ARTICLES

FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS | BOOTH'S BLOG

Interview with Ruth Platt, director of The Lesson
By James Whittington, Wednesday 6th December 2017

On the eve of Horror Channel's network premiere screening of The Lesson, director Ruth Platt talks about the decision to quit RADA, why her film isn't 'torture porn' and what the future holds.

The Lesson received its World Premiere at FrightFest. How did you react when it was chosen? And what was the experience like?

RP: I was really excited when I found out we'd been picked - we got a call from the team, and they were passionate about the film, and they are such a knowledgable and experienced small team, Greg, Paul, Alan and Ian, and it meant so much. Especially when the making of it had been such an arduous and difficult process! I had no idea how people would react to the film - it was such a tiny budget, and put together on sheer determination rather than any actual means. But the whole FrightFest festival was amazing - the fans were so supportive and friendly, and the reception to the film was so generous, it was a really brilliant experience.

How did you develop the idea for the film? Did your own experiences at school influence the story?

RP: So my love of the horror genre stems from the satirical, metaphorical nature of the genre - how you can make a comment or observation about society, or about human nature, through the lens of horror - it is quite an expressionistic and stylised way of looking at the world, but quite a cathartic one, exorcising your deepest concerns, fears, and anger, I think! I have done a bit of teaching, though only peripatetic. I wasn't trying to exorcise my real desires to torture students, as some people might think! It was more an observation on the educational system and its failures, and also a psychological study of class dynamics, stemming also from my experiences at school. The teacher role was inspired by two things - there was a teacher I had at school, and the class just knew, subconsciously and collectively, that we could push him further than we could push the average teacher. There was an innate vulnerability to him, a fear of us, if you like, that allowed the class to behave in a much more difficult way. My film was a bit of a 'what if' scenario - what if that teacher we locked in the cupboard snapped? There was an article I read a few years back about a teacher who did just that, without any history of violence or bad conduct - and who harmed a teenage boy at school badly. That was my second inspiration. The two ideas together created Mr Gale.

The violence in the film is mostly inflicted by a school teacher on two 16 year-old schoolboys. Do you think this makes it even more controversial and difficult to watch?

RP: I think, and I did worry beforehand, that people would take it literally, it is meant to be a deliberate satire on the torture porn genre. It has moral ambiguity and complexity, certainly, I mean hopefully, and those that like the film seem to get this, your sympathies keep changing to and fro, from the teacher to the kids. Mr Gale gets his comeuppance! I think The Lesson is pretty measured violence-wise - you look at 15 films like The Babysitter and Deadpool and my god, the violence, and it is so slick, so easy. That makes me uncomfortable. The violence in The Lesson is hopefully earned, and deliberately difficult to watch. There is no easy, shiny violence.

What lessons do you want people to take from the film?

RP: Ha! Well, I guess I want people to think about the education system, where its failings lie, how a school is a microcosm of society, and without an all encompassing and deep rooted culture of mutual respect, responsibility and kindness, it can go badly wrong. But I didn't want to do that in a straightforward way, but rather through the horror lens. Some people seem to find it really cathartic to see these difficult kids tortured which is a bit disconcerting! I guess films like Fritz Lang's M are pertinent and influential - that moral ambiguity certainly - the scene where all the criminals in the area capture this mentally ill, but hideous child murderer, and they are relishing the power they have in their kangaroo court - the hypocrisy and the savagery of all of them. Reminds me of Social Media!

The film has been described many ways, ranging from "Kitchen-sink torture porn" to "bravura art-house horror". How would you describe it?

RP: Satirical anti-torture porn? Though I love the kitchen-sink bit and the art house bit obviously!

The casting is particularly brave, allowing young unknowns to flourish and excel. How difficult was the audition process?

RP: Well - I had the tiniest budget so there was no casting director involved. All the kids were local, untrained kids. They were brilliant actually. They started with loads of stagey acting, and then I had to strip it down - they got it so quickly though and loved the process. I knew Evan already (who plays Fin) as I had already cast him in a music video - he was so hardworking and conscientious. I was lucky enough to go into a local college and have an audition with the young people studying Drama there. Rory [who plays Joel] shone immediately - he took my direction, and his truth of thought and quickness of mind was evident straight away in improvisations. I was lucky to find him - about a week before shooting! Mischa I cast very last minute too, I auditioned her on Skype after we had started shooting! She was a drama student at the Prague conservatoire. She was very natural and very lovely - and just astonishingly beautiful, I thought. Her separateness and her measured silence to me was indicative of what it is to be a woman in a man's society. She of course, is Fin's knight in shining armour, at the end of the day, but she is vulnerable, she has to compromise to survive. I thought Mischa had a beautiful stillness that was very watchable

You've been a successful actor yourself, having won a scholarship to train at RADA. But is it true you left in your second year to start up a theatre company? And will we see you tread the boards again?

RP: Well I wasn't that successful! I adored acting, but I was a very insecure person as an actor. I remember being called to an audition, by my agent, for a music video, and asked by 3 men to lap dance on a chair. I wished I had just told them to f*** off. But I didn't - I needed to pay the rent, and didn't want to annoy my agent. So I did it. That happened a lot. As an actress you have to have an innate confidence that I really didn't have. I absolutely adored RADA, and as soon as I left, I realised what an idiot I had been to leave in my second year. I fell into a deep depression - I was utterly broke, I had given up a scholarship, my mother was very ill, it all went wrong. I rang them and begged them to take me back but they had given my scholarship to someone else, and I couldn't afford to go back. But it was during my experiences forming a theatre company that I started to realise that I loved writing and later, when I found my confidence, directing. What I adore about directing is being able to guide an actor through each thought process, each moment of subtext, each emotional beat and each character trait, and I can do that because of my actor training. That is a really rewarding experience, and it is why I also enjoy working with new, untrained actors. Being an actor I think is terrifying - you are so vulnerable, and especially as an actress, I mean I know it is getting better but sexism and harassment is rife, absolutely endemic, though it has now suddenly exploded into the public consciousness and will probably now improve. But you really need to have balls of steel.

Who are your strongest influences in the horror genre and what's been your favourite horror film this year?

RP: Haneke's Funny Games (the original German language one) is my favourite horror film of all time. I guess that is what inspired my anti-torture porn premise. The violence in that film could not be more uncomfortable and less gratuitous to watch - Haneke is a genius. A close second, though not usually classified as a genre film, is Yorgos Lanthimos' Dogtooth'. One of the most brilliant, piercing satires I have ever seen. I adore Nosferatu, and Fritz Lang's M. This year, I loved Raw, which I think it is one of the greatest female horror films of all time - the central metaphor of an impossibly high-achieving girl, with the absolute rigid self discipline, that starts to discover her emerging sexuality and rage - so bloody, sharply funny. And the cinematography - I'm in awe of it!

Finally, what can you tell us about your next project?

RP: I have been in development with the BFI for a year now, so hoping to shoot something next year! It is a horror, but one that has a very detailed, socio-realistic world. And the whole thing is through the eyes of a child. It is also a largely female cast. Looking forward to making it so much, so wish me luck!

The Lesson is broadcast on Saturday 9 December at 10.45pm on Horror Channel.


MORE INTERVIEWS
Interview with John Shackleton director of Panic Button
Posted on Wednesday 15th November 2017

As social media horror feature Panic Button gets a remastered DVD and Download release, writer and producer John Shackleton reflects on the film's inspirational journey.

To start at the beginning, what was the genesis or the seed of the idea for Panic Button?

JS: The model of how to make a film actually came before the concept. I'd made a short film with a group of trainees using a bunch of self-imposed restrictions for practicalities sake, to make sure we completed and delivered within the three-week timeframe of the training scheme, who were my employers. The rules were quite simple - no more than five minutes' walk from the office (we couldn't afford a van), no dialogue (we did...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Damien Leone director of Terrifier
Posted on Saturday 28th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Terrifier at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event today, director Damien Leone talks about the 'Art' of extreme clowning, his debt to Tom Savini and a terrifying Halloween experience...

Art, The Clown initially appeared in your 2008 short The 9th Circle, then the 2011 award-winning short Terrifier and in your first feature All Hallow's Eve. What made you decide to give him a fourth outing?

DL: Up until this point I never felt like I fully showcased Art's potential. I believe between the short films and All Hallows' Eve, there only exists about 20 minutes of Art the Clown screen time. For a character who's done so little, he seems to really resonate with horr...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Mathieu Turi director of Hostile
Posted on Wednesday 25th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his debut feature Hostile at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Mathieu Turi shares his admiration for Tarantino, describes the challenges of filming in three continents and reveals his 'magic hour'.

You were born in Cannes so you grew up with film all around? When did you know for sure you wanted to direct?

MT: I think it's always been there. As a child, I used to steal my dad's VHS camera to make mini-movies. They were basically all about my Jurassic Park toys eating my dog or invading the garden. Later, I did more elaborate short films with friends, instead of studying. Then, I remember watching Braveheart and the making of the ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Marko Makilaakso director of It Came From The Desert
Posted on Tuesday 17th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film It Came From The Desert at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Marko Makilaakso shares his admiration for Roger Corman, love of B-Movies, spoofing and overcoming homeland obstacles.

It Came From The Desert is inspired by Cinemaware's cult 1980s video game, which in turn was motivated by the giant creature feature craze infesting 1950s Hollywood. What was the main inspiration for you?

MM: There's so many movies and makers which inspired ICFTD, but the main inspiration was exactly that; creature feature infested 1950s Hollywood films, and the legendary Cinemaware Desert games and creature features and action comedies I grew up with in the 19...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Can Evrenol director of Housewife
Posted on Thursday 12th October 2017

Ahead of the UK premiere of his latest film Housewife at the Horror Channel Frightfest Halloween event, director Can Evrenol tells us why film is a 'pervert's art' shares his feelings for Fulci and reveals his contribution to Horror anthology, The Field Guide To Evil.

Was it important to make your follow-up film to Baskin in the English language?

CE: I wanted to make the film available for a wider audience and to test myself with a different language movie. I thought it was a fun thing to do.

How do you describe Housewife? What would be your perfect pitch line?

CE: Man, I had this crazy f****d-up dream last night! Do you want to see it?

Like Baskin, Housewife shares man...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Dominic Bridges, director of Freehold
Posted on Wednesday 4th October 2017

One of the stand out movies from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 was the psychological chiller, Freehold. Dark and at times truly unnerving, the film caused quite a stir and will be released onto DVD on October 9th. Here the film's director Dominic Bridges talking about this superb debut.

HC: Where did the idea for Freehold come from?

DB: Based on personal experience my wife and I suffered a miscarriage whilst trying to buy a house in London whilst the Estate Agents had us bidding against ourselves... I reacted badly which was embarrassing to my wife and myself it all felt like too much fighting for a roof over our heads just tainted the whole of London for us and we moved also the realisation...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Damien Power, director of Killing Ground
Posted on Monday 25th September 2017

One of the best from Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 was a superior thriller, Killing Ground. This tension packed movie looked incredible on the big screen so we decided to chat to its director, Damien Power.

HC: Did Killing Ground take a long time to write and did it change as you progressed?

DP: It took eleven years from the germ of the idea to stepping onto location to start shooting. Luckily I wasn't working on it full time! Once we had a draft we were happy with, it took five years to put the financing jigsaw together. It's a long journey! The biggest change was that for a number of years it didn't really have a third act. It ended very abruptly at the moment of maximum jeopardy. Fort...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Michael Boucherie writer and director of Where the Skin Lies
Posted on Monday 28th August 2017

More new talent seemed to be around at Horror Channel FrightFest this year and one of the stand out movies for me was Where The Skin Lies from Michael Boucherie. Here he chats about this emotional movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age you wanted to be in the film-making business?

MB: Going to the movies with my family is a favourite childhood memory. There was no cinema in our home town, so it always involved a bit of a car trip. Afterwards we'd recount and quote our favourite scenes, for some movies up to this day. My mother also filmed and edited our home movies on Super 8, and she involved me in that. So, on some level I grew up with it. It didn't dawn on me that this was a v...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with legendary actress Barbara Crampton
Posted on Tuesday 15th August 2017

Ahead of her eagerly awaited presence at Horror Channel FrightFest 2017, genre icon, actress and producer Barbara Crampton talks exclusively about her latest film Replace, battling chronic fatigue syndrome and her passion for supporting new talent.

Q: Replace raises questions about beauty, body image and growing older, issues that many feel plague the Hollywood movie industry. What is your view on this subject?

BC: The best movies reflect our inner world, our hopes, our good intentions, trials and our demons. Growing old and the fear of death is endemic to all, not just the movie industry. Just when you begin to figure it out your back aches, your skin starts to wrinkle and you gain weight...

SHARE: READ MORE
Exclusive interview with Jen and Sylvia Soska, directors of See No Evil 2
Posted on Tuesday 4th April 2017


Jen and Sylvia Soska are two of the most exciting creatives around at the moment. Their work is visceral, dynamic, exciting and above all bloody entertaining. We've chatted to these multi-talented Canadians about their work to date in the build up to the UK TV premiere of See No Evil 2 this Friday on Horror.

HC: It's been while since we last chatted and apart from See No Evil 2 what have you both been up to?

SS: It has been a while, but it's really cool that we get to chat again. We hosted a reality horror gameshow from Matador, GSN, and Blumhouse called Hellevator that was like Saw: The Gameshow!. We had a blast making it. I really can't even believe that was a job a person could have. We're st...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with 'Life' star Rebecca Ferguson
Posted on Wednesday 22nd March 2017

Previously starring opposite Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Emily Blunt in Girl on the Train, Ferguson steps out as the lead, standing firmly in front of her co-stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Ryan Reynolds in the Horror/Sci-Fi spectacle Life, which opens in cinemas across the UK this Friday.

Starring as Dr. Miranda North, Ferguson plays the last astronaut on-board an International Space Station which has recently caught a space probe containing the first sign of extra-terrestrial life. Studying the life form quickly turns from fascinating to a complete catastrophe, as the organism rapidly grows strength and intelligence - with the desperation to prey upon those within its reach.

We spoke with Fergus...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with A Cure For Wellness Director Gore Verbinski
Posted on Friday 24th February 2017


The visionary director behind the English-language remake of The Ring as well as the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films is back this week - with the sinister and compelling A Cure for Wellness.

The film, which is a healthy mix of psychological thriller and body horror stars Dane DeHaan (Chronicle, The Place Beyond the Pines and Life After Beth) and Mia Goth (Nymphomaniac) and opens in cinemas across the UK today.

We sat down with Verbinski to discuss the making of Cure, in addition to his thoughts on horror remakes, and the long-awaited BioShock film.

A Cure for Wellness is in cinemas now

SHARE: READ MORE
PICK OF THE WEEK
The Divide
THE DIVIDE
Wednesday 27th December
10.45 PM
The Children
THE CHILDREN
Friday 22nd December
9.00 PM
Black Christmas
BLACK CHRISTMAS
Saturday 23rd December
9.00 PM