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Scott Derrickson Explains The ‘Creepy’ Reason He Includes Super 8 Film In Both The Black Phone And Sinister

The horror genre has been on a roll lately, with some of the most recent original concepts coming to theaters courtesy of Blumhouse. That’s the case with The Black Phone which stars Ethan Hawke and arrived in theaters last weekend. And director Scott Derrickson recently explained to CinemaBlend the “creepy” reason he included Super 8 film into both The Black Phone and his previous horror flick Sinister

Scott Derrickson might be a household name thanks to his work directing Doctor Strange, but he’s a horror buff at heart. His movies The Black Phone and Sinister have some similarities: both star Ethan Hawke and feature creepy sequences shot in Super 8 film. As you can see in the video above, I had the privilege of speaking with Derrickson before the new horror movie’s release, where he revealed why Super 8 works so well within the genre. As he put it,

They’re filmed on actual Super 8 film. And I know there’s things on apps, and there’s programs you can use in editing to make things look like Super 8. Nothing looks and feels like actual Super 8 film. It’s very grainy. And when you blow it up, especially on the big screen, the grain is very peculiar. The color, the way it captures color is different. The way it is has always felt to me, and this includes Super 8 films that would find that my grandfather shot that I would watch on the home projector when I was a kid. They always feel a little creepy to me.

From seeing his work in both Sinister and The Black Phone, you can’t deny that Scott Derrickson has a point. Super 8 feels truly unsettling, especially once it's blown up on a big screen for a horror flick. And perhaps nowhere is that more obvious than the ways he used Super 8 in his previous scary movie.

Mason Thames in The Black Phone

(Image credit: Blumhouse/Universal )

2012’s Sinister features Ethan Hawke as a true-crime writer who uncovers horrifying violence and a demon named Bughuul. Through his journey he discovers Super 8 film of various murders done by children who were possessed by the demon. Each one is more unsettling than the next, largely because of the creepy way the footage looks.

In The Black Phone, we also see Super 8 peppered throughout the movie’s 103-minute runtime. The young protagonists’s sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) has psychic visions throughout the movie, seeing Ethan Hawke’s villain The Grabber abduct his young victims. That’s when that creepy footage is used, to powerful results. Later in our same conversation, Scott Derrickson explained this choice, saying:

They just feel a little unnerving, they feel unsettling, they feel like they capture something that maybe they weren't supposed to capture. There’s something about the aesthetic that’s really unique. So I became very fascinated with that on Sinister. And then I felt like Gwen’s dreams in The Black Phone on looking back on the lives and abductions of these different kids, I thought it was a great medium to separate it from the rest of the visual material.

For those who don’t remember, you can check out the thoroughly creepy Super 8 scenes from Sinister below. But buckle up, they’re scary and probably NSFW. Still, you can’t deny how much the film itself helps to set the tone.

Horror fans were thrilled that Scott Derrickson was returning to the horror genre with The Black Phone. And his latest collaboration with Ethan Hawke proved to be a critical darling, sitting on a 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie also performed fairly well at the box office on its first weekend.

The Black Phone is in theaters now. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Corey Chichizola

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.