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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

From the Mouths of Horror Filmmakers: Ciarán Foy

Ciaran Foy © NIFFF (Gaël Dupret)

With the success of IT FOLLOWS and the recent discussions it has sparked about the number of original, critically-acclaimed indie horror films being released, I wanted to reach out to some of the most original voices in horror cinema to ask them a few questions about the state of horror cinema today and why they believe there has been a resurgence of sorts of great horror.

The responses below are from Ciarán Foy, director of the highly-anticipated Sinister 2 and SXSW Midnight Audience Award-winner, Citadel.

Why do you believe there has been a surge of critically-acclaimed horror films recently like IT FOLLOWS, THE BABADOOK, YOU'RE NEXT, and others?

Most of these are indie releases, and I think the biggest surge is more to do with the fact that we hear about these movies today than the fact that they exist.  Every year there are great horror films on the festival circuit and most will fade into oblivion.  Some win festival awards or garner great word of mouth and get picked up.  But many we'll never hear about.  The difference in 2015 has a lot to do with technology and the fact that almost everyone today has a smartphone - social media, streaming and something that gets overlooked - download speeds can exponentially effect a good movie getting its due notice.  I can watch a movie trailer on my device in HD while I travel.  You couldn't do that a few years ago.  So word travels fast.  And genre fans are parched for good material.  

What do you think the wide release of IT FOLLOWS means for future indie horror films, if anything?

People will always want to go see good horror movies.  It's convincing the distributors and exhibitors a certain project will find an audience.  They are nervous, they second guess, they don't want to financially be in trouble.  After all, it is a business at that end of the spectrum.  You must remember, IT FOLLOWS grew.  I would wager that if a movie like IT FOLLOWS was released five years ago it would not have gone wide.  But today word travels at lightspeed and this positive word of mouth alleviates some of the nervousness the distributors and exhibitors feel and gives them the confidence to go wider with the release.

Why do you believe horror films are important to cinema as a whole?

I think horror films, the best ones, are important because they give us the opportunity to try to understand our own fears and the nature of terror and allow us to take note of the fact that life, like nature, is both beautiful and horrific.  You cannot have light without creating shadow.  Also gothic stories force us to consider death and in doing so, teach us to embrace life all the more so.  In terms of cinema, I believe horror is important as there are few genres that require the kind of inventiveness of craft in different disciplines in order to be effective and work - dramatically striking use of lighting, operatic camera work, sensual and affecting sound design, audacious use of make-up, brash use of editing to create shock and to build suspense and dread, etc.  It is cinema at its most bold and inventive, and I believe this is important for the craft in general.  

What's your favorite horror movie?

Goes between JAWS and JACOB'S LADDER depending on the time of the month!

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