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Friday, May 1, 2015

From the Mouths of Horror Filmmakers: John Wildman

John Wildman with wife/The Ladies of the House co-writer Justina Walford


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 John Wildman, director/co-writer of festival hit, THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE, which is available today on VOD from Gravitas Ventures.

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?

I think those films, and there are others (A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT, HOUSEBOUND, COHERENCE) that are not simply churning out tired and formulaic material, just "playing the hits" so to speak, but are legitimately trying for something new and reaching for something more. And even though the horror genre has its well-worn tropes and clichés, etc. and these films still to one extent or another touch on them or utilize them, you can easily see and feel that they are at the service of a greater ambition.

My wife, Justina Walford, and I enjoy working on horror projects and ideas because we can hit on political or sociological topics from what we hope will not be an obvious angle. In the films mentioned above, frequently the "horror" is just a gateway to the themes the filmmaker is delving into or the "horror" sneaks up on you (as much as it can since the marketing and advertising has confirmed that it is at least part of the film's intention) while the characters are dealing with logistical or emotional issues.

As far as why we have had a recent spate of these films, I'd think part of it is that we have some "new" filmmakers on the scene that clearly have some great ideas and those ideas are just as clearly not to rehash what has been done before and to just cash in. And thank goodness for that.      

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

Well, I would say it's encouraging, and it's fantastic when a film like that is embraced by a larger audience. However, the reality is still that we are changing the way we watch movies and with that change comes a new reality in how we will make them on a low-low budget, non-studio level. But any time a film like IT FOLLOWS or THE BABADOOK gets a wider release and people in the multiplexes get easy access to it, then it is a great thing because it chips away at the ghettoization of horror and genre film and filmmakers.

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

People will always be attracted to scary movies. The vast majority of us either crave the experience of having our pulse rate driven through the roof as we vicariously watch someone struggle to survive some frightening menace, or at the very least, we are intrigued and curious about taking that scary journey. The horror genre has always been evergreen because of that. You don't need to be brilliant or have an exceedingly accomplished education to know if something scares the crap out of you and have fun with that emotional rollercoaster ride. Meanwhile, that ride can introduce you to some issues in a fun or creative way that might be didactic coming in the form of a straight drama. Or, it can reflect society's current fears and anxieties in a less obvious way - and thus serve as a release valve for that angst.       

What's your favorite horror movie?

The inspiration (though not technically horror): OLDBOY (the original)
The dynamic duo: MARTYRS, INSIDE

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