Cinema Spotlight on Scott Derrickson Part V: ‘Devil’s Knot’ and ‘Sinister 2’


The Memphis Three, as portrayed in 2013’s Devil’s Knot

Manuel Ramirez, Staff Reporter

Back in 2013, while working on Deliver Us from Evil, another movie called Devil’s Knot was released through VOD (video on demand) and got a limited theatrical run on May 9. Based on the real case of the West Memphis Three, in which three teens were accused of killing three eight-year-olds in a suspected satanic ritual, what follows is the mystery of the crime, the investigation that went through as well as the many faults that were made during the case.

This story has been the subject of several documentaries, many produced by HBO and a more recent one produced by Peter Jackson (Director of The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogy) back in 2012; the clips and trailers got me more captivated than the film adaptation as it had a pace that dragged on for the most part.

There are some good acting performances from the main leads Reese Witherspoon, Colin Firth, and Dane DeHaan in a small role, as well as the actors portraying the Memphis three. Derrickson wrote the screenplay with Paul Harris Boardman (The Exorcism of Emily Rose and Deliver Us from Evil) and even though he didn’t direct, the film has his fingerprints from the religious topics and a courtroom setting that was reminiscent of Emily Rose.

Before watching this movie I never heard of the West Memphis Three, and if there is anything that this film achieved is that it introduced me to a story that needs to be told. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I was heartbroken when the film ended as it paid tribute to the victims, with the hopes that one day, justice will prevail.

2015 saw the return of the haunted Super 8 projector in Sinister 2, where Derrickson wrote and directed the first Sinister movie, here he only wrote and produced the second installment. In this story, a mother and her two sons are hiding from their abusive father at an isolated farm that brought to mind Children of the Corn; once again things take a sinister turn as one of the boys discovers that they are not alone as he stumbles across a box containing a film projector and some very disturbing movie reels. James Ransone returns as the unnamed deputy from the previous film tracking down these sinister schemes and putting an end to its killing spree.

While not as in-depth as the first film, I surprisingly still enjoyed this movie. Ransone’s deputy, who was my favorite character in the first flick, continues to be great in this sequel as the unexpected hero thrust into a dangerous situation. He doesn’t know what he is up against or understands it, and even though his attempts are feeble he gives it his all to comprehend and combat this unseen evil.

The story of the first film isn’t repeated, the sequel presents it from a kid’s point of view most of the time and presents a more frightening situation since a child’s mind can be easily corrupted. Continuing Derrickson’s religious themes the movie starts at a confessional, a few lines are said from a priest and how evil likes to twist religion and art in a perverse manner.

If there is one thing that first film did better is restraining its disturbing imagery, it didn’t show in great detail its graphic content, where in this film it comes close to treading onto Saw territory that I couldn’t look at the screen several times. The other is that it ends with the possibility of another sequel that has me more worried than excited. If the inevitable occurs here’s to hoping that it follows in the footsteps of The Conjuring than Paranormal Activity.

Cinema Spotlight will conclude with a review of Derrckson’s newest movie that is also one of the most highly anticipated films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.