How One Cut Sinister Scene Ended Up In Sinister 2 [Exclusive]

Scientifically, "Sinister" is the scariest movie of all time. The 2012 horror movie sees a has-been crime writer (played by Ethan Hawke) moving his family into a murder house while he investigates the case for a new book. He doesn't tell his wife or kids about the home's grisly history, and he finds a box of Super 8 home movies in his attic that indicate the house's much darker past. Each home movie has unsettling imagery — with one in particular spiking heart rates higher than normal — and each is key to the film's overall eerie atmosphere. It's the sort of modern-day chiller that makes the rounds at sleepovers, where kids dare each other to make it all the way to the end credits.

/Film's Ryan Scott gathered insights from director Scott Derrickson and co-writer C. Robert Cargill for an oral history celebrating the film's 10-year anniversary. It's common horror fan knowledge that Cargill came up with the story following a surreal nightmare after watching the found footage-adjacent "The Ring," which has its own share of unhinged imagery. Cargill tells /Film that Derrickson leaned into the idea, asking the "Doctor Strange" co-writer to "bring me some kills and we'll go write a script." Cargill, ever the morbid overachiever, sent in two dozen ways to die for the potential story, gruesome kills that could be carried out by ... well, that would be a spoiler. Six kills ended up in the final script, but only five were filmed.

The unused kill, Cargill admits, was cut and added to the "Sinister" sequel. 

Christmas Morning

This time helmed by "Eli" director Ciarán Foy, 2015's "Sinister 2" features its fair share of kill footage. Each home movie title, ranging from "Fishing Trip" to "Kitchen Remodel," vaguely indicate how the corresponding family dies in each violent short. And that brings us to "Christmas Morning." To the sweet discordant tunes of the musical duo tomandandy, "Christmas Morning" begins with a white Christmas. A family opens their gifts and all seems merry and bright until the festivities turn horrific as an unseen figure buries the parents and children alive in the snow-covered yard, their bodies bound in holiday light strings. The clincher: one person, who appears dead, suddenly flits their frost-encrusted eyes towards the camera in a highly disturbing fourth-wall break. 

This home movie, Cargill tells /Film, was originally planned for "Sinister," not its follow-up:

 "We cut Christmas morning, which we then slipped into 'Sinister 2.' And in fact, because we cut that out, we cut out a scene that I felt was necessary to sidestep a certain criticism."

The necessary scene that was left on the cutting room floor of "Sinister"? Cargill lays out the scene: Ellison (Hawke) investigates a noise in his kitchen, where he discovers a girl:

"...And he turns on the light and she's gone. And then he goes to leave and he turns the light off again. And she's still there. And it was because I knew there'd be some critic out there going, 'Why doesn't he ever turn on the lights?' And sure enough, that was the number one criticism we got for this movie is, why is he always creeping around the house, not turning on the lights? So we lost the scene where he turns on the lights and answers that question."

Never underestimate the nitpicking power of horror fans.