Sinister is no different, as our investment relies heavily on Ethan Hawke’s uncovering of the Bughuul legend and how he slowly descends into madness, but another aspect highlights how Derrickson works with every actor. Sinister is greatly aided by a team of child stars who lurk in the shadows while generating some heart-stopping scares. These children don’t have the experience Hawke does, yet Derrickson is still able to extract amazing material out of each young talent, from soul-sapping blank stares to exploited innocence. Derrickson displays a strong sense of direction that benefits his horror movies, but he also understands that characters are just as important as the scares themselves.
This attitude can only benefit Deliver Us From Evil, once again giving Derrickson a crack at satanic horror. Assembling a cast that includes Eric Bana, Édgar Ramírez, Joel McHale, and Olivia Munn, the director has plenty of seasoned veterans who no doubt will be able to understand Derrickson’s specific sights for each scene. Deliver Us From Evil blends characters who are forced into exorcisms, as well as a cop trying to come to terms with the paranormal happenings infiltrating typically cut-and-dry explanations, hitting on both dynamics introduced during The Exorcism Of Emily Rose and Sinister.
Another trait unique to Derrickson is a consistently grounded approach to horror. Nothing is flamboyant, nothing is overdone, and we’re never thrown off atmospherically during the whole storytelling process. The Exorcism Of Emily Rose enjoys this benefit on a much greater scale, being based on a true story in its own right, but Derrickson only includes material that will benefit plotting—Emily’s case flies by with ease as we jump between a courtroom setting and the quaint Rose farmhouse, despite the two-hour run time. Sinister shows the same restraint and meticulous calculations, only increasing in momentum as time goes on. Derrickson always presses forward with material, and even when moments get slower, we’re still entranced by a story that slowly reveals piece after piece of crucial information.