Our Scott Derrickson Movies Spotlight takes a look back at the Doctor Strange helmer’s filmography
Doctor Strange has been in various stages of development since the 1980s, and directors like Wes Craven (Nightmare on Elm Street), Chuck Russell (The Blob), Stephen Norrington (Blade), and Johnathan Levine (All the Boys Love Mandy Lane) have been attached at various points. Clearly, Marvel has always wanted a horror director to make their entrance into the “supernatural” side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But it is Scott Derrickson who finally took the helm of Doctor Strange.
Doctor Strange follows neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) who is left unable to operate after a tragic accident. There is hope for him yet, as a mystical being known as the Ancient One tells him he is the new Sorcerer Supreme, charged with protecting the planet from evil. There is far more magic in Doctor Strange than any other Marvel film to date, which makes it the perfect film for Derrickson. Derrickson’s background is in horror, a genre which often involves magic, the occult, and sorcery.
In preparation for Doctor Strange‘s theatrical debut on November 4, let’s take a look at the complete history of Scott Derrickson movies.
Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)
Derrickson wrote the script for this sequel to the 1998 teen slasher hit. A new killer is on the loose at a college campus, killing students based on famous urban legends. Some of the legends Derrickson covered in the script include a woman waking up to find her kidney has been stolen; fake corpses in an amusement park ride that turn out to be real; and a woman who eats a burrito with roach eggs, that then hatch in her body.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
Derrickson’s feature directorial debut was the fifth installment in the legendary Hellraiser franchise. A corrupt detective, whose interests include drugs, infidelity, stealing evidence, and – strangely enough – puzzles, opens up the infamous puzzle box and is drawn into the realm of the Cenobites while destroying his grip on reality. Reviews were genuinely mixed, but one factor sticks out: the gore and violence is replaced with psychological mind games and a gritty noir reality that makes it a cut above your usual direct-to-video franchise sequel.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose was Derrickson’s first directorial feature to be released theatrically. It is based on the real life story of Anneliese Michel, a German Catholic woman who was believed to be possessed. The Catholic church authorized an exorcism on Anneliese, but she died, and the priest and her parents were convicted of negligent homicide. Emily Rose intertwines scenes of exorcism and demonic possession with courtroom drama, and though the real story of Anneliese is often thought to be the result of religious hysteria and mistreatment of psychological disorder, Emily Rose leaves some ambiguity as to whether Emily’s possession was real.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Derrickson made his move into blockbuster tentpole films with this remake of the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Replacing the Cold War backdrop with environmental issues updated the film, which, to Derrickson, showed him that there was value in a new version of the movie. As a fan of the original Robert Wise film, Derrickson was concerned with making sure he paid proper respect to the original film, which many critics believe he did.
Derrickson returned to his horror roots with Sinister, which in my opinion is his best film to date. Haunting, dark, and scary, Sinister tells the tale of a true crime writer, Ellison Oswalt, who, unbeknownst to his wife and kids, moves them into the house that once belonged to the subject of his latest book. In the attic he finds Super-8 film reels that show the murders of the family who once lived in the house – as well as dozens of other murders. The snuff films were made all the more chilling because Derrickson shot them on actual Super-8 stock, a detail that was overlooked in the sequel.
The Devil’s Knot (2013)
Some critics thought that The Devil’s Knot tread familiar territory unnecessarily in this biopic which Derrickson produced and co-wrote. Based on the story of the West Memphis Three, The Devil’s Knot tells the story of three teenage boys who were convicted of sexual assault and murder of three children. It is widely believed that these teenagers were wrongly convicted because they liked heavy metal music, horror films, and were “different” than the rest of their town. A number of Academy Award-winning documentaries have been produced on the West Memphis Three, and, in general, critics didn’t believe that The Devil’s Knot introduced anything new or unique to the story.
Deliver Us From Evil (2014)
Though based on the real life experiences of a New York City detective, the plot of Deliver Us From Evil is wholly original, one that Derrickson wrote with his longtime writing/producing partner, Paul Harris Boardman. In the film, a cop discovers that several strange, violent crimes are connected to a trio of soldiers who just got back from deployment in Iraq. It turns out that they brought back a demon with them. Critics generally thought that Derrickson, behind the camera again, knew how to bring a creepy, foreboding atmosphere to an otherwise generic exorcism story.
Sinister 2 (2015)
Derrickson co-wrote this sequel with his Sinister writing partner, C. Robert Cargill, but he turned the director’s reigns over to Ciaran Foy (Citadel). Since the first film didn’t have a happy ending, Derrickson and Cargill had to turn the focus to Bughuul, and have him “haunt” another family. The deputy from the first film, since having left the force, has become obsessed with the Oswalt case and discovered the supernatural mystery behind the deaths. Sinister 2 didn’t have the same punch that the first one had, namely because the 8mm “snuff” films were just shot digitally like the rest of the film. It felt less authentic and reminded you it was just a movie.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Doctor Strange marks the first film that Derrickson will direct, but not write. Originally, he and Cargill were going to write the script, but Marvel president Kevin Feige worried they wouldn’t be able to make their 2016 release date. Jon Spaihts (Prometheus) was brought in to write the script, allowing Derrickson to focus on directing. At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Derrickson said that Doctor Strange would not just be another entrant into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but will “be the beginning of the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse.” He promises that Doctor Strange isn’t just going to have things blowing up, but was using 3D and “cutting-edge visual effects to do things that are fresh and new,” in the manner of surrealist art and M.C. Escher.
Which of these Scott Derrickson movies is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!