In “Sinister 2,” Shannyn Sossamon plays a mom trying to protect her twin sons from an abusive dad, from whom she’s run away … and also an evil spirit named Bughuul who, unbeknownst to her, has its sights on her sons. As it turns out Sossamon, a mother of two, can’t relate to either staying with a bad husband or the horror genre, despite occasionally working in it. But it was the drama aspect that appealed to her anyway, feeding into her notion that dysfunction starts at home.
I heard you aren't a fan of horror movies.
It’s true. Yes, I am not, and I don’t see them in the theater, and I don’t stop on them when I’m watching television, which I don’t watch much of. But I do think you should see “Sinister 2” in a theater! [Laughs]
Is it that you freak out when watching them?
I just get scared too easily. I’m a drama queen about it. I don’t want to put my nervous system through that. But I do love a good psychological thriller. If a horror film is done well — and I’m proud of this film — but if a film is done with creativity and fearlessness, it doesn’t matter what genre it is. I did go see “The Babadook,” which people had been telling me I had to see. And I did enjoy it. It was scary but there were parts that were really amazing.
Regardless of how you feel about the genre, in “Sinister 2” you’re not really involved in the horror business until the end. For most of it you’re a mother trying to protect her kids from an abusive father.
She’s unaware of it till the end, so I had to focus on that. I remember speaking with the director [Ciaran Foy] before the shoot started, and that’s what he wanted: “This is a family story and I wanted it to be just as important as the horror.” What I also thought was really beautiful is that he wanted to show the link between the ghoul and dysfunctional parenting — how the chain of evil starts in the home, in the way we raise our children. The ghoul is getting kids from dysfunctional homes. Ciaran married the two beautifully.
How much did you draw on your own experiences as a mother?
It was my ticket in, as far as stakes go. She’s trying to protect her kids, trying to make a better life for them. But there were other things I had to work on that I couldn’t quite relate to.
Did you do much research into victims of spousal abuse?
That was a huge question. I had to figure out why she stayed with him for so long, because I can’t relate. I found little links. It really is hard for women to see that it’s unhealthy. They don’t know it because the love is so strong at first. I think when you fall in love with people, at first they can do really crazy things. You can go blind because of the original feeling you had for them. It wasn’t happening at first. It just started to happen later. And then it got a little worse and a little worse. I was able to figure out whey she was with him for so long.
You’ve spoken about how when you were first thrust into movies, as an unknown in “A Knight’s Tale,” you had to struggle to learn the craft on the job, in front of everyone. Do you feel more comfortable with acting these days?
I have fallen in love with being an actor, for sure. It was little by little over the years. It grows and grows. To be really good at anything you need a fierce, passionate desire. I’m glad I’m finally there. It’s a lot more fun now. It just took me some time.
A big turning point, it seemed, is Monte Hellman’s “Road to Nowhere,” which is often just a study of you as a screen presence.
That’s someone, like Ciaran Foy, who has really gentle hands. I felt so comfortable at the end of every day. It was a turning point for me in a way. It’s hard to say “turning point,” though, because the turns have been so jagged. There’s no pattern yet. It’s still a weird road. I’ve had a few movies that I’ve loved, and there have been many that have been disappointing. But there’s a lot of good ones sprinkled in there. There’s no pattern.
Are there types of roles you wish would come your way?
I’m a total period geek. I see all of them. I love costume dramas. The last two films I saw were “Far from the Madding Crowd” and “A Little Chaos.” I don’t know if [a costume drama] will ever happen. And musicals, like Fosse-style musicals with grit and dirt and sex. Those are two genres I really love that have not come close to happening for me.