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(Credit: Gage Skidmore)


Scott Derrickson picks his five favourite horror films of all time


You’d be forgiven for not knowing the director of Doctor Strange or Sinister, Scott Derrickson, at this moment in time, though if his impressive reputation in cinema continues, he may even become a household name. 

First rising to success in 2005 with the release of the surprisingly impressive exorcist horror thriller The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Derrickson went on to gain the trust of major Hollywood executives, helming the 2008 remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still with Keanu Reeves and Jaden Smith. Though the film was poorly received across the board, this didn’t halt Derrickson’s progress. 

Garnering commercial and critical praise for his dark 2012 horror Sinister, Derrickson was quickly recruited to join Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe and direct the peculiar magical adventure of Doctor Strange in 2016. Now, he’s about to release his sixth movie, The Black Phone, with a handful of exciting projects on the horizon too. Remember the name. 

Thanks to The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister and the forthcoming release of The Black Phone, Derrickson has developed quite the reputation for horror, taking the time to speak with MovieZine to discuss his top five favourites from the genre. 

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His first pick goes to the classic Roman Polanski horror-thriller Repulsion, starring Catherine Deneuve, John Fraser and Ian Hendry. Telling the story of a sex-repulsed woman who disapproves of her sister’s boyfriend and sinks into depression, Polanski’s film is well-known as a classic of the horror genre, even if Derrickson counts states that it’s “not quite horror, but I think it qualifies”.

Second on Derrickson’s top five list goes to the South Korean action horror movie I Saw The Devil, about a serial killer who goes head to head with a secret agent through several deadly traps and captures. Calling the film “horrifying,” the Sinister director strongly recommends the Asian thriller starring Lee Byung-hun, Choi Min-sik, Jeon Gook-hwan and Ho-jin Chun.

“If you haven’t seen Suspiria, the Italian horror film is one of my top three favourite horror films,” Derrickson states for his third pick. Recently remade by Luca Guadagnino, the original from Dario Argento tells the story of an American newcomer to a prestigious German ballet academy who comes to realize that the school is a front for something sinister amid a series of grisly murders.

The Changeling by director Peter Medak takes the fourth spot on the list, with Derrickson calling the film a “great haunted house movie”. Starring George C. Scott, the eerie 1980 horror is a quintessential classic that often finds its way onto ‘best of all time’ lists, with its sharp story following a music professor staying at a long-vacant Seattle mansion who is dragged into a decades-old mystery by an inexplicable presence in the mansion’s attic.

Scott Derrickson’s five favourite horror films:

  • Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)
  • I Saw the Devil (Kim Jee-woon, 2010)
  • Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
  • The Changeling (Peter Medak, 1980)
  • The Innocents (Jack Clayton, 1961)

Capping off the list is the 1961 film The Innocents with Deborah Kerr and Martin Stephens. A favourite of Goodfellas and Killers of the Flower Moon director Martin Scorsese as well as Derrickson, The Innocents is a classic, creeping thriller that remains effective thanks to its timeless lead performances. The ghost tale tells the story of a young governess for two children who becomes convinced that the grand house and grounds are haunted by a sinister presence. 

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