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Exclusive: Director Scott Derrickson talks 'Deliver Us From Evil'

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On Tuesday, June 24, 2014, Screen Gems and The Cinema Society hosted a screening of "Deliver Us From Evil" at the SVA Theater. From the film: Eric Bana, Olivia Munn, Edgar Ramírez, Joel McHale, Dorian Missick, director Scott Derrickson, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, and NYPD Sergeant Ralph Sarchie (on whom the movie is based) all walked the red carpet. In the film, police officer Ralph Sarchie investigates a series of crimes. He joins forces with an unconventional priest, schooled in the rituals of exorcism, to combat the possessions that are terrorizing their city. The film is inspired by true events.

Was it difficult to make the film scary?

It's always difficult to make a scary movie, you have to do everything just right or else the scariness won't work.

What's the secret to your success?

You have to start with good characters so that the audience will believe them, well-written then you have to get good actors to play them, that's the first thing. Then there's the trade in terms of the pacing of how long this shot lasts and then in post production you have to have the right sound or lack of sound, it's a skill, it's almost like telling a joke on one hand you can either do it or you can't but it's always kind of hard to explain what makes a joke funny.

Did anything scary happen on set?

Not to me, I never had any scary experience on set, for me the scary part is always writing because I'm trying to scare myself at that point and what I'm thinking about and that's usually when things kind of mess with my head a little bit.

What was the most surprising moment for you in your research and preparation for this story?

I think the most surprising thing for me was going with the real Ralph to the precinct in the Bronx and seeing what a hardcore cop he was and hearing how much respect that other officers had for him. He was in a high crime precinct at the time that he was there. It was the most violent in the country and he was undercover every night with what was called special opps street crime division where the team of guys under him was trying to catch crime in progress so he was always getting into fights, he was shot and he just saw a lot of evil things that other people hadn't seen and the fact that, that guy started investigating paranormal and then became an assistant to an exorcist, to me that's movie worthy.

Tell us what it was like collaborating with Eric Bana.

Well because I got to know the real Ralph so well. He's a huge personality and I needed an actor to play a big personality and I think Eric is at his best when he's playing these larger than life characters like "Chopper" or Nero in "Star Trek" or "Hoot" in "Black Hawk Down," so I thought Eric could take on the weight of this character and do the blue collar Queens accent that the real Ralph has and I also buy Eric as a cop, so he kind of fit the bill.

I was wondering what in particularly scares you and what fascinates you about Exorcisms?

I'm less scared by them than I am fascinated by them and what fascinates me by them is that unlike other horror movie components like vampires or werwolves and zombies, exorcisms are facts they happen and they've happened in most of human history and what I am really fascinated by is that when you look deep into it and you look at the most credible cases or the movies that I've seen or recordings that I've heard there's just such a profound sense of mystery behind them makes you think that it's definitely more than just mental problems or people being hysterical

What was the most challenging thing about filming this movie?

The June that we shot this movie in was the rainiest June I think maybe ever and then the July was really hot so we went from really battling the coldness of the night rain ... to July heat. This was in the Bronx with a lot of locations, so it was a physically grueling shoot that was probably the hardest thing about it then a couple of days in Abu Dhabi when it was about 115 degrees so when I think about this movie there's a particular physical exhaustion I remember feeling.

The party was at The Skylark, and people drank Qui Tequila cocktails (named Priest's Potion and Dark Spirit, in keeping with the film).