Horrible Imaginings Film Festival Presents Sion Sono’s ‘Tag’: Schoolgirl Slaughter-ific

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Briefly summing up the film’s plot in a small paragraph is actually very difficult, so what we will say is that a schoolgirl on a field trip begins encountering strange phenomena that convince her more and more she’s not real.

Okay, even with the weird-ass explanation chapter at the end of the film, this is a difficult one for the average movie-goer to get. Some sequences are almost dream-like, while others have the happy slaughter of a Takashi Miite movie feel to them, and then of course there are some scenes that are almost impossible to fathom at all. The pig-faced demon groom throws me for a loop, what can I say. You’ve been duly warned, this is an incredibly weird, wild ride. But we will attempt to dive headlong into Sion Sono’s Tag, and discover what his apparent obsession with schoolgirl slaughter is, already.

To begin with, we have pretty little Mitsuko. She, like her raucous classmates, is on a bus headed for a hotel with, it’s a pretty safe bet, hot springs. Mitsuko is a little more reflective than her friends, and she gently blows away the pillowcase feathers of her play-fighting comrades off her poetry journal. Only a dropped pen saves her from an Evil Dead-style demon wind execution, one that takes out the entire bus, the other bus, the bikers and hikers, and just for an encore, the nearby telephone wires. And Mitsuko does what she apparently does best, which is to take off running.

Best friend Aki catches up with Mitsuko and just latches on for dear life, joyfully taking her friend’s shaken mind off what she thought she saw with a little class-skipping action. They bring along the girl Sur, short for ‘surreal’ because she apparently is. Sur pontificates about ripples and changing one’s fate by doing the unexpected. This, along with the almost-constant presence of Aki, seem to be key points in the movie, giving the chaos some semi-balance of plot to attempt to follow.

At this point we’ve gone off into some rather wacky territory, where the teachers are attempting to kill the entire schoolgirl student body, and, for some reason, Mitsuko in particular, with all kinds of forbidden hardware.. What can Aki do but distract them while she screams for Mitsuko to run!

But now, everything is very different. The scenery has completely changed, Mitsuko has a job and a different face and a new name, Keiko, and holy crap, we have to go, Keiko-chan’s about to get married!

Okay, sure, but … well, that’s not like any pre-wedding girlie prep I’ve ever attended. And what’s with the all-girl audience who turn into strippers? (I’m not actually kidding, and that’s the mild part of the wedding scene.) Do something unexpected and change your fate, Sur said. Certainly, no one expected Keiko-chan to go all Bride from Kill Bill on all of them with a broken bottle.

A blink, a flash, something, and we’re now running a race, with another different name and face. Izumi’s whole thing is running, apparently, her friends all reminisce about running everywhere as they grew up together, as they run beside her. Izumi-chan is being chased by the pig-faced demon from the previous face. Certain themes are beginning to bleed into each other and despite the occasional, incredibly zany visual, you remember that yes there is an underlying story being told here.

So, here we are at what may be the actual truth, with one last door left to open. Mitsuko-chan is just exhausted and confused and petrified, and it just gets worse when she hears she literally has to go through Aki-chan to get through that door.

I’m not going to spoil the ending, that would do director Sion Sono (who gave us Tokyo Tribe and Strange Circus, among many other Japanese film gems) a large injustice. I will say that it seemed like there was a small attempt at a Bladerunner feel towards the end, and that was an unexpected turn. Sono skillfully gives three important moments in a girl’s life – her carefree middle teenage years with her girlfriends, her fairy-tale wedding of course, and the first time she won any sort of large competition – and infuses them with manic energy while somehow getting his story across at the same time.

In the end, it was a totally weird movie, gigantic and frantic and lovely at parts, and while not for the casual stab at J-Horror, Tag manages to be an enjoyable romp of schoolgirl slaughter!

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2016 was justifiably proud of being the California premiere of Sion Sono’s ‘Tag’, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park!

Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2015: Horror for Humanity Showcase

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

We denizens of the entertainment world love to use our movies and tv shows to escape the sometimes horrific reality that is often right outside our own doors. The supernatural, with all its monsters and magic and mayhem, is unlikely to intrude upon our ‘real world’ anytime soon, sadly. But that isn’t to say that real-life horror, with all its inherent brutalities and atrocities, should not be explored ever. As a matter of fact, these kinds of holocaust-like everyday horrors could and should be used to raise awareness, of these horrors that happen, as we said, just outside your door, every single day of the so-called bright life. In this Horror for Humanity showcase of short films, we explore the far-too-commonplace monstrousness of things like slavery, cannibalism, and the aftermath of war.

Se Busca (The Missing)

Country: Mexico

Director: Franck Deron

Pandora’s Rating: 7 out of 10

https://youtu.be/woYbQaQgHMw

Human trafficking and slavery explored through a series of minimalist tableaus.

I had some issues with this first short, and not necessarily with the subject matter, either. I grant you the short is about trafficking of human cargo in Mexico, and therefore the entire short is in Spanish, but there are no subtitles. I understand it’s a series of tableaux that are supposed to be universally understood and for the most part they are, but I’d rather prefer to know what they’re saying, too. We have the young man trying to hold down two jobs and failing, so he needs money and fast; the trusting pretty girl that mistakenly thinks our busboy is her caring boyfriend; and the trafficker himself, a hard-partying gangster-type who experiences one single moment of potential regret, which changes absolutely nothing.

When the trusting girl finds herself not on a date with the busboy, but in a locked room with a bed and a non-functioning tv, she can clearly guess what’s going to happen, and there is no end to the utter despair that flows off with her tears. The busboy goes back to his multiple jobs, though his expression does indicate some remorse at what he’s done. And the trafficker, he seems almost amused by the irony of finding a Se Busca (Missing) poster with the girl on it. It’s a commentary that speaks to the worst in all of us, how the literal trading of your life to make mine better is far-too-common an occurrence, even in these supposedly enlightened modern times.

 

Ants Apartment

Country: Iran

Director: Tofigh Amani

Pandora’s Rating: 7 out of 10

A family living in the “ants apartment” after the Iraq war.

In my capacity as a lover of all things horror and a ravening reporter of all kinds of film festivals, I watch way too many short films. Which basically means I figured there was some kind of “gotcha” at the end of Ants Apartment that would be ironically funny. There is indeed a “gotcha” at the end, but it’s far from funny and it just gets worse when the title cards come up with location and historical explanation for the short itself. A male voice speaks with his female companion while a baby cries almost incessantly, while we overlook the countryside where ants, bugs, shepherds and their sheep, and other forms of life wander on their merry way. Why don’t we see the speakers until the very end? It’s a pretty safe guess that they’re dead, sure, but the how and the why of it is something much, much worse.  There are title cards at the very end explaining the setup behind this short, and believe me, the Al-Anfal Campaign was a genocidal massacre that was horrible and everything, but it’s a hell of a wallop to pack into a short that began sorta-kinda-a-little light-hearted. I have to admit though, it was a clever and almost achingly beautiful way to address such an atrocity.

 

Forgiving Sky

Country: Myanmar

Director: Myat Noe

Pandora’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Six people are trapped by hostile outsiders.

Now, this one was the absolute star of this block. The film itself does have a few technical issues (static, some lines, occasional blurring) but it’s the story that grabs the audience and squeezes until we’re ready to burst. Out in the jungles of Myanmar somewhere there are ruins of a temple and people who … I can’t actually say they live there: They exist there. Once, there were thirty people in the group, now it’s down to five. And, almost immediately, there is death. The survivors play high-card, low-card and the young man with the lowest card is mercifully dispatched and then dragged out of the temple ruins and left for others.

Why don’t the survivors join these outsiders waiting for what we have to assume is their next meal of meat? Because the girl narrating, her mother told her (before she was sacrificed) that she refused to throw away her humanity by acting like that. But these survivors are dwindling and there is no food for them, either. Our narrator’s sweet voice dutifully speaks of the realities of their situation, but never the how or the why, instead concentrating on the far-away beauty of the sky and its all-encompassing forgiveness. Even when it’s her turn, finally, to do the dispatching.

 

My Mother’s Songs

Country: Tanzania

Director: Erick Msumanje

Pandora’s rating: 7 out of 10

Inter-generational trauma is explored through the eyes of young women making sense of a violent world.

This short is downright excruciating, in the attempts to understand both the subject matter and the overall tone. I gather it was the horrible experiences of one family over a few generations, mostly the women, and the terrible things they endured in the Tanzania outback – there are mentions of father taking a machete to mother when she defends her “useless” girl-child; a female voice speaks of having her feet tied together and her being tossed into a well; and another female voice talks about singing to ease the pain of rats biting on her toes. These women, mostly mothers and their daughters, are used to being treated as nothing but chattel, and their songs handed down from generation to generation are often their only comfort, even as they lay dying with no hope of anything but oblivion. These songs, when they are performed in the short, are raw and primal and the audience can feel bleeding in every sound, even if it’s not a word.

Director Msumanje spoke with love of the inspiration he took from his own mother; she wrote poetry and sang the songs he forever remembered. Many Msumanje family members helped make the short into what the director explained is a long painful letter to his beloved mother and his Tanzanian roots.

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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2015: ‘Child’s Nightmares’ Short Film Block

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Fear is universal, and the base fears we all shared as children even more so: fear of the dark, of fire, of the eternal unknown, etc. Many of us lifelong horror fans recall the fear we endured as children as our entrance into an enduring romance with the darkness that lives in all things. Come along with Pandora into the nightmare world of short films that remind us that it might really be a good idea to check when your kid swears there’s something hiding under the bed!

The Whisperers

Country: USA

Director: Jason Miller

Pandora’s Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Left alone on Halloween night, two young brothers must hurry to discover the source of the strange sounds surrounding their home.

The Whisperers, which is just under 20 minutes long, tells a whole story that would be well-served by turning it into a feature-length film. There is a distinct beginning, middle, and even an ending of sorts that could actually be considered a beginning to a sequel, if Miller wanted to go there. The source of the whispering is certainly scary, and the makeup is well done, the other practical effects, too, but that isn’t the only good source of scares, here.

Brother Nathan, both as a child and as an adult, is terrifying in his own little determined way, too. What sibling doesn’t have issues with his other siblings? Of course, Nathan’s issues are right out of Twin Peaks, and at such a young age, too. The story gets a little disjointed at the very end, though that may have been a deliberate choice. How Nathan deals with the whisperers is frightening all on its own, and we, the audience, have to wonder just how much of it was in his head, and how much was really real?

This is the kind of smart storytelling that makes you want to go back and re-watch, once the gotcha at the end has been revealed – gotta go back and see how many easter egg clues were dropped along the length of the short, if any!

 

Howl of a Good Time

Country: USA

Director: Patrick Rea

Pandora’s Rating: 8 out of 10

Younglings sneak into an extra special screening of Foaming at the Mouth II, unaware that the audience isn’t what it appears to be, at all!

I really enjoyed the hell out of this short. Who amongst us never, ever snuck into a movie theater, especially for the midnight madness showing of some critic-smashed horror romp? It’s as though the words “no,” and “you can’t come in” are like catnip (in this case, dog-bones) to those of us who enjoy the weirder things in life. It just contributes to the wild atmosphere to have different kinds of barbequed meat to go along with the barking-mad showing of the movie, and when the meat inevitably runs out, hey here’s some sneaky, walking not-veal to be had! And what’s with those tattoos? They’re called visual clues folks. The girl determined to get in brought a note from her daddy giving her permission to watch, and the ushers really should’ve looked at that first. If I had the appropriate tattoo, I’d be trying to get in, too!

Featuring Leslie Easterbrook, Renae Geerlings, and Tamara Glynn as the conniving ushers, the short hides a few other horror-extra staples amongst the audience, as well. Plenty of makeup, wonderful acting, and a growling good storyline gives us a short that is truly, genuinely, a Howl of a Good Time!

 

The Smiling Man

Country: USA
Director: AJ Briones

Pandora’s Rating: 8 out of 10

A little girl home alone finds herself face-to-face with pure evil.

This short actually embodies the beautiful simplicity of fine makeup and awesome filmmaking to boost the atmosphere of a very plain, almost non-story. Director AJ Briones stated that he made the short open to interpretation deliberately, and that it amazed him just how many different ways his version of The Smiling Man has been viewed by different audiences.

The actress in the short performed on her sixth birthday and, Briones noted, she was never in direct contact with Dave the contortionist (who played the Smiling Man him/itself) in full makeup, as that would have been truly frightening! The little girl’s dead mother in the short is played by the tiny actress’ real-life mother, who happens to be a reporter from Sacramento, who came along for the ride.

And since I just had to know, it turns out the bag o’ goodies with balloons that the Smiling Man was trying to seduce the little girl with was filled with dolly parts – because what little girl doesn’t love dolls? Well, maybe not when they’re torn off and presented like that. The story of the Smiling Man has become a kind of underground horror movement in the last few years, and this short is an interestingly unique take on that. As an added bonus, check out a timelapse video of the makeup used in The Smiling Man below!

Congratulations to Director AJ Briones for winning the Best ‘Monster Show’ Short Film award for The Smiling Man at HIFF 2015!

 

Shhh

Country: Canada and Mexico

Director: Shervin Shoghian and Freddy Chavez Olmos

Pandora’s Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Guillermo uses his imagination to overcome a monstrous night-time bully. Inspired by the lucid nightmares of Guillermo del Toro during childhood.

This one was quite well done, and could easily be made into a feature-length film, very similar to del Toro’s Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Like a nursery-rhyme book made by the Grimm brothers, the narrator explains Guillermo’s predicament in sing-song.

The young boy Guillermo just wants to be left alone, mostly by the monster inhabiting the bathroom who demands locks of his hair before it will let him leave, but also by his older sister who torments him mercilessly, for being afraid of bathroom-monsters. Yes Guillermo’s hair looks terrible now, but better to cut his locks than let the monster take whole clumps.

His older sister further torments him by flinging her long, perfect blonde hair over her shoulder as she trashes his monster drawings and flounces out of his room. Long blonde hair on a vicious, unfeeling tormentor, you say? Guillermo now has an idea. The courage to face your demons and fears, real or imaginary, and the will to carry out such actions, should be applauded when they come at such a young age. Both directors of Shhh have spoken of their love for Guillermo del Toro’s arthouse horror movies, and this short is a kind of montage to him and his marvelous filmmaking.

 

La Ropavejera (The Huckster)

Country: Spain

Director: Nacho Ruipérez

Pandora’s Rating: 7.5 out of 10

https://youtu.be/f24mbkkLxVU

Nineteenth century children live under the abuses of a tyrannical woman they call “Mother,” who offers up sinister services to exclusive clients.

Frankly this one was exhausting, both in terms of length of the short and the weight of the story attempting to be told. Never let us forget for even a moment that these are children in some sort of lodging house, under the iron rule of the woman they’re forced to call Mother. I thought maybe it was a child workhouse when I saw alcohol shots being handed out so the children could sleep. Turns out the truth is far more sinister. One can already guess where things are heading when the children are forced into education that stresses cleanliness of the body, refined manners, and no back talk or resistance.

Then comes the party night with the guests all moneyed older men en masque, and our newly-named not-Flureta gets given to the highest bidder. Things continue on their merry way like that, and there is resistance of sorts and a kind-of ending, but the short itself is rather disjointed and rather acid-trip-like. We know there’s horror in what’s happening here, but the stuff besides the child prostitution is somehow inexplicable and just serves to add a layer to the original abuse.

It isn’t until the very end that we learn this collection of abuses to children was actually a supernatural testament to Spain’s deadliest serial killer in 1902. Done entirely in sepia tones with star Anna Torrent in the role of tormenting “Mother,” the feel is very Victorian gothic horror, with a fine Spanish twist. Though, I think perhaps it might be better to put the explanatory title cards about Spain’s deadliest serial killer at the beginning of the short, rather than at the end.

Congratulations to Director Ruipérez for winning Best Dramatic Short Film, and Best Cinematography in a Short Film at the HIFF 2015!

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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2015: ‘You’re Killing Me’

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Joe is coming out to all his friends – but not as a gay man, oh no! He’s coming out as a serial killer.

So yes, Joe has a bit of a problem. Well, he has several problems, not the least of which is his current boyfriend, a self-admitted slut who tries to jump Joe’s bones after less than a week of dating. Joe’s version of experiencing lust is something quite different from even the gay community around him. The rest of the friends at Game Night – a few effeminate closeted or not guy pals and a token female – all think there’s something a bit strange about Joe. But George is somehow so air-headed and so enamored of Joe, he doesn’t realize his friends and anyone else standing in the way of their togetherness, have actually begun disappearing! Fabulous George may have to realize that Joe is Dexter-ing his proper way to George’s heart – up and under the ribcage!

So much tongue-in-cheek gayness, it’s just marvelous darling. No one does drag, which is kind of a shame, because I would’ve loved to see Joe do himself as Mother Bates. Or maybe Mrs. Vorhees. At any rate, the mini-montages of Joe’s version of dark bloody lust are funny and never overtly gross, merely cheekily hinting at Joe’s interesting mind.

Joe is the only one out of the entire circle of friends who never actually lies to anyone, the truth always drops deadpan from him, and there is awkward silence and then cover-up laughter. Granted, Joe’s personal truth may be a lot darker than everyone else’s, but at least it’s honest. The moment where Joe discovers his own jealousy and determinedly acts upon it is bloody and murderous, but his elation at self-discovery is hauntingly beautiful at the same time.

While You’re Killing Me is a horror-comedy and does have several dead bodies drop, the underlying themes of coming out of the closet with whatever you’re hiding and always being true to who you are deep down, are universal and can be appreciated by anyone. The black humor prevalent throughout the film is a great diffusion of the intensity of the murders committed, because if you can’t laugh at yourself, why bother with anything? Joe’s therapist might even agree with me, encouraging Joe to (non-murderingly) explore his personhood as he does, or Doc would, if he weren’t dead by Joe’s loving and appreciative hand. As Oprah (or was it Maya Angelou?) said, When people show you who they are, believe them.  That’s terrific, but you just may want to, you know, try to avoid the killing parts after that.

Matthew McKelligon gives a fine performance in the pivotal role of Joe, with his sweet puppy-dog eyes and gentle serial killer ways. Jeffrey Self is the epitome of gorgeous gay, sweetie, as flippant boyfriend George. Director Jim Hansen is known for his work on Kill Bill Volumes I & II and Scary Movie 2, pouring a great deal of campy fun into his co-written with Jeffrey Self marvelous mad murdering romp, You’re Killing Me!

Our congratulations to You’re Killing Me for winning four awards at Horrible Imaginings 2015 – Best Score in a Feature Film, Best Actor in a Feature Film: Matthew McKelligon, Best Director of a Feature Film: Jim Hansen, and Audience Favorite Feature Film award!

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Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2015: Bringing Darkness Back to Sunny San Diego!

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror) 

So September isn’t generally a fun month weather-wise for anyone, much less here in eternally sunny San Diego, where temperatures (and tempers) can rise into the three figures on a regular basis. What better way to cool off than to delve into the depths of velvety-cool shadows, the length and breadth of joy-in-darkness that is horror films? Sadly, San Diego has been noted for its lack of film festivals dedicated to the genre, and that’s one of the many reasons we love Horrible Imaginings Film Festival so very very much!

This year will be the sixth Horrible Imaginings and creator Miguel Rodriguez is taking a big leap forward in venues – this year’s HIFF will be at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) in Balboa Park! HIFF 2015 will feature blocks of horror shorts arranged by sub-genre; showcases for youths and students, the LGBT community, and the new Horror for Humanity program; panels on The Rise of Mexican Horror and filmmaker Edgar G. Ulmer; and several full-length horror features!

Horrible Imaginings has always been a supporter of the San Diego film community, and this year’s offerings include the feature-length film Valley of the Sasquatch from director John Portanova, and several Local Spotlight Shorts scattered throughout the program.

The LGBT Showcase feature film is the horror-comedy, genre-bending smash-hit that coined the term ‘Mumblegore’ for their very own sub-genre of horror: You’re Killing Me from director Jim Hansen!

Festival creator and director Miguel Rodriguez explained the newly created Horror for Humanity program:

“Often I hear how people reject the horror genre because there is already ‘so much horror in the world,’ or, ‘If I want horror, I will just watch the news.’ Those statements fail to take into account the concept that filmmaking is an art that can exist to help us discuss and begin to deal with real-world horrors. The news is meant to inform, but it does little to react to real-world issues on a more personal level. That’s what film is for. Horrible Imaginings is proud to announce the start of a new endeavor we are calling ‘Horror for Humanity’: an initiative to showcase — and eventually help fund — different films that choose to look at some of the darkness of existence, and channel that darkness through creative expression. Thank you for joining me in expanding what we can do with genre cinema!”

Dinner food and glorious snacks will be provided by Bread and Cie and Killer Street Tacos, and there might even be some Killer Konfections from San Diego Horror mainstay and reporter for KPBS news, Beth Accomando! Come out to beat the heat and cuddle up to the wondrous darkness amongst people that are very much your tribe with Horrible Imaginings Film Festival 2015Tickets are still available, and range in price from $10 for individual screenings to $80 for full event access. There are also options for daily passes and track passes.

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Movie Review: ‘Spring: Love is a Monster’

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Studio: XYZ Films

Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Review Rating: 8

Spring’ brings us the story of a tragic romance with a twist you’ll never see coming! The film was screened for a packed house at this weekend’s  at the Digital Gym San Diego, an event put on by Miguel Rodriguez, who also organizes the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. The Q&A session with co-Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead rounded out the evening for horror fans.

We begin with Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci). Evan’s mother, the last living member of his family, just died of aggressive cancer, and Evan makes his escape by trekking off aimlessly to Europe. Backpacking with some pals he made along the way, Evan finds himself in a little seaside town off the coast of Italy, where he meets a compelling woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker). Evan takes a job offering room and board in exchange for work on a fruit farm, and proceeds to do his best to court Louise, who it turns out is harboring a very deep, very old secret.

It’s actually very hard to do a review on this film without giving away Louise’s secret, and since her secret is such an integral part of the romance, I’m not going to try. We see, over the first few days or so that Evan knows Louise, that she has strange tendencies: an aversion to direct sunlight, purple skin boils and blemishes, a penchant for injections of unknown substances, and a thirst for, you guessed it, blood. But if you’re thinking she’s a vampire of some sort, slow your roll, pal. Louise is an ancient monster, indeed, and the things she needs to do to stay alive and in relatively the same shape are horrific, true enough. But Louise professes herself a scientist of sorts, having studied her ‘condition’ long and hard, and tried to maintain some manner of detachment given what the nature of her existence costs her, which is effectively any kind of long-lasting love.

Even after Evan comes face to face with the reality of the monster he has come to love, sees an absolute it of a thing squirming halfway through an appalling transformation on Louise’s living room floor, he has a minor meltdown, but ultimately, Evan stays. Louise is soon to run out of her injection juice and the clock is ticking down to her final nightmarish transformation, yet Evan begs her to run away with him, to spend her last day as herself together with him: to have one last day of Spring.

The seduction and eventual corruption of a beautiful thing is a common story in many horror films, Dracula being a good example. Yet, here we have a self-admitted grotesque who tries so very hard to do the right thing and not feed on people, and the one who comes to love her so deeply doesn’t try to change her at all. Rather, Evan, in his beautiful posthumous despair, wants to hold onto the one thing he cares for deeply for as long as he can, and treasure her just as she is. Spring is far too short a season, but there is a poignant beauty in its fleeting joy. As Evan and Louise sit together for what could be the last time and the sun rises over the volcanic hill, you genuinely come to hope that the monster and her lover will find some way to be together forever.

Co-Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead were on hand after the film was over to answer questions from the enthusiastic audience.

Asked if they had more of a backstory for Louise, other than what was shown in the film, Moorhead explained, “We have a pretty long backstory for her in our heads, we don’t want to go too far into it because that’s like killing the goose that lays golden eggs. Before we started the movie, we kind of talked about where she had been and what had formed her world-view. She comes from a very scientific point of view, not because she’s a scientist, but she kind of fell into that profession by default in her two thousand years. Seeing the way God has changed, the way his presence has changed in our lifetimes, well she’s been alive for two thousand years and actually seen it happen. She’s kind of seen it all rise and fall, and at a certain point, you can imagine the cynicism that might rise in somebody, so that’s where she comes from. We also kind of liked the idea that she’s a kind of skeleton key in a way, the early version of werewolves and vampires and that sort of thing. So maybe, a long long time ago, somebody caught sight of her in one of her terrible weaker moments, weaker as in, going through what her body goes through, and that’s where perhaps the myth of the vampire or werewolf or whatever came from. Maybe she’s just The One, and that’s it.”

Another fan asked about how that related to Louise’s heterochromia, and Benson answered, “In very, very basic genetics, her heterochromia … the way it’s handed down, and the way her genetics work combined with other men, it’s something that, would follow her aimlessly, she would never breed that out of herself.”

What about the magic ritual Louise attempted to perform about halfway through the film? What was the point of a self-professed “scientific monster” doing magic? Moorhead responded, “We wanted to kind of show the scope of what she may or may not believe in. We frankly don’t believe she believes in magic, but it was a moment of desperation and she tried it anyway … The general idea being, she’s trying something very fanciful, and as soon as it doesn’t work, we lose the moment, we lose everything, and suddenly it’s back to being very banal and she’s eating the rabbit. It was her little attempt at optimism, but more desperation than anything.”

Both Benson and Moorhead seemed pleased that the audience noticed both practical effects and CGI, both done pretty well, in the film. Benson said, “We tried to do everything practically [effects-wise], but most fans and people into genre films, have this really romantic idea of practical effects, and it can be used as a marketing hook for a movie. Like the new Evil Dead, they were all about ‘oh, it’s all practical effects, that’s why you should see it.’ And we tried to do everything we can with practical effects, everything we could possibly do, [and then we had to pause for the haunted raising and lowering of chairs].”

He continued, “But if you came out with like your kid-brain about making movies, about like how you achieve things, that’s basically practical effects. That scene of their first date, where Louise is sitting there and notices a boil on her leg going off and she’s like, ‘Okay, I’ve gotta go.’ That scene, there’s a practical effects guy sitting behind the couch blowing into a tube attached to [Nadia’s] leg, and this is the best practical effects company in the world, blowing into a tube. And when she stands up, we’re hiding the fact that the tube just pulled out of her leg, and she’s walking off now. And that’s about the extent of it – if you’re like a little kid, you can learn it. They’re incredibly talented people and it’s an amazing art form, but it can really only take you so far, so we just take it as far as we possibly can on set, and then we augment everything with visual effects. There’s very few shots that are CGI, we don’t even work that budget range where you really can use CGI and have it look good. A lot of times what it is, is once we have our locked cut, we look at the locked cut and go, ‘Okay how can we make this slightly better?’ And we go back to our practical effects company and spend a day reshooting practical elements with a green screen, that Aaron will go back and composite together for Louise’s body. Aaron has this mantra, ‘People don’t hate visual effects [CGI], people hate bad visual effects.’ You can’t make a movie in 2015 with a bunch of neat creature effects and not have a blend of practical and visual effects.”

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