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The Cutting Room: Director Ciaran Foy talks “SINISTER 2”

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Welcome to THE CUTTING ROOM, a new weekly column on FANGORIA.com that highlights the  stories that most share DNA of our print counterpart. Rather than just feature the articles and interviews that didn’t make the cut, this column is dedicated to providing a greater lifeline between FANGORIA Magazine and FANGORIA.com.

As many directors can tell you, there’s an inherent pressure when you direct a sequel to a beloved film, especially when the film is a macabre modern masterpiece such as SINISTER. Expectations are high from producers to audiences to critics, and it’s rarely an enviable place to be. However, in the case of Ciaran Foy and SINISTER 2, those expectations are off-set by the blessing of Jason Blum, C. Robert Cargill and Scott Derrickson, allowing the fright filmmaker to further the concept and mythology behind Bughuul rather than retread familiar territory. With the film now on DVD/Blu-ray from Gramercy Pictures, FANGORIA spoke to Foy about being up to snuff on SINISTER 2…

FANGORIA: So how did you come to a project like SINISTER 2?

CIARAN FOY: I actually got this job through Twitter and a bizarre circumstance. Scott Derrickson actually tweeted at me in January of 2014 that he watched my movie CITADEL on Netflix, so I replied to his tweet and said thanks. So he started following me and direct messaging me a lot of questions about CITADEL, like my experience with working with kids, what my budget was like, what my schedule was like, etc. And then he said that I would be the perfect director for SINISTER 2 and sent me the script. So this movie really came to me.

FANGORIA: Were you at all intimidated by the prospect of stepping into Scott’s shoes?

FOY: I really didn’t think I was stepping into anyone shoes in the sense that when Scott saw CITADEL, he saw a filmmaker whose aesthetics and work wasn’t so far away from what he would do. There wasn’t even an expectation to pay homage to the first movie, let alone replicate anyone’s style. One of the things that Scott said to me from the get go was that SINISTER 2 was my movie so I felt that I had the freedom to craft the film that I wanted to craft. Obviously at the same time the film needs to feel like it’s in the same universe as the first one. For instance, there was a scene where I wanted to replicate a famous shop from the first movie so we got to replicate that on film while referencing the style of the first movie. But for SINISTER 2 to feel like my movie I had to take it in the direction that I thought worked best.

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FANGORIA: Can you elaborate on the process of making the snuff films? I believe the last time we spoke you mentioned that they were filmed on 16mm and then converted to 8mm.

FOY: Yes we shot those films on 16mm and the reason we shot it like that rather than 8mm like they did on the first movie was that some of the films had a digital FX element to them. That was a compromise had to make because I didn’t want to have to shoot them on 35mm as they wouldn’t have the shockingly realistic low-quality feel of things. But if had shot it on 8mm, the digital artists would have been in a lot of trouble because the information is just not there. For them to simply add blood to 8mm would have been a nightmare. So to do it in 16mm, it would be easier for them to work around in but it would still have the worn out look to it all.

It was a lot of fun to shoot those scenes but when I was finally able to watch them with the music and everything, my favorite of the films would either be the rats in the church or the Christmas one. There’s something just very weird, eerie and sad about the Christmas one, especially with the music and the snow coming together the way it does.

FANGORIA: SINISTER 2 carries over the tradition from the first film of balancing horror with a domestic drama. As a filmmaker, how did you approach that element of the story?

FOY: All good horror films have to ground their stories in someplace outside of the horror, and I think that’s one of the things Scott saw in CITADEL. When you do that, you get great performances because they’ll be treating the material like a straightforward drama. And if the audience finds that to be believable, then when you inject dread or terror into a scene, it’s amplified because the characters feel real and you’re invested in them.

That was important for me, and if you look at all the greats from THE EXORCIST to JACOB’S LADDER, it’s the drama within the horror that makes those movies stand the test of time. So there was a big emphasis on making sure we had good actors, and one of the things that I said to the actors was, “Get it out of your mind that you’re doing a horror film and concentrate on the emotion of the scene.” And once we got that right, the horror was exponentially more effective.

FANGORIA: Considering that you were changing the perspective on how one would see and interact with Bughuul, was there anything specifically that you wanted to add visually to the film?

FOY: Rather than choosing something and saying, “Hey, you know what would be cool? This angle here,” or choosing anything arbitrarily because it is cool, I always need to find a reason as to why I’m doing something. But this spinning, circular visual element came from talking to our production designer about how everything with Bughuul is cyclical; whenever Bughuul begins to possess someone, the chain of events repeats itself. So when we enter the boys’ dream world where they encounter Bughuul and the camera is spinning and twisting around, it’s like that for a reason: Bughuul is like this puppet master and they’re not in control.

SINISTER 2 (and its original, alternate ending) is now on DVD/Blu-ray from Universal Home Entertainment.

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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