Producer Jason Blum and Others Talk About the Horrors of ‘Sinister 2’

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Jason Blum may not be a household name to casual movie fans. But odds are that if you’ve seen a horror film over the past 10 years, you’ve likely encountered one of his multiple productions – Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and most recently Sinister. Picking up after 2012’s Sinister, which was itself a clever little play on the found footage subgenre, Sinister 2 sees Irish filmmaker Ciarán Foy taking over the director’s chair from Scott Derrickson, who is currently hard at work on Doctor Strange. Foy is directing a script by Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, a writer who used to write for Ain’t It Cool News. I recently got to sit down with Blum, Cargill, Foy, and one of the stars of Sinister 2, Shannyn Sossamon, at a hotel in West Hollywood to discuss the film.

It’s been a busy year for Jason Blum and his Blumhouse Productions. Sinister 2 will be their seventh release of the year. He walks into the room with a wide smile and the enthusiasm of someone who has produced seven successful films in a year. Say what you will about his films, you can’t call into question the sincerity of his enthusiasm. “Did you see I have my own Twitter account now?” Blum asks the collected journalists before taking a picture of us all and tweeting it out in the ether.

“We don’t think about sequels on the original,” Blum says of their methods for developing sequels. “On the sequels, we always think about what’s next. Because once you have a two, the chances of a three are much higher.”

But Blum and company handle their approach to horror sequels differently than typical Hollywood fashion. “First, we put a lot of emphasis on involving the people who created the original,” Blum explains. “I really believe that if the creator of the first movie has any interest at all in the second movie – A) he should be fairly compensated for that, and B) he should really be encouraged. There’s a kind of tradition in Hollywood, especially in horror, ‘Oh, now we got the [intellectual property], let’s give it to someone else we can hire for cheap.’ We don’t do that.”


While Blum was able to retain Derrickson and Cargill as writers on Sinister 2, the sequel is helmed by Ciarán Foy, who has made one previous feature, 2012’s Citadel. “It was kind of nerve-wracking initially,” says the Irish director, “because you’re dealing with a guy (Scott Derrickson) who’s kind of the biological father of Sinister, and he’s created this kid and you’re the foster father and you’ve got to sort of raise the kid for a while.”

“You’ve got to own the movie,” Foy continued. “And Scott was very forthcoming in saying, ‘This is your movie.’ I think it would’ve felt like directing in straight-jacket if I couldn’t see something in the moment and build upon that organically.”

When C. Robert Cargill enters the room, he wastes no time in heaping praises upon Blum and the people over at Blumhouse. “I love working with Jason. Blumhouse is so much fun,” the writer says earnestly. “They are just a bunch of hardcore movie lovers like us.”

Attempting to craft a sequel presented its own set of challenges for the writers. “How do you make a second one work?” Cargill asks rhetorically. “We made a list of our favorite horror sequels,” he continued, “at the top of the list for the both of us was Final Destination 2. It makes the first one better. The first one’s good, and then you watch the second and go back, ‘No, the first one’s great.’ Because the way they expanded the mythology now fills in holes in the movie in a way that, whether they intended it or not, now appear to be there in terms of story. And that’s what we wanted to try and do with this.”

The most effective sequences in Sinister and its sequel are the moments of unearthed 8mm footage of grisly deaths. These gruesome moments present a level of demented imagination. “When we wrote the script, the first draft of the script, the kill films were placeholders,” Cargill informed us. “I stayed up all night, had two pots of coffee, and just wrote down the 24 most disturbing ways a child could kill their family.” But for the sequel, the writing duo would flip their respective responsibilities. “On the second film, I said, ‘Well, I tapped out doing that. I wrote my list of my 24 most disturbing things. You do that, and send me the list.’ So he did this time, and wrote down a list of 24 really disturbing things.”


Shannyn Sossamon plays Courtney Collins in the film, and her character is fascinating in the manner with which she’s not being terrorized by the elements of the supernatural. Her terror comes from a brutal and controlling ex-husband. “I felt a lot of times I was making a drama,” said the soft-spoken actress. “I just locked in to the kids,” she said in relation to capturing her character. “I’m a mom, and the mama bear comes in and you go for it. In those moments, it’s not super-hard to protect my kids.”

Just because Sinister 2 presents gruesome images on the screen doesn’t mean that the shoot itself was an exercise in terror for the cast and crew. “For the record, we were laughing a lot,” says Shannyn Sossamon.

“I think horror movie sets are more fun,” says Jason Blum. “Comedy sets, apparently, are really kind of dreary, and horror sets are fun. The sets aren’t scary at all.”

But even though Jason Blum has a proven track record of modestly budgeted, financially successful films, he still encounters resistance from a blockbuster obsessed Hollywood. “The studios are,” Blum takes an extended pause to find a diplomatic wording, “very resistant.” He continues, “There’s one in particular I’m thinking of right now, I’m not gonna say who. But in general, they’re very skeptical and resistant, and it’s very, very surprising.”

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