If you are a fan of kill-tape films like VHS and supernatural thrillers like Insidious, then chances are you probably saw the 2012 horror film Sinister.
Starring Ethan Hawke, Juliet Rylance and James Ransone, Sinister told the story of a crime writer who stumbles upon 8 mm home movies related to murders he is researching, and their connection to the pagan Babylonian deity named Buhguul, or Mr. Boogie, who takes the souls of children.
From the producers who brought us The Purge, Paranormal Activity and Insidious, Sinister 2 picks up years after the jaw-dropping events of the first film, this time following the story of a protective mother (played by Wayward Pines actress Shannyn Sossamon) and her twin 9-year-old boys (played by real-life twins Robert and Dartanian Sloan) who move into a house and enter into the terrifying world of the demon Buhguul.
Directed by Ciarán Foy and written by Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, the sequel focuses on the child's perspective, with actor James Ransone reprising his role as Deputy So & So.
Tech Times spoke with Ransone about what fans can expect in the second installment of the horror film, shedding some light on his own personal nightmares and supernatural experience.
I am a huge horror film fam, but it does take a lot to scare me. Sinister and now the sequel have done a good job giving me chills thanks to some disturbing moments, and of course those times when things pop up that make me jump. What can fans of Sinister expect this time around, and how is the story different from the first?
JR: Well, the story is different because it sorts of jumps from being a singular location and it branches out, the actual physical space of the universe expands a lot. I think that fans will be happy because, listen, all the kill films, they love all that—they love all that creepy home video stuff. Ciarán [Foy] did a really good job on those. The atmospheric tension is why I think a lot of people like the first one and that's based on the fact that the movie feels like a true crime investigation of something supernatural. That's still in there, and it picks up with my character following that. I actually think they will be pleasantly surprised.
In the first film, you played a smaller role and this time you replace Ethan Hawke for the lead. How has your character evolved?
JR: I don't know. All I did was read the lines that were written for me! [Laughs]
I think he reveals himself to be a lot less dumb than people thought he was, and then I think he's also pretty haunted. He's pretty regretful, and filled with a lot of sadness about how the first one ended up. It was tricky because I had to take the comedic relief of the first one, expand that for an hour and a half, and that was scary for me because what if I can't pull it off, you know?
Going after Bughuul is a big task. Is the deputy strong enough to put an end to the killings, and do you think this makes him a target?
JR: I don't know, man. Why I think the character works is because that character is the audience. He knows he can't take it on. He knows he can only stop it, but I don't think that he thinks he can beat it. He's put in a position where he has to do it against his better judgment.
And I think that's why the audience likes it because if it were me, and I moved into a haunted house, I wouldn't think like 'Oh, we'll just live here now,' I would think,' F*** that, I'm moving.' "
Why do you think he's been so obsessed with making sense of the murders, even years after the death of the Oswalts?
JR: I think because he feels responsible for the death of the female character in the first one.
There are a bit more religious references in this film, and we get more back story on the demon Bughuul. Did you dive into researching about demons and the occult to prepare for this role?
JR: No. Here's the thing about me, I'm a really skeptical person. Like I'm incredibly skeptical. I like science. But I can tell you that I lived in an apartment in Los Angeles that—I don't like even using this word because I don't believe it—but I lived in an apartment that was haunted, that I had a lot of really weird things happen to me in that freaked me out. And like a normal person, what I did was I moved.
So does that mean you personally believe in the supernatural, and can you tell us one of these experiences that really pushed you over the edge?
JR: Yeah, sure. I was having nightmares that had a reoccurring theme about an incredibly angry man and an incredibly distraught mother, and they would happen at the same time every night, 2:11 a.m. They would wake me up, and I don't have nightmares almost ever. So the last time that happened was I was in the house by myself, and I was in the middle of this really intense dream where I was standing in line to wait for a kiosk to get on a train. And a woman turned around and said, 'You look exactly like him.' This presence behind me said, 'Don't listen to her, she doesn't know what she's talking about.' And I tried to engage with the woman as me, and the other voice started to pull me backwards so much so that I woke up and hands were grabbing my body.
I said, 'F*** that, I'm out of here,' and moved within a week.
If I were in your shoes, I would've packed up, too.
It's really weird because I don't believe in ghosts, but that happened to me. I can't deny—that experience was totally real. Do I know what it was? No, but it happened.
Are you sure you weren't still dreaming when the hands grabbed you?
JR: No, I was wake and I was being grabbed.
Ironically, in the movie, the boy is having these dreams where he sees the killings. The film actually does feature more creepy kids. What was it like to work with these young actors and did they get spooked on set?
JR: Well, I only sort of worked with the two boys and not the rest of the kids. But no, they handled it pretty well. The irony is that their mom doesn't let them watch movies like this. So there was no problem whatsoever. I think it was just fun for them to be on a movie set.
So they probably won't be watching the movie once it's in theaters?
JR: Yeah, I don't think their mom [laughs] will want them to watch the movie.
What's the most challenging aspect of filming a horror film from behind-the-scenes that moviegoers wouldn't know?
JR: When you're filming a horror movie, all of the mystery-—it just sucks. Like the guy who plays Buhguul, the Buhguul mask, there are no eyes in it, so he needs to have a person lead him around. He is sort of the most vulnerable actor on set because you could just hit him in the knees and there's nothing he could do about it because he can't see you.
It's really boring, especially the scary parts because when you're building tension, you're filming things really, really slowly. You have to walk really slowly, and that's kind of it. The scare comes in the edit with sound design and how fast they smash something into it. Filming the scary tension parts are slow and tedious.
Are you a horror film fan, and if so what is your favorite?
JR: Yeah, but I like older horror movies. I am a John Carpenter fan, I like The Shining, The Exorcist and I'm a big Sam Raimi fan.
I'm not going to spoil anything for our readers, but when the film wrapped up, I was left feeling like another sequel might be in the works. Are there plans for a third film?
JR: I have no idea. I'm assuming that if they can come up with the idea then they would. But if there is I'd literally be the last person to know.
We can only wait to see if Mr. Boogie continues to haunt children and families alike. However, you can check out James Ransone and the latest chapter of the story in when Sinister 2 hits theaters Friday, Aug. 21.