The horror genre has been on the rise lately, and some of the most recent original concepts have appeared in theaters thanks to Blumhouse. This is the case with “Black Phone,” in which Ethan Hawke plays, and which was released in theaters last weekend. And director Scott Derrickson recently explained to CinemaBlend the “creepy” reason he included the Super 8 movie in both “Black Phone” and his previous horror film “Sinister.”
Scott Derrickson may be famous for his work on Doctor Strange, but he’s a horror lover at heart. His films “Black Phone” and “Sinister” have some similarities: both star Ethan Hawke, and there are also creepy episodes filmed in the Super 8 movie. As you can see in the video above, I had the honor to talk to Derrickson before the release of the new horror movie, where he told why Super 8 is so works well in this genre. As he put it,
They’re shot on real Super 8 film. And I know there are things in apps, and there are programs that you can use when editing to make everything look like Super 8. Nothing looks or feels like a real Super 8 movie. It’s very grainy. And when you blow it up, especially on the big screen, the graininess is very peculiar. The color, the way it conveys the color, is different. It always seemed to me that this was the case, and this includes the Super 8 movies made by my grandfather that I watched on a home projector when I was a kid. They always seem a little creepy to me.
Looking at his work in both Sinister and The Black Phone, you can’t deny that Scott Derrickson is right. The Super 8 seems really unsettling, especially after being blown up on the big screen for a horror movie. And perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the way he used the Super 8 in his previous horror movie.
In the 2012 film Sinister, Ethan Hawke plays a detective writer who uncovers horrific violence and a demon named Buguul. During his journey, he discovers a Super 8 movie about various murders committed by children possessed by a demon. Each one is more disturbing than the next, mainly because of the creepy look of the footage.
In the “Black Phone” we also see how Super 8 is present throughout the 103-minute screening of the film. The sister of the young heroes, Gwen (Madeleine McGraw), visits psychic visions throughout the film, seeing how Ethan Hawke’s villain Grabber kidnaps his young victims. That’s when these creepy frames are used for impressive results. Later in the same conversation, Scott Derrickson explained this choice by saying:
They just feel a little unnerving, they feel anxious, they feel like they’ve captured something that maybe they shouldn’t have captured. There is something really unique about aesthetics. So I was very fascinated by this on Sinister. And then I felt like Gwen’s dreams in The Black Phone, looking back at the lives and abductions of these different children, I thought it was a great way to separate them from the rest of the visual material.
For those who don’t remember, you can watch the totally creepy Super 8 scenes from Sinister below. But buckle up, they’re scary and probably NSFW. However, you can’t deny how much the film itself helps set the tone.
Horror fans were thrilled that Scott Derrickson was returning to the horror genre with a “Black Phone.” And his latest collaboration with Ethan Hawke turned out to be a critics’ favorite, receiving an 84% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The film also showed good box office receipts in the first weekend.
“Black Phone” is already in theaters. Be sure to check out the release dates of the films in 2022 to plan your next movie.