Last weekend Sinful Celluloid interviewed Brian O’Malley to talk about his new Gothic Horror film, The Lodgers. It was an enjoyable interview about the direction of The Lodgers along with his feelings on horror today. Before we got down to the questions, he noted how novel it was to be interviewed by a woman for a horror film. I would like to say that while I often forget how few of us there are, the women of the horror industry are SO important to it’s flourishing in the modern day, and it felt very nice to be acknowledged for my work within it by O’Malley. To horror fans and writers out there- thanks for the support!
Is horror a preferred genre for you?
I enjoy horror, like Halloween for example. I think we’re in a renaissance in horror movies I actually for a long time I wished horror would go back to that type of a film like John Carpenter’s Halloween and uh, I think we have abandoned that kind of gore-porn stuff which I really disliked, so it’s really very exciting. But my interests are very broad, they go beyond horror. The themes that rest within horror or the subgenres of horror are broader, too and I really like them.
How did it feel directing a Gothic Horror film?
Well ever since I saw The Innocence quite a long time ago, the 1966 film, I absolutely loved that genre. I love the Gothic period film. I really couldn’t believe it when this script landed on my desk and it was just that I was relay excited and it really feels a real honor to make this film. How often do you get to make the particular genre of movie that’s good? Yeah there’s just to something that’s in the period ghost stories so much stronger than contemporary, which isn’t to say that there aren’t some amazing contemporary ghost stories, but there’s just something about being set in the past- like Victorian or post Victorian- there’s something creepy about them for whatever reason. It feels like ghosts belong in that era, you can kind of really buy into the ghost story and also the fact that there is a lot of superstition, they used to use superstition to protect themselves, they would make up stories to scare the children away.
Is The Lodgers an example of an old story or tradition attempting to scare children from doing something immoral?
I really don’t actually, I think it’s a matter of implied incest but uh the huge part of the story is probably the children. But that’s actually what I love about the story, not just that it’s a ghost story but the themes. The reason for the haunting feels very, very modern. So, I don’t think this is one of those, maybe entirely different, however I think it’s kind of a lot of things going on but it does feel like a more modern ghost story so I’m not sure. It definitely isn’t something I could share with my children.
How did it feel working with such a wide range of young, talented actors?
Oh yeah, well Bill Millner I had seen in a brilliant film ten years ago. He’s a great child actor, and really special, I actually watched that film with my children so really, he’s always been on my mind. So then casting this I wondered for the role if he would do it, and he was really a first pick so it’s kind of amazing to me. It’s another thing that doesn’t happen very often, the first person that you think of for a part is there. He also turned out to be one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met and working with him was just really lovely. Really terrific. Charlotte (Vega) was one of the big ones too actually. I hadn’t heard of her. Apparently her parents are English but she grew up in Spain so she’s technically Spanish, and she happens to speak English with a perfect English accent. She came into the casting and she was amazing straight away- everything we gave her she did perfectly and we knew pretty quickly she was the person we wanted. And fortunately when Bill and Charlotte met each other they became really great friends really really quickly, so on top of that there was a really terrific atmosphere and the whole crew had our back and it was really positive all the way. Then with Game of Thrones actor Eugen Simon, he’s a warrior on it, everything we‘d throw at him he’d have absolutely no problem with it. So he was just a very positive personality. And then with David Bradley, whom I’m actually a huge fan of, he was on Doctor Who, we only had him a few days. We asked if we could have him and he could only give us a few days but it was actually really really cool,. We were surrounded by good decent people who only wanted to do the best for the film so it was a good experience.
Was it difficult keeping up the atmosphere of 1920s Ireland?
Well the house looks exactly like what you’ve seen. The property actually looks like there was quite a bit of a mess, with a gorge a lot of area we had to clean out. We had to bring in all the props like the bed and things you see but you are literally, in the scene, you have traveled back in time walking through that house. Really, those kinds of houses don’t exist in Ireland anymore. There are small villages in Ireland that look straight out of the past, but the village that we used was a larger village, and we were able to shine out all the modern houses. Seeing the village in a wider shot you would have been able to see the more modern touches but that was a real challenge and it was disappointing to find that next to the park in where we were shooting an exterior village we had to go to great lengths with graphics- but still, it came out great. I’m very happy with it.
The Lodgers will premiere world wide Sept. 8th at TIFF.