Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sincerely, Psycopath: Creak

If you read this blog, then I assume you know the type of film that I love.  Therefore I can also assume that if you've read this blog and continue to do so that you're taste in film runs roughly in the same vein as least a little bit anyway.  That's why I want to tell you about a new short horror film called Creak by UK filmmaker Luther Bhogal-Jones.

When I first watched the film Mr. Bhogal-Jones told me that this film wasn't meant to reinvent the wheel.  It was meant as a short, fun "disposable" film.  That really struck me for a couple of reasons.  First off, I have long been a fan of what a good part of the world would consider "disposable films". B thru Z grade films that would only be run by some backwater cable station at 3am when they think no one is looking.  I truly love the type of film that no matter what time of day you watch always feels like it's the middle of the night.  This brings me to my second point:  As I sat there and thought about "disposable" films, I started to really assess what I considered good film to be.  Good art even. views may run askew of the mainstream and I'm okay with that.  Because that means there are others out there like me....and that what film is about...much like any art.

Creak does NOT fall into the B-Z Grade "Disposable" film category.  In a matter of five minutes, it manages to capture a chilling atmosphere that we're all experienced before.  Hell it's based off a real life incident, to a degree.  Every one of us has awoken in the middle of the night to a strange sound and felt the icy fingers of fear caress our spines as we go to make sure there isn't anyone in our homes.  It's a horrifying feeling and Creak does a fantastic job of capturing that.  Disposable?  Not by a long shot.  Hollywood should take some notes on how to make a horror film from Mr. Bhogal-Jones.

Luther tells me that this is the first in an ongoing series of horror films under the banner of "Sincerely, Psychopath" and I tell you, I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.  So here without further adieu, I give to you Creak.  Think twice about checking out that strange noise you hear tonight!


If you enjoyed the film as much as I did, please support the film and Luther by checking out Sincerely, Psychopath's Facebook Page and if you would like to know even more about the filmmaker hop on over to his Blog and read up!

I was fortunate to be able to ask Luther a few questions regarding the film, his work and his views on the genre:

1.)  How long did it take to make Creak, from concept to completion?

The script was written around the start of 2010 when my son was born, shooting took place in October that year and it had its first screening in September 2011, but due to waiting on one element to the Sincerely, Psychopath ident it didn't go up online until January this year.

2.)  What equipment do you use?

Hmm, well, it was a pretty low key affair - Darren shot the film using a DSLR, he had a few nice lights but sometimes it was very basic, just using the natural(ie artificial) light we had. Sound was recorded on my aging DAT equipment which explains why it is a bit ropey. And it was edited on my poor old grey dear, my old G4 tower.

In all honesty I don't have a great deal of kit myself as I'm lucky enough to work with collaborators who have their own decent gear!

3.)  A lot of low budget (and some high profile) filmmakers utilize the same group of actors in many projects.  Do you use this approach for finding actors, or do you look for new talent with each film?

Since returning to film making 6 years ago I've only used one actress in two consecutive films, so generally I do end up using different people each time. There are some actors I'd happily work with again, some who I would definitely not, but really it's taken on a project by project basis. I would love to have a core group of people to call on but I'm just not in that position. Reading "The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh" book I've always loved the idea of having a core film making team, your own little troupe who are always involved in all your films with a few regular actors popping up here and there...that would be really lovely.

4.)  Creak was a fun horror short.  What/Who are your influences?
I'm a big fan of John Carpenter, George Romero, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci and Mario Bava. I think all of them have permeated in somewhere along the line, though that might not be apparent when watching Creak.

5.)  Are you interested in making films in many genres or are you interested in staying within the horror realm?
Well, there's a line I heard George Romero say, where he said he just wanted to make movies and was never supposed to be tied to a specific genre and I feel the same way. Most of my previous films have been relationship based dramas. Horror was what brought me to film making though I hadn't really attempted a horror film as such before. I'm happy to make any sort of film - I'd love to do a musical, for instance.

6.)  If you had unlimited funds and access to any talent (in front of or behind the camera) in the world, what would your dream project be?
Wow, well, I'd love to bring many of 2000ad's comic strips to the big screen - a proper Judge Dredd film with Judge Death, a Strontium Dog film, an adaptation of Grant Morrison's amazing superhero strip Zenith. Probably quite a few comic book adaptations - Marshall Law would be fun, as would the amazing The Last American. 

7.)  What are your favorite horror movies?  What is the first horror movie you remember seeing?

Favourite horror movies are The Thing, Deep Red, Suspiria, Dawn and Day of the Dead, Zombi(e Flesh Eaters) Strangely I don't recall the first horror film I saw, despite spending a lot of time from the age of 7 watching a lot of films which weren't suitable for children! Then my teenage years were spent watching lots so they all started merging into one!

8.)  What started your love of cinema?  Your love of the horror genre?

As I said above, we got a video player when I was 6 or 7 so we hired a lot of stuff out which wasn't really suitable for me so I used to see a lot of films, mostly chosen by my older brother, so I got to see a lot of different things, some of which have stayed with me forever (Bronx Warriors for example, but also remember watching a very murky Blade Runner pirate video and never forgetting the finale.) We didn't visit the cinema very often at all when I was a child (I think I can recall the 6 or 7 films it was) though I always loved the ceremony of queuing, getting a ticket, adverts, trailers, film but with the video player film was never far away.

The love of horror seemed to coincide with turning a teenager and oddly looking through a book in a discount book store. It was a book on horror films, not sure why I picked it up, guess I was always fascinated by the monster in Frankenstein, even though I'd still never seen the film at that point. Can't even remember what was on the cover. I flicked through the book and there was a double page spread - on one side was the decomposing corpse of Alice Krige from Ghost Story (still never seen that film!) and I think something else grisly.on the other side. There was an old man who saw me looking at it and seemed repulsed, warning "that stuff will give you nightmares." Must have hit a deep hidden teenage rebellious streak as that repulsion seemed more of an endorsement to buy it. 

I think from looking at that book I may have gone out and bought Stephen King's "Carrie" and read that, then it was all systems go, reading a lot of Stephen King and James Herbert and seeing a lot of the films listed in that book.

Although I still love horror films and that was actually the very beginning of me working towards film making I've never really attempted to make a horror film as I think it's really hard, as it's all dependent on acting, SFX, music, sound design, camera and I just didn't feel I had the confidence or team around me before to make it come close to working. Hopefully I'm a bit closer now with Creak, but that's why most of my previous work has been more grounded in reality with relationship based dramas - they are "easier" (ahem) to get done and hopefully work.

9.)  Trying to tap into an audiences fears can be a tricky business.  Fear is subjective.  What makes my skin crawl may make you laugh and vice versa.  What scares you?  Do you try and blend that into your films?

The films I find scariest are the ones where there is a loss of identity or a horrid paranoia of nobody being what they seem. That's why I think The Thing still works and why the Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers films continue to work for me, that crushing feeling of finding yourself alone with not knowing who you can trust. There's probably something a bit deep rooted in that for me! I don't think I've taken any of that to my films yet, though maybe Creak does tap into a genuine fear of finding something in your safe place (home etc) that shouldn't be there.

Funnily enough Creak was based on a true event, in that my wife and I were both awakened in the middle of the night by a strange creaking sound. We did go to investigate the house together - I was initially blase, but I think her paranoia started to rub off on me, so when I was downstairs drawing the curtains open to make sure there was no one behind them I did start to have a real fear, not knowing what the hell to do if someone was actually stood there. Thankfully there wasn't anything there, though we could still never figure what the creak was. Guess the Pioneer went home empty handed that night!

10.)  Horror films are cyclical in nature and you can almost define each decade that passes with a trend in the genre....e.i......50's Monster Movies, 80's Slashers, 90's....sucked....and the first decade of the new millennium was huge in the torture genre.  Where do you see this decade going and is there a direction that you would like the genre to take?
Well, much that I do love a good horror film I don't always find myself watching them, which may be a blessing in disguise or means I'm out of step with current trends, so not too sure if I can comment with that much authority. I can't really see where torture porn can go as a genre as surely they just become more of an endurance. I've only seen the first Saw, which I thought was disappointing, but the most horrible thing about the film was the idea of the traps, rather than the results themselves, but again, where do you go with that apart from more devious, sadistic traps which seem more akin to a comic book villain? If anything, I wonder if the horror genre desperately needs some new mythologies and characters and this is something I've been saying since starting my horror venture - where are the next icons of horror? Freddie, Jason, Chucky...they're all over 25 years old now and there doesn't seem to have been anything which has come close to making a cultural impact (I guess apart from Saw..)

I wonder if there will be a more back to basics approach to horror eventually - with Carpenter deliberately attempting to keep CG effects etc to a minimum with The Ward maybe we will see a return to more physical effects, a return to more traditional story telling, as opposed to found footage and things like that.

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