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An Interview with M W Daniels, Director of House of Lexi

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2019

Films directed by M W Daniels on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie House of Lexi - in a few words, what is it about?

 

House of Lexi is about Lexi Stone who lost her sister Haley at birth and supposedly lost her mother in a car crash, and Lexi imagines her sister as an adult as she wants to see her grow up, but this turns on Lexi and begins to haunt her.

 

How closely could you actually identify with your lead character Lexi, and is anything about her and what she's going through based on personal experiences?

 

Lexi is basically myself. I was born in 1970 and my sister passed away as a baby in 1965 - I never met her but always wanted to imagine what she would look like now and be like now, so it's kind of a true story but with a made up story inside it.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing House of Lexi?

 

Music really inspired me when writing this story as it does for pretty much all my stories, especially as I compose all the music for my films. A Ligeti piece called Requiem inspired me and when it came time to record the soundtrack, I worked with Nicola Barney who is a mezzo soprano, and the Ligeti piece was a huge touchstone for the main title. My interest in loneliness, sadness and bleakness was a huge inspiration when writing House of Lexi.

 

House of Lexi is rather slowburn in its horror, so much so I'd almost call it morbidly lyrical - would you at all like to elaborate on that?

 

Yes the whole film pervades a sense of dread and sadness, so a sense of both beauty and darkness runs through it. The film concentrates on the sadness aspect of one individual but at the same time a huge hanging haunted feeling looms over the film. The blend of emotional power and haunting fear is something that interested me when writing House of Lexi.

 

A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

As there is not much dialogue, a lot of it relies on capturing those facial expressions and movements that express the lonely feeling of the film, and Emma Dark [Emma Dark interview - click here] was brilliant at acting that as she was with the dialogue. Im working on another film with Emma again in the lead role for next year.

 

Do talk about House of Lexi's cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Emma Dark who plays Lexi was perfect for the role, Lexi is very subtly affected by her mind, and Emma conveyed this amazingly. Helen Stephens who plays her sister Haley again fits the role brilliantly. Haley is a content soul and the complete antithesis to Lexi, Helen plays this with great atmosphere. Jane Garioni plays Mary, who is Lexi's emotionally attached neighbour and Jane really is Mary in that part. Loving but brooding at the same time, and very obsessed by Lexi. Sean Francis Mclaughlin plays Mary's paramedic husband Derek and is very thoughtful in the part. Agnieszka Dolejsz plays Lexi's mother and in her acting debut is amazing. Again a wonderful sense of brooding and love hangs over her character. Jools Green and Hannah Short are the new house occupants and both play their parts perfectly. I am always extremely careful who is cast, and in every film I do all the actors completely fit the roles.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

The atmosphere on set is always great, everyone gets on well and when you're making a serious psychological horror film the mood is always the far opposite to the film's mood, so everyone is very relaxed and jovial. We filmed the house scenes at Agnieszkas house in north London and the beach scenes in Whitstable, which is famous for where Peter Cushing lived. We filmed it in two 6 hour days.

 

The $64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?

 

I have entered the film for various film festivals all over the world so I should know soon if they have accepted the film or not. It may be online eventually as a pay-per-view and on DVD/Blu-ray but that will be a very long time off I think.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of House of Lexi?

 

The few people who have seen it and reviewed it so far have loved the film. The creepy atmosphere of the film has been something that has resonated with them. It's very early days yet so hopefully more reviews soon.

 

Any other projects of yours you'd like to share?

 

My first film Being Without is a psychological drama and is doing well in festivals; it got the final of the Gold Movie Awards, which is a major film festival. The Affliction Table is a non-dialogue horror short and is also in festivals this summer, and Emily's Hands starring Jenny Runacre who was in The Witches, The Mackintosh Man, Jubilee, The New Avengers, The Final Programme, The Creeping Flesh etc. Its a psychological drama/horror 9 minute short and is also is festivals soon. There are 4 or 5 films ready to work on as well. 

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I got into filmmaking through a friend back in 2011, and met Nicolai Kornum who is the DOP/sound editor/editor, and I continue to learn from him on every film we do.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I am very patient and look for that inspiration with people I work with; I care very much about detail in the films and the getting the right atmosphere. I compose all the music for my films so getting a specific atmosphere is extremely important. When I type a script and when that comes to life it is amazingly rewarding. The sense of achievement personally for me is fantastic. Im very proud of everyone I work with on the films, without them it just would not happen. All fantastic and very talented people.

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Robert Fuest, Mary Harron, Eric Rohmer, Victor Sjstrm, Kathryn Bigelow, Pasolini, Alfred Hitchcock, David Cronenberg.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

There are so many, so I will pick the ones that inspire me when writing: Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Elephant Man, Blow Up (1966), Stage Struck, The Fly (1986), Freaks, I Daniel Blake, My Night at Maud's, The Phantom Carriage, The Final Programme, The Invisible Man (1933).

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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American Psycho 2, Hereditary, Titanic, Hellraiser 3, Martyrs remake.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

Facebook.com/lexiishaunted

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Thanks so much for the interview it is much appreciated, and keep an eye out for my upcoming films in festivals and more.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD