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How Sinister Was Born From A Three-Week Nightmare Fueled By The Ring

You admittedly don't have to look very hard to find a list ranking cinema's scariest movies these days. The horror genre has arguably never been more popular in mainstream circles, and virtually every publication both online and in print has published just such a piece. Heck, even scientific circles have gotten into the mix in recent years with Broadband Choices' The Science of Scare Project.

While both the films and their actual ranking on those scary movie lists tend to change on the regular, there's (understandably) a considerable amount of overlap between them. And it seems two classic modern creepers that turn up on almost all of those lists have a more direct connection than you might've thought. Those films are 2002's deeply unsettling remake of "The Ring," and 2012's nerve-shattering slasher "Sinister." Yes, both fright flicks are listed in the top 20 by The Science of Scare Project's 2022 rankings. The latter film was even the first movie to claim the top spot in the 2020 study. But according to the co-writer of "Sinister," his film likely wouldn't exist had he not been so wholly disturbed by his own screening of "The Ring." That scribe is film critic-turned-screenwriter C. Robert Cargill. And according to Cargill's recent comments, the idea for "Sinister" first took up residence in his brain after a screening of "The Ring" inspired a horrifying nightmare.

Sinister scribe C. Robert Cargill turned his nightmare into a treat for horror fans

Cargill made those comments to Slash Film for an article celebrating the 10-year anniversary of "Sinister." And in his own words, "The idea [for 'Sinister'] originated from a nightmare that came after watching 'The Ring' in a theater." Cargill continues, "It was a nightmare that stuck with me so long that I realized, about three weeks after still having the echoes of this nightmare in my head, that if it was scaring me that much, that it'd probably scare other people."

According to the writer, he spent the next several years refining the concept, occasionally pitching it to friends to see how they'd react. "Finally, by about 2007, 2008, it was a solid pitch," Cargill noted, adding, "People would get goosebumps or really be into it." Seems his filmmaker friend Scott Derrickson was one of those people. And, as Derrickson himself told Slash Film, after hearing Cargill's "Sinister" pitch he told his pal in no uncertain terms, "That's the best idea for a horror film I've ever heard." Genre super-producer Jason Blum agreed and fast-tracked production on "Sinister" through Blumhouse Productions.

Less than a year later, Cargill and Derrickson had turned a nightmare inspired by "The Ring" into a legit cinematic nightmare of their own. A decade on and viewers are still talking about — and getting sublimely freaked out by — "Sinister" which (for the record) would make a nerve-shredding double feature with "The Ring."