Your new movie House Monster
- in a few words, what is it about?
A struggling actress stays inside to survive a global pandemic. Something
follows her. Being alone is bad. Not being alone Ö is worse.
was filmed in the early days of the COVID-lockdown - so was this situation
actually the prime inspiration for your movie, or did you have the concept
as such in your drawer beforehands?
We were in pre-production for
my movie Bae Wolf when the pandemic hit. We delayed Bae Wolf. But I hate being
idle. And Iíve always resolved to make a movie per year. So we looked at
what we had -- a bunch of lonely, desperate cast and crew stuck in their homes
with their phones and webcams -- and wrote a movie around those resources.
(Other) sources of
inspiration when writing House Monster?
And is any of it autobiorgaphical?
My inspiration is every horror movie or
TV show that
hints at the monster in the corner but only slowly reveals it. Jaws.
Haunting of Hill House. Blair Witch. We also drew inspiration from
The Shining. The real horror, after all, is in our heroís head.
What can you tell us
about your co-writer Bradley J. Petit, and what was your collaboration
Brad is a fiction-writer and a longtime collaborator of mine. Usually
he acts in my movies. This time, he wrote some of the talkier scenes. We wrote
House Monster while shooting it, trying to stay a few scenes ahead of
production. Everyone was stressed out and the process was weird, so I really
needed help. I edited Bradís pages to keep the tone and pacing consistent,
but even so, I found that having his voice in there was healthy for the story.
Itís not always a good idea for a writer-director to have sole and total
control. Thatís how you wind up with M. Night Shyamalan movies that feel
kind of Ö off.
As House Monster
was filmed during lockdown - how did you even go about this logistically?
I had a loose outline and a script that
came together at a rate of a few pages per day. We started shooting in March
2020, before the script was done, and wrapped in May. The process was: I found
a day or two each week where actors were available. I found a scene that
included those people and figured out a rough schedule. Day or night? I made
sure that each actor had certain equipment: Webcams, sound recorders, lights,
lenses for their phones. Then I wrote a long, detailed list of instructions.
One step at a time, hereís what you need to do to set up your equipment and
shots, hereís how you should block it, here are the lines and story beats
you need to hit. The actors shot their own scenes, with me monitoring via
text. They sent me the raw footage. We reshot if necessary, but usually I just
made do. I then spent the next few days editing the previous scene while
planning and writing for the next one. Overall, it was a messy process, but we
got pretty good at it by the mid-way point. The big theater scenes, those we
shot with a small crew at the very end of production, as COVID was waning
talk about your movie's approach to both horror and humour for a bit!
I love genre but I hate clichť. And more than anything, I
hate one-dimensional monsters. Monsters are amazing creations. But in most
movies, they have almost no character or motivation. Theyíre just Ö
monstrous. Irrationally, unnaturally weird and mean. I always try to humanize
my monsters. After all, every thinking being also has feelings. Desires.
Fears. A lot of the humor in
House Monster grows out of the monsterís
surprising, but very human, behavior. The rest comes from Jennifer Hillís
Do talk about House Monster's
cast, and why exactly these people?
I cast people I knew were sitting at home, waiting out the pandemic. People
who needed something to keep them moving forward during this scary isolation.
Also, people I could trust to handle their own shots. Almost all of them --
Jennifer Hill, Mike Amason, Bradley J. Petit, Aaron Blomberg, Cleve Langdale
-- were people I had worked with many times before.
A few words about
the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
Overall, production was
fun, even if it was pretty chaotic at times. More importantly, it gave us all
a sense of purpose during a time of incredible despair. It was also an
exercise in mutual trust. I had to trust my actors to handle technical aspects
of filming that they werenít accustomed to. They had to trust me to glue
together this weird movie in a way that made sense.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of House Monster?
Almost no one
has seen it yet. Wild Eye releases it in mid-September. But our small test
screenings were successful. We showed it to people who donít always like
horror movies, and they responded positively. They all said they related to,
and sympathized with, Jenniferís character. But letís be frank,
House Monster is a small, weird movie. Weíre proud of it but weíre not
pretending itís going to make anyone rich or famous. Itís a fun way to
spend 70 minutes. Yes, I said 70 minutes. Itís short.
future projects you'd like to share?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
We finally managed to shoot
Bae Wolf, my goofy Beowulf
movie. Wild Eye should be releasing that next year.
website, social media, whatever else?
Follow me on Twitter at @daxe.
order House Monster on Amazon:
for the interview!