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Introduced in the First Film:

    Ellison Oswalt 

Ellison Oswalt
"Nothing about this is okay. But bad things happen to good people, and they need to have their story told. They deserve that much."
Played By: Ethan Hawke

A has-been true crime writer who, after writing a famous and successful novel, has fallen on hard times when his next books were unsuccessful. Ellison decided to move his family to a house where a family was murdered to write his next novel, only to find he and his family in the crosshairs of Bughuul.

  • The Alcoholic: Constantly watching the home movies result in him drinking more and more whiskey to cope.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: He says up front he doesn't believe in the supernatural. It takes Bughuul popping right in his face to convince him otherwise.
  • Character Development: Ellison starts out as a selfish, neglectful father who only cares about getting back his old fame, but as the film goes on he realizes what a selfish ass he’s been and ultimately gives up any aspirations for fame, deciding he’d rather be with his family and provide for them.
  • Death By Genre Savvy: After getting definitive proof that something supernatural is afoot and endangering his family, he gets them the hell out of dodge, burns the home movies, destroys his notes, and moves back to his old house. It turns out this was exactly what Bughuul wanted, and he and his family are killed by a corrupted Ashley.
  • Establishing Character Moment: After he watches "Family Hanging Out", he's freaked out and tearing up, and pours himself a drink. Then he watches it again and takes notes this time.
  • The Hero Dies: Ashley, under Bughuul’s influence, kills Ellison with an axe for the latest of Bughuul’s twisted home movies.
  • It's All About Me: Despite his claims of writing his book for his family and for murder victims, it's clear to everyone except Ellison (and Deputy So-And-So) that he’s really only writing his book to get back his old fame. He also continually moves his family around to write his books without consulting them, and refuses to take other jobs which he views as “beneath him.” He eventually comes to realize it, and gets better in the end.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ellison is selfish, a somewhat neglectful father, and is rather unethical with his writing, but he truly loves his family and he realizes his flaws and gets over them.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Comes to the conclusion that he's in a haunted house movie, and at the end, finally reacts accordingly by pulling him and his family out of the house. Unfortunately for him, it's the reels that are haunted, and he's too late.

    Deputy So-And-So 

Deputy So-And-So
Played By: James Ransone

A kindhearted deputy and fanboy of Ellison who serves as Ellison's contact on the King's County police force.

  • Ambiguous Disorder: There’s something clearly off about his behavior.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He is often Captain Obvious and Comically Missing the Point, but he has a degree in criminology and is very Genre Savvy.
  • Captain Obvious: "Snakes don't have feet."
  • Clueless Deputy: Subverted. He acts clueless, but is a very Genre Savvy aversion to Police Are Useless.
  • Genre Savvy: In spades. He admits to believing in the supernatural, and never fails to dispense useful advice to Ellison. Humorously, he, while trying to assure Ellison that nothing supernatural going on, terrifies Ellison even more when he admits to believing in the supernatural and going off on a tangent about how stupid an idea it was to move into the site of a crime scene.
  • Nice Guy: Though he is eccentric, he is nothing but polite and kind to everyone he meets and spends most of his screentime in both films trying to help people.
  • No Name Given: His name is never revealed in either film.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: In the first film.
  • Private Investigator: He has become one in the sequel after being kicked off the force.
  • Uncertain Doom: The sequel ends with Bughuul appearing in front of him after being summoned by the ham radio, with the implication that this is how Bughuul disposed of Professor Jonas; however, there’s a pretty good chance he could have escaped.

    Tracy Oswalt 

Tracy Oswalt

Played By: Juliet Rylance

Ellison's wife, who he is on bad terms with due to his constantly moving the family around to write his next book.

  • Jerkass: She spends most of her time screaming at her kids loud enough for Ellison to hear in his office and insulting them, and has a tendency to blame Ellison for everything without hearing him out, or any proof.

    Ashley Oswalt 

Ashley Oswalt

Played By: Clare Foley

Ellison's daughter, who is a budding artist with a habit of painting on the walls.

  • Creepy Child: After Bughuul corrupts her.
  • Cheerful Child: In contrast to her brother Trevor. Subverted hard when it turns out she was corrupted by Bughuul.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Bughuul manages to corrupt her and turn her into one of his servants at some point in the film.
  • Fate Worse than Death: After killing her family, Bughuul carries Ashley into his nether realm to devour her soul.
  • Tragic Villain: She is forced by Bughuul to kill her family and carried by him into his nether realm to devour her soul.

    Trevor Oswalt 

Trevor Oswalt

Played By: Michael Hall D'Addario

Ellison's son, who experiences bizarre night terrors.

  • Red Herring: Given his interest in his father's macabre profession and his night terrors, particularly the terrifying episode where he somehow contorts himself into a box, and the way he draws a picture of the murder on the class whiteboard soon after, one would think he gets corrupted by Bughuul. Nope. It's Ashley.


Bughuul, Eater of Children

Played By: Nicholas King

An obscure ancient deity who devours the souls of children after luring them from and killing their families.

  • All There in the Manual: He's the brother of the demon Moloch, who sealed his mouth shut with ashes for trying to steal the children sacrificed to him.
  • Batman Gambit: With all that haunting, you'd think he's dead set on keeping up the status quo. He's not — he knows full well that the families will eventually catch onto the hauntings, and will escalate them until the family moves out, allowing the child of the family he corrupted to murder them all, repeating the cycle with every family that moves into each house.
  • Big Bad/Greater-Scope Villain: Despite being the cause of the family murders, he leaves most of the scares to his ghost children.
  • The Corrupter: He corrupts children into killing their families and entering his realm so he can devour their souls and use them as servants.
    • It's implied that he usually does this with siblings, corrupting the one that proves receptive to him.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Judging by the titles of his home movies.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: He gives his home movies snarky and innocuous titles.
  • God of Evil: Compared to most historical deities to whom children were sacrificed, Bughuul doesn't have much in the way of redeeming traits. The only purpose of his existence seems to be to feed his own hunger for children's souls.
  • Humanoid Abomination: He looks humanoid, but is an ancient, soul-consuming entity.
  • Pet the Dog: Despite being a God of Evil, he doesn’t hurt dogs and in the “Sleepy Time” home movie the child under his sway that is filming it leaves the family dog alone, and he has the ghost children scare off a dog that wanders into Ellison's backyard rather than kill it.
  • Silent Antagonist: He never utters a word. Not even a sound.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Explicitly called "the boogeyman" in the second movie. Also seems to be a bit of a deconstruction: whereas the boogeyman would traditionally punish children for being bad, Bughuul is the direct cause of their bad (or more appropriately in this case, murderous) behavior, and needs their corrupt souls so he can feed on them.
  • Troll: He seems to get a kick out of pulling Jump Scares on people, particularly Ellison.
  • Your Soul Is Mine!: He devours the souls of the children he corrupted into servitude. It's heavily implied that this happens over a long period of time, with those he's been feeding on longest have a more decayed appearance, which would explain why only a handful of the many children he's eaten over millennia are shown in either movie.



Played By: Fred Thompson

The Sheriff of King's County who dislikes Ellison because he feels Ellison's true crime novels are unethical.

  • Advertised Extra: Fred Thompson gets third billing, but he only shows up for two scenes.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite rudely confronting Ellison over moving to King's County, when Ellison takes his family to flee from the town, he asks if Ellison was bullied out and tears up Ellison's speeding ticket.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: With Ellison when he first arrives in King's County.

    Professor Jonas 

Professor Jonas

Played By: Vincent D'Onofrio

An expert on occultism who researches Bughuul for Ellison.

  • Hero of Another Story: Deputy So-And-So mentions that the police often bring him in for the weirder cases.
  • Mr. Exposition: His main purpose is to provide information of Bughuul, and pops up periodically to do so.
  • Occult Detective: Implied to be one, given his assisting the police in numerous cases related to the occult.
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: He goes missing in between the first and second films, something heavily implied to be Bughuul's doing.

Introduced in the Second Film:


Courtney Wheeler-Collins

Played By: Shannyn Sossamon

A woman fleeing her abusive husband along with her two sons takes refuge in an abandoned house that is haunted by Bughuul.

  • Awful Wedded Life: She keeps running away from her husband, Clint. The movie shows us after Clint's success in taking her, Dylan, and Zach back, he abuses them mercilessly.
  • Good Parents: She loves both her sons and takes them with her to avoid her husband who is a complete asshole towards them. She even still trying to save Zach who is a Creepy Child after trying to kill her and Dylan, even though he's beyond saved as Bughuul punish him.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: She falls in love with Deputy So-And-So after he protect her and her sons from his husband when trying to force them go back home with him.


Dylan Collins

Played By: Robert Daniel Sloan

Courtney's son, who finds himself haunted by visions of Bughuul, who seeks to corrupt him.


Zachary Collins

Played By: Dartanian Sloan

Dylan's twin brother who enjoys treating Dylan like below him.


Clint Collins

Played By: Lea Coco

  • Abusive Parents: He beat Dylan so badly he ended up in the ER.
  • Asshole Victim: Is the only person to die for Zach's film, and boy, did he have it coming.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Thinks that he's calling the shots by trying to force Courtney to come back home with him. Unfortunately for him, he's a step down from an ancient, soul-devouring boogeyman.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: An agricultural magnate who abuses his wife and one of his two sons, and pays off cops to track her down.
  • Faux Affably Evil: His veneer of calm and collectedness does nothing to hide what a horrible person he really is.
  • Hate Sink: Clint is meant to be despicable even next to the likes of Bughuul, considering he's a sleazy executive and domestic abuser.
  • Smug Snake: Tries his absolute damndest to play alpha male, and constantly gloats to both Courtney and Deputy So-And-So when he does. But as usual, he's on a much lower rung than Bughuul.