Starburst caught up with Scott Derrickson, director of the fantastic new horror movie Sinister, to talk about the film’s origins, sequel potential, found footage, faith and more…
Starburst: For those who haven’t caught it yet, what can you tell us about Sinister?
Scott Derrickson: In the last several years the horror genre has been dominated by found footage films. The basic concept of Sinister is that it is not found footage, but rather it is about the guy who finds the footage. It’s about a true crime writer who finds a box of five films, each one capturing a horrifying murder. As he investigates the films, paranormal things ensue…
What was the inspiration for the film?
The idea originally came from my writing partner, C. Robert Cargill. After seeing The Ring, he had a nightmare about going into his attic and finding a box of films with a murder on each film. In his dream he watched the first film, and that’s the opening shot of Sinister.
The film incorporates some found footage into its story. What are your thoughts on the current trend for the found footage subgenre? Where do you feel Sinister fits amongst that pantheon?
I think that the found footage genre is interesting, but we are at the point where it needs to evolve. Sinister is certainly an evolution of the genre, but I wouldn’t call it a found footage movie – rather it’s a movie with found footage in it.
There seems like a lot of scope for further stories within the film's universe. Do you have an eye on turning Sinister into a series or franchise?
Absolutely. If the movie makes enough money, there will definitely be sequels.
On the subject of franchises, is there a particular horror series you'd be itching to take the reigns of? Freddy or Jason, maybe?
I wouldn’t be interested in taking over something that already exists. I’d much rather create a franchise of my own – and that’s what I hope Sinister becomes.
You of course wrote and directed Hellraiser: Inferno. Have you any ambition to return to the franchise?
It was good opportunity when I was first breaking into Hollywood, but I doubt that I would return to that franchise now.
As a Christian filmmaker, some might be surprised by your genre output. How do you balance your faith with the movies you make?
I like the word Christian as a noun, but not really as an adjective. I am a Christian, but I don’t think of myself as a Christian filmmaker anymore than my wife considers herself a Christian nurse. I don’t try to balance or integrate my faith and my work, because they are naturally integrated – every director brings their view of the world into what they do. For me, horror has always been appealing because it inherently deals with good and evil. And I love that you can explore religious ideas within it without the baggage that religion itself brings to those ideas.
Of course, many of your films (Hellraiser, The Exorcism of Emily Rose) have strong religious themes. How do you find your work is greeted by both religious and horror communities?
I find that extremists on both ends dislike the religious elements in those two films you mentioned – close-minded Christians only find them obscene, and close-minded liberal sceptics find them proselytizing. I, of course, am quite convinced that they are neither.
Favourite horror movies. Go.
Top three in order: The Exorcist, The Shining, The Changeling.
Sinister is playing in cinemas now. To read our review, go HERE.