Sinister stars Ethan Hawke as a washed up crime writer who discovers a box of grizzly super-8 footage in the attic of his new house. Eventually, he discovers that these movies, seemingly left behind by the previous homeowners, are tied to an ancient evil — a real-life boogeyman called Baghuul (or adorably, Mr. Boogie). In the few short years since Sinister was released in 2012, the movie has become somewhat of a horror fan favorite (a sequel came out in 2015). While you might be familiar with the movie’s genuinely spooky story, here are 5 chilling, behind-the-scenes facts that you may not have known.
1. Sinister was inspired by a nightmare and The Ring.
The Ring is about a single spooky, cursed movie and Sinister is about a box o’ spooky, cursed movies. The similarity there isn’t coincidental. After watching The Ring, co-writer C. Robert Cargill, had a dream about going into his attic and finding a bunch of films that had the same kind of grizzly murder footage on them as the home movies that show up in Sinister. In fact, that dream was turned into the movie’s opening shot.
2. The creepy box-backbend scene was ripped from director Scott Derrickson’s life.
One of the most unsettling moments in this super unsettling movie is when Trevor — Hawke’s character’s son — crawls backward out of box and screams. Apparently, Derrickson’s son did something similar in the past. “My son gets night terrors. I’ve seen him scream like this,” Derrickson says. “He’ll look right at you and scream holy terror.”
3. The child actors who played Mr. Boogie’s ghost entourage had hilariously disturbing conversations with each other on set.
Before filming, Cargill overheard the kids saying things like, “Hey, how do you kill your parents?” They were comparing their roles and talking about how “cool” each of the ghost kids they were playing were. On the last day of the shoot, the kids cried because they’d had so much fun.
4. Mr. Boogie/Bughuul is not a real pagan god but the character does share traits with some seriously scary ancient deities.
Bughuul, the so-called “eater of children,” seems to have been modeled on Moloch, the Canaanite deity of child sacrifice. In the Hebrew Bible, Moses warns the Jewish people about worshipping Moloch (Leviticus 18:21 states, “You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Moloch, and so profane the name of your God). On Sinister’s official Facebook page, the comparison between Bughuul and Moloch is made explicit — the movie villain is called “brother of Moloch” and it says that “Bughuul mimicked Moloch’s worship and child sacrifice rituals before Moloch furiously shut Bughuul’s mouth with ash for all eternity.” Bughuul is also similar to another Canaanite deity named Baal, who had demonic attributes.
5. One particularly morbid 8 mm, family death scene didn’t make the cut.
Derrickson says that the footage was of a family at Christmastime and “it was out in the woods,[and] … freezing cold.” The scene was cut for financial reasons but Derrickson and Cargill were OK with that. Cargill says, “The thing that we created was grimmer and a bit more dark and grisly than it was frightening. It was a little out of step with everything else, and I think ultimately it was a good cut for the better of the movie because it was just a little too dark.”[Sources: Starburst Magazine, FSR, Screen Prism, Crave, The Film Stage]