In the finished version of the film, which hit theaters last week, the Le Domas crew cannot catch Grace before sunrise and face their grisly punishment: Their heads explode, one by one, spraying their fancy dining room with red splatter. It's shocking and hilarious. But initially, Grace was supposed to bite the dust, the cycle grimly continuing, given that the police have an understanding with the Le Domas family which allows their human offerings to go on without interference. "That was the pre-Trump warning version of the movie," co-director Matt Bettinelli-Olpin says. "Like, 'look, this is what's going to happen.' And then Trump got elected and everything went to more shit. It was like, let's have the cathartic version." You know, the one with the rich people's heads exploding.
It was one of several options considered for the end writers Guy Busick and Ryan Murphy (not that one) provided, which included among them a meteor strike. The head popping one was the obvious choice, but it took some convincing. "There was friction, though, because I remember specifically, people were like, 'Are we jumping the shark with the explosions?'" Bettinelli-Olpin's fellow director Tyler Gillett explains. "We had to do a lot of pitching on, 'No, no, no, it's going to feel real. These motherfuckers are actually exploding in this house.'"
The sequence came to life with a mix of VFX work and practical effects, involving a concoction of "caramel sauce, banana, and a little bit of cloth" that was then "rigged to a detonator," according to Chad Villella, the third member of Radio Silence, who acts as an executive producer. The blood bags were then set up on a T-stand or in mini cannons, the latter of which were used to combust two Le Domas children and their mother. (The kids getting the Devil's wrath almost invariably elicits giggles from the audience: "My wife laughed the hardest at the kids," O'Brien says.)
"The actors are all in the green room waiting. They're like, 'Okay, Kristian [Bruun, who plays a useless brother-in-law]. Go in for your explosion.' And then, you come back, and everyone else is covered in blood, but that person's done," O'Brien explains. "It's so weird, and then of course, Samara and I get the most. The funny thing is, when the explosion happens, everyone around you is kind of laughing. So, it's so hard to be there and just be taking it. It was really hard to keep a straight face. And when Samara did the last one, I thought I was going to die. It was so funny watching her."