original film. They didn’t want to just have another house with another box. They wanted to use a different angle while still keeping the main components that made Sinister work so well in the first place. As with any sequel, it’s like walking a tightrope. While the territory is familiar, you still have to have a game plan and be ready for any possible missteps. It sounds like a lot of thought was put into the story, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

In the case of Sinister 2, a woman is hiding out from her extremely abusive, powerful husband and trying hard to keep her kids away from him. She’s more concerned about real world horrors, and the boys are dealing with their own struggles. “I was attracted to it as I’d done a couple of horror films and really didn’t ever want to do one again because they were draining,” Shannyn Sossamon commented. “It was really attractive to me because it was like a drama. The mom’s going through something very real… I think there is something deep besides the box.

When questioned about the church location (as seen in the scene we were shown on the monitor), Derrickson wasn’t able to go into specifics but mentioned its inspiration was taken from an old red church in his Colorado hometown. This building was connected to a supposedly haunted monastery which rested atop a hill overlooking his school in the valley. He’d had nightmares about it as a youngster, adding, “I remember Halloween when people would hang bodies up in the spire…

James Ransone adds, “Without giving anything away, I think it’s pretty obvious… My obsession picks up where Ethan’s ends,” he says. “I think a lot of it is what first starts like a guilty conscience actually becomes… trying to correct some mistakes of the past.” He continues, “Shannyn’s story is actually grounded in reality… so there’s this supernatural element that’s sort of running parallel to that. It’s secondary to what her stakes as a character are.

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Scott sends us off with extra disclosure and hints galore: “Just think about the end of Sinister because one of our starting points was that his character, who we invest so much time in, is the one character in the movie that doesn’t really quite have closure because he kind of cracks everything at the end.” He continues, “He’s the one who calls and says, ‘Oh, my god, I’ve figured this out,’ and he has that phone call. He’s pieced things together and then we know what unfolds after that, but we don’t get to see what it means to him.” Derrickson further expresses, “What would that do to somebody like that, who had been that invested in trying to stop it and trying to call… That was a starting point for us, to take seriously the emotional life of that character the audiences love that we are invested in, and we’re definitely picking up there.




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