Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Sinister's Bughuul Was Originally Pitched As A Messed-Up Willy Wonka

By some accounts, "Sinister" is the scariest film ever made (via MovieWeb). And even if you don't fully agree with that ranking, one has to admit that it is a pretty terrifying experience. The story of true crime author Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who moves his family into a home where grisly murders took place, only to have all of them trapped in a sequence of demonic killings, is a bone-chilling one. 

There were a great many elements that made "Sinister" work as a horror movie. Its pacing is precise, its atmosphere believably unsettling, and of course, it has a spooky big bad, "Mr. Boogie," later revealed to be the Pagan deity Bughuul. It is Bughuul who strings together murdered family after murdered family, always taking one of the children for his own and making sure to catch it all on 8mm film. Bughuul's look — a gray, featureless face, dark pits where his eyes should be, and greasy black hair — is also fittingly horrifying. But he almost had a very different look, one more befitting the nickname of "Mr. Boogie."

In Slash Film's oral history of "Sinister," C. Robert Cargill described how the initial idea of the film came to him through a nightmare, but he did not have a villain to spur things forward. "I came up with this idea of it being the kids, and then why would the kids do it? I came up with this idea that I pitched to Scott [Derrickson, director of "Sinister"] as this f*****-up Willy Wonka." They opted not to go the messed-up Willy Wonka route, instead landing on what we recognize as Bughuul today.

The vision came to life in The Babadook

It is difficult to imagine C. Robert Cargill's original idea working anywhere near as effectively. Creepy as some versions of Willy Wonka can be, the idea of a grinning man in a top hat staring back at you through an 8mm film doesn't quite stir the same anxiety or terror in you. This isn't to say it can't fit any other horrific premise, though. Cargill told Slash Film, "My original concept from the way it was formed in my head would be realized on film several years later in a movie called 'The Babadook.' That image was very close to what I had in my head for what Bughuul was supposed to look like."

Cargill's mention is only for reference. He did not write "The Babadook," nor did he have anything else to do with the production of the film, which was released two years after "Sinister." Still, the top hat and maniacal grin work for a character like Mister Babadook, seeing as he is a character from a children's book come to life as a violent personification of grief. That he was brought to life through stop-motion animation underlined the character's mischievousness.

And of course, "The Babadook" is also considered a modern masterpiece of horror. Rotten Tomatoes ranks it at number 13 on its list of the 200 Best Horror Movies of All Time. Even William Friedkin, director of an absolute classic like "The Exorcist," dubbed "The Babadook" the most terrifying movie he'd ever seen (via Twitter). This just goes to show, when it comes to horror, there are few things more important than an appropriate villain.