I’ll confess: I’m a film critic, and I’ll watch most anything, but there’s one genre I avoid, and that’s horror. Especially supernatural horror. As I told my husband after I watched The Exorcism of Emily Rose, I don’t need to be convinced that the supernatural exists.
But then again, others do – and writer/director Scott Derrickson lives in that world. A Christian and a celebrated horror filmmaker, his film Deliver Us From Evil releases this week, and he was recently tapped to direct Marvel’s Dr. Strange.
Nick Olson got to interview Scott for Christianity Today, and the interview is well worth reading, even if you, like me, don’t watch horror films:
Your thoughts here remind me that I’ve always thought of you as an artist working in the same way as someone like novelist Flannery O’Connor who, while primarily wanting to tell a good story, also thought that we couldn’t return to good unless we fully understood the depths of evil. Your filmography in the horror genre has seemed to me similar to her literary use of the grotesque. Is there a sense in which you’re hopeful that a byproduct of providing a good scare might also be to shock people out of a comfortable nihilism?
Flannery O’Connor is my creative hero. I think she’s the greatest American writer. Her book, Mystery and Manners, is my creative bible. I’m humbled by the comparison. She’s a true American treasure.
She said to the deaf you have to shout and to the blind you have to draw large and startling pictures. That phrase itself is as good of an apologetic for horror as you’re ever going to speak.
What I love about her work and what I’m still learning is the manner in which she trusted the complexities of narrative to place her readers in the right range to gather what they needed or to miss it if they weren’t prepared for it. In the end her stories are like moral mazes, and you’re not going to be able to get to the end and have a clean takeaway but she will have placed you in an arena of thought until you’ve worked something out.
She does all that while being shocking and entertaining and giving you a great tale. If there’s an artist’s philosophy that I aspire to, it’s hers. There’s a love of mystery there.