A-List Director Scott Derrickson is at it again with his most recent horror film Deliver Us From Evil which debuts in theatres today, July 2.
Only don’t peg Derrickson as a “Christian” director.
And don’t throw his films into the classic shock and awe category.
Derrickson, and his films, are far too complex to fit into a neat little box. In fact, after the 20 minute phone interview, Believe.com was left with more questions than answers. As it turns out, Derrickson’s approach to faith ends up in the same boat: He’s always questioning, never quite arriving, but always filled with meaning as he journeys toward the light of truth.
As Christians, and movie goers, shouldn’t we find ourselves digging deeper, coming up with intelligent questions, and left with a burning desire to know more also? We can’t promise all your questions will be answered in this short interview, but at Believe.com, we sure hope it’ll entice you to think more about your faith.
Fun sidenote: Derrickson is no knuckle dragging horror hound. This director could shoot Bible verses out of his mouth quicker than the great reviews his thrillers always receive from critics. Our vote is that, in addition to making great movies, Derrickson writes a devotional for crime movie buffs. But we won’t hold our breaths on that one.
1. Were you interested in horror at a young age and, if so, what did your mother think about it?
Derrickson admits, to our surprise, he wasn’t all that interested in dark subjects as a kid. “I made a haunted house in my basement, but that’s about it,” he says. “If anything, I was too frightened to watch or read scary stories. I had too much fear.”
He goes on to say that fear is the primary emotion that comes to his mind when he considers his childhood. If anything, it was the fear of his present that pushed him into Christ’s arms. It was the driving force that pushed him to unpack in detail the true meaning of this terrfiying feeling and Jesus’ transformational role in it. He shares that it’s only when we, as Christians, are able to face our fears that we can really transform and live the lives God intended us to live.
2. How does horror help in facing our fears?
“Look, a lot of Christians don’t want to admit there is evil in the world. It’s too scary to talk about. But the truth is, you have to accept that there is evil first in order to accept the good.”
Like a true theologian, Derrickson points out that when we are courageous enough to admit we have fears and phobias, we can then truly latch onto the Gospel message – one that turns darkness to light, and death to life. A good horror movie isn’t just blood and guts. It’s an emotional journey that leaves movie viewers thinking about what scares them. “Rather than show an audience something, it’s far more effective to have them draw their own conclusions and imagine things in their own mind.”
3. What about redemption in your movies?
Again, Derrickson puts on his philosophy hat. “It depends on how you define redemption,” he says. Redemption, according to the director, can have lots of different meanings. Is it redemption for the character? Redemption for the movie goer?
Derrickson is adamant that he is not a classic “Christian” director who intentionally produces a film with an agenda in mind. No, Derrickson intentionally creates a film with characters and stories that let the viewer think about their lives. He is not directing Christian movies. He is a director who happens to be Christian.
4. You talk openly about your crisis of faith in college. Talk a bit about how that experience rooted you in Christianity.
“Actually, I had more than one crisis of faith,” he chuckles. “I went to those dark places… and I likely will again. But that’s part of the human experience.” He goes on to say that God has always met him in those places.
5. Are you ever afraid of getting so close to evil that you might bring some of it home with you?
Derrickson makes a real distinction between his film making and his home. “No, not at all. My home is a home of light.”
From the moment Derrickson started talking with us, it becaume transparent that his is a man who is clear with his intentions and boundaries. It wasn’t a suprise to hear that he keeps most of his work props in an office away from his home so that work is work and family is family.
In fact, despite an interview dotted with words like “exorcism,” ”the devil,” and “deliverance from evil,” it was easy to sense a shift in his voice when he spoke of his children and his wife – a wife who has seen her own share of darkness as a pediatric oncologist.
Food for thought: Maybe Believe.com didn’t actually sense a shift in his voice but instead, like his movies, we created this image in our own minds based on Derrickson’s amazing communication skills. Like the mysticism of his faith that this Hollywood director is so attracted to, some things we’ll never know for sure. But let’s face it: We know love when we hear it.
What is the movie about?
Deliver Us From Evil is an intense dramatization of actual events, following New York City police detective Ralph Sarchie (Eric Bana) as he tries to solve a series of bizarre and frightening events plaguing the city and even his own home. He turns to an unconventional priest (Edgar Ramirez) for help when it becomes clear the evil he is fighting is more spiritual than earthly. As he discovers the power of God is the only force that can defeat the enemy he is up against, Sarchie must decide if he will put his faith in someone greater than himself. This heart pounding, suspenseful, spirit world thriller will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
In Theatres Now!
Start your holiday weekend early with something amazing to talk about. This thriller, in addition to being directed by Scott Derrickson, was produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and co-written with Paul Harris Boardman. It’s based on a 2001 book entitled Beware the Night by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool. In addition to starring Eric Bana and Édgar Ramírez it includes Sean Harris, Olivia Munn, and Joel McHale.