A few years ago, Irish filmmaker Ciarán Foy made a name for himself with Citadel, his haunting tale of agoraphobic horror that premiered at the SXSW Film Festival. His latest directorial effort, Sinister 2, is set to debut later this week and Daily Dead recently had the opportunity to speak with him about coming on board the sequel, working with the cast, his experiences collaborating with Scott Derrickson and C. Robert Cargill, who co-wrote the script, and much more.

Sinister 2 is being released on August 21st from Gramercy Pictures and stars James Ransone as Deputy So & So, who has been tracking Bughuul since the events of the original Sinister and finds a woman (Shannyn Sossaman) and her twin sons (Robert and Dart Sloan) living in a rural house that just so happens to be the demonic force’s latest target. It’s soon a race against time for the Deputy as Bughuul’s evil continues to rage on, impacting both kids and putting their entire family in mortal danger.

Great to speak with you again today, Ciarán. It’s really cool to see how things have evolved for you since we last spoke for Citadel. I'm curious, was this something that was brought to you, or did you have to lobby yourself in order to get involved with directing Sinister 2?

Ciarán Foy: This all happened as a very strange way to get any job. After SXSW, I got representation over here in the US and I was being sent a lot of scripts. Most of them where terrible and I assumed this was how this whole game works so I was just going to wait for the perfect script to arrive. You only realize in retrospect that you're hot for two and a half minutes and it depends on when the next major festival comes along. Those scripts started to dissipate and I remember that in 2013, I was feeling like I was back to square one. I even wrote two scripts that year and was going to endeavor to get them off the ground but nothing really happened.

Then in January 2014, I followed Scott Derrickson on Twitter and he tweeted that he had just seen this movie Citadel on Netflix and he was raving about it. I was like, "Oh, that's kind of cool." I just replied to him and said, "Thanks." He started following me and asked me a bunch of questions about Citadel, like what was the shooting schedule like and how was it working with kids. Then he just said, "You'd be the perfect director for Sinister 2. Would you like to read the script?" And that's kind of how it came to me, so I have Twitter and Netflix to thank for all of this [laughs].

When you came into it, were you able to work at all with Derrickson and Cargill, or was the script already good to go and it was basically your job to shepherd it?

Ciarán Foy: The guys were very open to some things I had wanted to do, so I had a couple of ideas that we implemented just before prep started. It definitely wasn't the feeling that the script was locked and couldn't change and I was just coming in and saying where the camera goes. They were quite collaborative in that way. They spent quite a while writing this and getting the scripture of it right. That didn't change. There were just small kinds of character things that I brought to it. The process the whole way through, even on set and then in the edit, was one where you are constantly reshaping it and making it the best it can be.

What I love about the Sinister films is that they have two looks to them: the normal film and the home movies. Can you talk a little bit about what that process was like? Was it a case where you went and shot separately for the kill films or do you guys do that while you're in regular production, too?

Ciarán Foy: We did it while we were in regular production. I think in the first Sinister they shot all the kill films before the main body of the shoot, which meant that they could project them on set for real, for Ethan Hawke. The schedule this time around meant that we had to shoot it at the same time as the main body of the shoot. Those films were shot on 16mm. Then we downgraded them further in post to give them that gnarly, scratchy effect. And with each of the kill films this time, there's some sort of visual effect elements in them—whether it's small makeup stuff or whether it's because some of the kills involve creatures.

One kill we had some real rats and then we had some CGI rats, too. Each kill film had their own element that was going to need some digital component to it, so that meant that we couldn't have anything on set. They were all comped in afterwards.

Something interesting about doing the kill films is that you're shooting on 16mm and trying to give it that same feeling like ultimately there's a ten-year-old behind this camera. That ended up being a little tricky working with a professional camera man who had to be shitty behind the camera on purpose. They've spent their whole careers learning how to operate so correctly and efficiently so they had to regress in a way. I’m not sure how much they enjoyed that, especially since their instincts are to make good-looking movies [laughs].

Could you talk a bit about working with the cast? Obviously James is back as Deputy So & So. He brings his own kind of energy to it, but then you have Shannyn and the kids as well that bring this whole separate dynamic, too.  

Ciarán Foy: Each element to this cast was different and like you say, they all bring their own qualities to it. James is such a pleasure to work with, but he's also such a naturally funny guy that there were some moments that we found together on set that were little comedy beats that felt like they were naturally happening, as opposed to forcing in a joke. By having him in more of a lead in this movie and having more of an emphasis on the kids, it meant that it was very much a Sinister movie and we still have that sense of dread which was paramount to the first one.

There is a bit more comedy and levity in this one than the first one, certainly from Deputy So & So. What I love about him and what James totally gets is that he is the audience. He's not that atypical horror lead who is either incredibly dumb or incredibly heroic in circumstances where most of us would run away. He's shit-scared about what's happening, but in spite of that he still continues on this quest to do the right thing. That's why we love him as a character. He was great fun to work with.

And Shannyn is somebody when I met her in the casting process, I was like, "We have to cast her." I know she's been out of the game for a little while and I think the studios were looking for perhaps a more recognizable name and I was like, "She has all the qualities of this character." She has a spirit to her. She has this look that is—obviously she is very striking—but also she is warrior-like, a lioness that's protecting her cubs. She just feels real and different and not your typical horror movie mom. I met her and she is incredibly script savvy and intelligent with asking a lot of the right questions. I wanted to make this character real.

One thing I recognized about Scott's previous work and one thing I wanted to bring to this movie was that the more real you can make the characters, the more the drama feels real, the more the performances are authentic and the more we care about the people. Any sense of terror is just going to be amplified. I thought she was perfect for the job.

Then the kids, those two boys, Robert and Dart Sloan, they were a bit of a godsend in the sense that the script initially spoke about these identical twins and you couldn't tell them apart and all this kind of stuff. I said to Scott early on, having just come off of Citadel, I know how hard it is to find one good kid actor and to find two that are not only brothers, but identical twins, I was like, "You know we could be searching for six months, a year to find candidates for that." I suggested that maybe we just make them brothers. That would make it slightly easier. The guys were willing to do that, but Scott was like, "Still, just keep an eye out for twins because it would be kind of cool."

But bizarrely enough, we met those guys in our first week. One of the things I said to Terry Taylor, the casting director, was that on Citadel I ended up looking in unusual places for the kids in that I didn't want to go to the usual theater schools. I didn't want a kid with a manager, that kind of thing. So we ended up finding a lot of our kids on Citadel in a local martial arts school because what you get is that sense of discipline and focus that a lot of ten-year-olds lack. You also get a rawness and a feeling of them being actual kids, as opposed to these theatrical over-performers.

On Sinister 2, I said the same thing. We found those boys playing hockey. They had that sense of discipline and focus, but also they have that confidence that made them not be afraid to be onscreen and act. Most importantly of all, they were brothers. We got a rapport between those two guys that we just simply would not have gotten in the time frame with two actors that had never met each other before. And working with kids is something I love to do. We found the rest of our ghost kids out of Chicago because that's where we shot. It was a challenge because of the scheduling; the hours that kids are allowed to work is you basically get half a day, so that was tough, but it's something that I love to do.

Going into this and knowing your background, was this experience with Sinister 2 everything that you hoped it would be or was it something wholly different altogether? 

Ciarán Foy: A little bit of both. It's funny in that I was a little bit daunted coming over initially. Not only because this was a studio movie, but also because the director of the first one was also a producer on this one, which brings its own sense of anxiety because you want to do it right. I found out pretty quickly, though, that it was the same process. Once you're on set, you're working with the performers, you're talking to your AD and your DP the most. And so once it got going it was like, "I can do this. I've been here before." Citadel was absolutely a great training ground for Sinister 2.


"The sequel to the 2012 sleeper hit horror movie. In the aftermath of the shocking events in “Sinister,” a protective mother (Shannyn Sossamon of “Wayward Pines”) and her 9-year-old twin sons (real-life brothers Robert and Dartanian Sloan) find themselves in a rural house marked for death as the evil spirit of Bughuul continues to spread with frightening intensity."

Directed by Ciarán Foy and written by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Sinister 2 stars James Ransone, Shannyn Sossamon, Lea Coco, Robert and Dartanian Sloan.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.