How 'The Black Phone' makes nostalgia scary again

The Black Phone director Scott Derrickson explains why he wanted to make nostalgia scary again.

The Black Phone is in UK cinemas now.

Video transcript

CLARISSE LOUGHREY: Culturally, there has been such a surge of nostalgia for the 70s and 80s. The sort of ambling entertainment, kids on bikes, "Stranger Things" sort of vibe. And I love that here it's so brutal. And was there a part of you that was consciously trying to push back on that nostalgia?

SCOTT DERRICKSON: Yeah, you know, I love "Stranger Things". I really do. I'm on like episode five of the new season. It's terrific.

But, but I did grow a little weary of consistently seeing stories where middle school kids in these sort of paranormal fantastical films. We're always coming from the same Spielbergian, suburban universe. And I felt like we're always interpreting an entire age of child, an era of growing up through the window of what was released. Steven Spielberg's legacy in "E.T.", and "Poltergeist", and, "Close Encounters", and all these different movies.

My own friend next door knocked on my door when I was 9, and I opened the door and he was crying. And he said, somebody murdered my mom, and his mother had been abducted and raped and wrapped in phone cord and thrown in the local Lake. And the movie "Halloween" had come out, you know, in Friday the 13th. So the idea of the serial killer the killer that could just take you off the street was very present.

My main association with child-- my own childhood is fear. I just remember being afraid all the time. And I think that that's common for a lot of people. And so I think trying to go back and not be nostalgic about that era and not be fetishizing about the fashion or the things that we think are really charming about the Arabic.

I tried to go back and recreate what North Denver in 1978 felt like to me. I tried to be as specific as I could in creating that feeling. And it's great because I think the more specifically you create something like that, the more universal it is. And no matter what people's upbringing is, they can feel the authenticity of that and they can relate to that. And that's what cinema can do very uniquely.

MASON THAMES: With Ethan, I remember the first one that I filmed with him was the abduction scene, so. And I remember after like a cool little stunt we did, they yelled cut and he said, you are right kid? And I said, yeah, yeah I'm fine. And gave me like a noogie on the head in which I think, I think I have a picture of it somewhere. But, yeah.

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