Scott Derrickson confirms VHS segment connection to The Black Phone and Sinister

(Image credit: Shudder)

In an exclusive interview with GamesRadar+ ahead of the release of VHS85, director Scott Derrickson shared that the biggest inspiration behind his VHS segment Dreamkill was his past movies, "I didn't draw inspiration from any other films except for Sinister and The Black Phone." The Doctor Strange director explained that he used Super 8 footage to add a layer of evocative erieness to the piece just as he had done in Sinister, but in terms of the storyline, Derrickson was majorly influenced by his latest feature film The Black Phone.

Ahead of the release of VHS85, Derrickson revealed that when he was first approached by the VHS team he took a step back, but when he realized he could incorporate themes he had explored in his past movies in a found footage short, he jumped in feet first. His addition to the latest VHS movie follows a teenage boy named Gunther, played by his son Dashiell Derrickson, as he begins to have, as the title suggests, violent dreams of murders that record themselves onto VHS tapes and then later come true. Sound familiar? That’s because the same thing happens in his latest feature movie The Black Phone starring Ethan Hawke, as a masked child murderer out to kidnap and imprison little boys.

In The Black Phone, released in 2022, a teen named Finney Shaw is abducted by the masked lunatic and locked in a soundproof basement where an unconnected telephone yields calls from the killer’s slayed victims. But the phone is not the only supernatural element in the movie, as Finely's little sister Gwen has psychic dreams of the kidnappings that later come true. Derrickson revealed that he decided to reuse the intuitive dreams in Dreamkill and even found a way to mention little Gwen. "There's a little Easter egg where it is revealed that Gunther's cousin Gwen had the same psychic dreams. Well, that's referring to Gwen from The Black Phone."

Later in the interview, Derickson divulged that he chose to use a Super 8 effect on the VHS dream tapes just as he had done to the haunted tapes that encapsulate the vicious murders in Sinister, to add a sense of retro eerieness and fit in with the overall '80s theme. This can be seen throughout the whole VHS85 movie from other filmmakers in the franchise's latest anthology, following tales from the gruesome underbelly of the mid-'80s.

VHS85 will be available to stream on Shudder on October 6. For more, check out our list of the most exciting upcoming movies heading our way in 2023 and beyond.

Editorial Associate, GamesRadar+

I am an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering TV and film for SFX and Total Film online. I have a Bachelors Degree in Media Production and Journalism and a Masters in Fashion Journalism from UAL. In the past I have written for local UK and US newspaper outlets such as the Portland Tribune and York Mix and worked in communications, before focusing on film and entertainment writing. I am a HUGE horror fan and in 2022 I created my very own single issue feminist horror magazine.