Awash with classic haunted house horror influences – a family home subverted and children falling under the spell of malign powers – Scott Derickson’s Sinister clearly draws from some of the titans in supernatural suspense, so it’s no surprise that he was originally involved in MGM’s proposed Poltergeist reboot, now in the hands of Evil Dead director Sam Raimi.
“I had done that some years earlier,” recalls Derickson, putting distance between the two projects in an exclusive interview with SciFiNow.
“I only did one rewrite on it and I’m not involved in the present one – that was a rewrite before MGM was bought out, and I believe they’re just kind of starting over, so my script doesn’t have anything to do with the remake that they’re doing.
“But I think Poltergeist is a good example of perfect family-moves-into-a-haunted-house movie, and when I did do that rewrite it was a little depressing the further I got into it because the more I studied Poltergeist the more I realised it’s just perfect the way it is – it really is just pretty much perfect.
“The visual effects don’t hold up, but who cares? And the movie itself is just amazing, so you know, the idea that the hopeful processes of a home becoming something that’s terrifying is primal I think for a domestic audience.”
As for what did make its way into the Ethan Hawke-starred chiller, it’s a mixture of the expected horror heavyweights and a couple of the more unexpected…
“There were really two films that I went back to,” recalls the director. “I went back to horror films of the late Sixties starting with Repulsion and Rosemary’s Baby, and right through to the 1980s with The Shining – just that era of non-slasher, character-driven horror films, and that’s probably my favourite era of horror.
“The Exorcist, The Omen, The Changeling… I also revisited some of my favourite thrillers from the same era – Klute, Brian DePalma’s Blow Out. Those films, especially Blow Out, end up having a lot more influence on the movie than I expected. Klute was probably the main inspiration for the movie in terms of the extreme darkness of the film.”