Five on Film w/ ‘Sinister’ Director Scott Derrickson

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Five On Film will be an occasional feature on “Hey You Geeks!!” where directors, writers, actors or just plain awesome advocates of geek culture are asked five questions in line with the theme of their current body of work. Basically, five mostly nonsensical questions that tap into the fanboy sentimentality of the creators of the films, TV shows, and comics that perpetuate that very fandom. Ok, more simply, cool interviews.

For the inaugural interview I chat with Sinister director Scott Derrickson. Sinister revolves around true-crime novelist Ellison Oswalt (Ethan Hawke), who moves into the house of a murdered family and finds a box of Super-8 films in the attic. The films trigger a series of horrific encounters that unspool one of the most original horror films of 2012. Uniquely layering the ever-popular found-footage genre in a narrative of classic film structure, Derrickson has created something new for a genre that has become increasingly muddled in mediocrity. Sticking with that theme, I asked Derrickson five questions about his experience with the reality and horror of found footage.

Hey You Geeks: What film do you remember stumbling upon as a kid that scared the hell out of you?

Scott Derrickson: I saw the image from William Castle’s black and white film The Tingler on television where blood pours out of the faucet in a woman’s bathtub and sink – and then a hand comes out of the bloodbath. I also remember being very disturbed by the commercials for The Omen. I was too young to understand them but the tone was really frightening and there was a kid in it.

HYG: If someone was to find a box of Super 8 films of your childhood what would they most likely see?

SD: The happy part would be me playing in the Colorado snow. The scary part would be me lying in bed alone, terrified of the long, dark hallway between my room and my parents. And me getting picked on by all the neighborhood bullies — I was the youngest kid on the block.

HYG: If you found a box of Ethan Hawke movies in your attic which one would you be most prone to watch?

SD: Before Sunrise. It’s pretty much a perfect film. I don’t know anyone who has seen it who doesn’t like it. Runner up would be Tape.

HYG: In many ways Sinister is a mashup of traditional and found footage cinema. What do you love and/or hate about the now dominant found footage horror sub-genre and where do you see horror going in the future?

SD: I love that directors are getting to make films with more and more control because the budgets are small. And with found footage, the realism can be very scary — I love Paranormal Activity, Rec, Cloverfield, and VHS. But I do grow a bit weary of the aesthetic because I like the full range of cinema — musical score, sound design, editing, etc.. For this reason I don’t ever see myself directing a true found footage movie. There will be more films like Sinister that incorporate aspects of found footage without being bound by the constraints of the sub genre.

HYG: 20 years from now, someone finds a copy of Sinister in a box in an attic of a house they just moved into. What do you hope happens to them while or after viewing it?

SD: I hope guy has fun getting really scared, but then realizes that he drinks too much, is a selfish spouse, and is needlessly chasing after meaningless social status. But most of all I hope he has fun getting really scared.

Hopefully we’ll have more with Scott Derrickson soon to discuss his upcoming AMC alien invasion series “Thunderstruck,” which Paul Boardman, Charlize Theron and “Battlestar Galactica” producer David Eick.

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