Exclusive Interview with ‘Deliver Us From Evil’ Writer/Director Scott Derrickson

Scott Derrickson Deliver Us from Evil Interview
Eric Bana, Scott Derrickson, Olivia Munn, Jerry Bruckheimer, Edgar Ramirez, and Joel McHale at the 2014 WonderCon. (Photo © Richard Chavez)

By Rebecca Murray

Scott Derrickson is no stranger to the world of horror films having written and directed The Exorcism of Emily Rose and 2012’s Sinister as well as having directed the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. He continues his work in the genre with the 2014 film Deliver Us From Evil based on the book by Ralph Sarchie and Lisa Collier Cool. The film, and the book, tell the story of New York Police Officer Sarchie’s work with a priest to fight “frightening and demonic possessions” across the city.

At the 2014 WonderCon in Anaheim, CA to discuss the film, Derrickson joined his cast members Eric Bana, Edgar Ramirez, Olivia Munn, and Joel McHale on the red carpet to talk about the Screen Gems film Deliver Us From Evil which is heading to theaters on July 2, 2014.

Scott Derrickson Interview

What is the appeal of horror movies for you? This is a genre you like to dwell in.

Scott Derrickson: “Yeah. I’ve always loved them. I love all genres of movies but I think I love horror because I think it’s the most cinematic genre. You can do more with it in terms of picture and sound than you can in most genres. I like that it’s a genre of ideas. You can do with moral subject matter in a way in horror films in a way that you can’t in other kinds of pictures. And I think I’m pretty good at so I think you have to go with what you have a knack for.”

How difficult was it to adapt the book for the screen and did you worry about sticking exactly to the story, or did you take some artistic liberty?

Scott Derrickson: “We took some artistic liberty but Ralph Sarchie is a real guy and he was involved in the production, and so what I was mostly concerned with was capturing him, telling his story, who he was as a person and who he is now, the way he functions, and the way he talks, who he is as a cop, who he is as an investigator of the paranormal, all of that. I think we got that really well. The book that he wrote that we adapted was really a series of smaller stories. It was a bunch of vignettes, in a way. That’s not a movie, so the trick of the screenplay was in turning all of that into one story that would string some of those episodes together.”

Do you have to be a believer to direct a movie like this?

Scott Derrickson: “No, but it helps. William Friedkin says that the reason The Exorcist was so effective was that he approached it as a believer. I think that if there’s some aspect to what you’re conveying in a movie that you do have personal belief in, it scares you more as a director. It affects you more personally. And if it affects you personally as a director, I think that translates to the screen.”

How come it took so long to get this one to the screen?

Scott Derrickson: “You know, with movies there’s always all kinds of different reasons. I think it was just not time. It was a process of the screenplay getting right in the end. The first draft that I wrote way back in 2004, I don’t think that that would have been anywhere near the movie that we ended up making. There were other writers that came in and rewrote it before I came back and completely rewrote it again. It was just its time.”

Why did you keep coming back to it?

Scott Derrickson: “I came back for the character. I had finished Sinister and Clint Culpepper, the head of Screen Gems, took me to lunch and asked me what I wanted to do next. I told him about this project and I told him that I didn’t think that the script would be good enough to start shooting, but that there was something in that character and something in the story of Ralph Sarchie’s life that was always really fascinating to me and that I thought would connect with an audience.”

When Ralph saw the finished cut what did he say?

Scott Derrickson: “He hasn’t seen it yet.”

He hasn’t seen it?

Scott Derrickson: “No, no. He’s saving it for the premiere. He read the script and he approved everything that was in there. He was actually our cop adviser so he was on the set every day. He was the guy who would make sure the actors did everything properly as cops, the way they would draw a gun, the way they would clear a room, all that was his job to make sure that that was all authentic.”

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