Sinister arrives on Blu-ray and DVD today, February 19th. Both versions include audio commentaries, deleted scenes and multiple featurettes and it’s a rather more loaded disc than we’re accustomed to getting with many horror releases these days.
Yesterday I had the chance to talk with writer/director Scott Derrickson and his co-writer C. Robert Cargill (aka “Massawyrm” on Ain’t It Cool). While I’ve talked about Sinister with Derrickson on prior occasions, this was my first opportunity to speak with both of them about their ongoing collaboritive process. We also discussed the lost Angela Bettis scenes that have made their way back onto the Blu, the upcoming video game adaptation of Deus Ex: Human Revolution as well as an obligatory follow-up on my part regarding Sinister 2.
In the film, “Ten years ago, true crime writer Ellison Oswald (Hawke) made his reputation with a best-selling account of a notorious murder. Now, desperate to replicate the success of his first book, he moves his family into a home where the previous occupants were brutally executed and a child disappeared, hoping to find inspiration in the crime scene. In the home, Ellison discovers a cache of terrifying home movies, unwittingly opening the door into a nightmarish mystery.”
I wanted to talk about your process together, because this is a creative relationship that’s clearly extending beyond Sinister.
Cargill: Well there are two points about Scott’s and my process which are really the crux of it. The first is that we believe wholeheartedly that the best argument wins. It’s not the loudest argument or who can put their foot in the ground the longest, it’s really the best cinematic argument. So when we have disagreements on things we start referencing other films… where it worked and where it doesn’t. Invariably one of us goes “ah man, you’re right.”
The other element of how we work is that Scott’s a dad and works a very daytime 9 to 5 schedule. I’m not a dad so I still work my nighttime blogger schedule. What happens is Scott gets up in the morning, sends his kids to school and starts working in a typical 9 to 5 fashion. I wake up somewhere between noon and 2 0’clock and we touch base and then I work through the night. When we’re cranking we’re working pretty 24/7. We frequently call each other at all hours of the day and night and we’ll just work it through.
Derrickson: We wrote Sinister in five weeks.
So you guys sort of wake up to each other’s pages?
And how did the project come about then?
Cargill: It was an idea I’d had for a while, and Scott and I had become friends because he was a fan of my writing on Ain’t It Cool. I was in Vegas with my wife and friends and I was tweeting about it and it turns out Scott was in Vegas and he said, “oh hey, we need to get together and get drinks.” So we got together and had a few drinks and Scott asked me if he could bounce an idea off me, which he did. And then I asked him if I could bounce an idea off of him and he was like, “okay everybody pitches me at least once. This is your one chance.” So I pitched him Sinister and he said “holy sh*t I want to make that movie.” And nine months later we were on set.
Derrickson: And Cargill very modestly skipped an important step in that process. Even if I had only liked the idea, I wouldn’t have done that. I probably would have just asked to buy the story and would have given him the story credit. But – and I think I was the only person at that point – I had read his novel. I had asked his opinion about scripts of mine in the past and so he, in return, asked me to read some pages from this novel. And when I read it I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was just knocked out. I remember calling him after reading the first three chapters and saying, “this is the fantasy novel I’ve been waiting for someone to write. This is amazing.”
I knew he was a good writer from Ain’t It Cool, but writing reviews and telling stories are two different things. And now it comes out next Tuesday (February 26th). “Dreams And Shadows”. It’s extraordinary. And now we’ve written four more scripts together.
With the Blu-ray coming out this week, what are some of the special features you’re excited for people to see? Anything left on the cutting room floor?
Derrickson: I think I speak for Cargill and I in that the special features we’re most proud are the two deleted scenes with Angela Bettis (May, The Woman, The ABC’s Of Death). And they’re not small scenes, they’re big scenes. We wrote them expressly with her in mind, we love her as an actress. And she knocked these scenes out of the park. They were well shot and well acted and worked as individual scenes, but when we were cutting the film they just didn’t need to be there to tell the story and they broke the spell of the movie.
That was a difficult process for me to call Angela, who I adore, and say, “I’ve cut you out of the movie.” And God bless her, she still showed up at the SXSW screening. I just adore her. And I’m excited for people to see the scenes, she’s great in them. But when you see them it will also be clear why they’re not in the movie.
And you guys have Deus Ex coming along, how’s that shaping up?
Derrickson: Awesome. We’ve done a draft, we met with the game company up in Montreal last week and we couldn’t be more excited about it.
Cargill: And everybody involved is awesome and really gets this property and really wants to make an amazing cyber-punk film.
So you don’t feel that they’re being overly precious? They’re letting do what needs to be done to make it a real movie?
Derrickson: There’s a very positive energy around it.I think it’s because everyone involved has a similar love for the game itself and for that reason, everyone wants to protect the same things. And everyone understands that video game movies have tended not to be good. And there’s a reason for that and we’re all trying to make the transition from video game to movie without falling into those same pits.
Sinister didn’t cost a lot of money, but it did very well. So it’s almost my due diligence to ask about the potential sequel we’ve been hearing rumblings about. What’s the status of Sinister 2?
Derrickson: People are talking about it. They’re interested, but there’s nothing definite yet. People like it, it did well. So there’s interest and people are having conversations. But that’s it for right now.