The Marvel Cinematic Universe is headed somewhere strange this month, Doctor Strange to be exact. Taking the cult mystic comic of the same name, Scott Derrickson looks to be perfecting his mad visuals for a visually arresting, cosmic blockbuster. Before the grand debut of the Sorcerer Supreme, we’re looking at the work of Derrickson, pre-MCU, filled with remakes, scares and some surprisingly interesting work.
Hellraiser: Inferno (2000)
Just another entry in the long running Clive Barker-created franchise, gone is any of the interest at this point, as with all of those great 80s horror films that spawned a billion boring follow-ups. Still, it’s proof that starting in crappy sequels can usually bring about good things. After all, Peter Jackson was once slated to write and possibly direct a Freddy Kruger sequel. Here of course there is a decidedly small amount of the strange S&M horror.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
Apparently, although not really, based on real events. Laura Linney stars as a defence attorney trying to defend priest Tom Wilkinson when Jennifer Carpenter dies under his exorcism efforts. Part legal drama, part balls-out horror film, the interesting conceit is the dual versions, one where she is just a person and the other where there are big rampaging beasties possessing the poor girl. It’s scary in places, but always a very clever horror film with a little bit more going on beneath it.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Cardboard faced Keanu Reeves is woefully miscast in this dull retread of the 50s classic. Filling in for Michael Rennie, Reeves is out of his depth, more bad Spock impression than all knowing alien, and while the visual effects are of a higher quality there is little more here than before. Gone is the nuclear war subtext of the original, now it’s a global warming message. The supporting cast of Jennifer Connelly, Jaden Smith, Kathy Bates and John Cleese are all great, but it’s pointless, long and fairly silly.
Bringing a new monster to the silver screen in Bughuul, Ethan Hawke stars as the true crime writer who moves his family into the house that was the host to grizzly murders. Here, Derrickson finds his stylish groove with his masterful use of cliches and tropes, and not wimping out when it comes to the bleak ending. Best of all, a small cameo from Vincent D’Onofrio adds a little class to some of the more on-the-nose plot exposition.
Deliver Us from Evil (2014)
Apparently, but it’s impossible to really tell, based on true events, Derrickson does a decent job of bringing this demonic based tale to the big screen. Eric Bana is Ralph Sarchie, an NYPD sergeant who comes face to face with true evil when he meets Sean Harris, who might be possessed by the minions of Old Scratch himself. It’s not very scary, or unsettling, and Olivia Munn and Joel McHale are too well known for comedy to be taken seriously, but it gets some decent jumps in, and doesn’t scrimp on the visuals.
Doctor Strange (2016)
Big screen adaptation of the bananas comic books. Benedict Cumberbatch is Dr Stephen Strange, a world renowned surgeon who has his life ruined when a car accident destroys his hands. He trains in the mystical arts with Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong, while finding romance with Rachel McAdams and facing off against the evil Mads Mikkelsen. After taking chances on Ant-Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, there is little chance of this next edition doing any worse, so, let’s hope this is more funny, exciting Marvel fun.