LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS Brand new exclusive interview with Matthew Parkhill, director of The Caller
By James Whittington, Sunday 16th October 2011
The Caller, the latest movie from director Matthew Parkhill is out on Blu-ray and DVD from 24th October. It's a tense, psychological shocker so we decided to have a chat with Matthew about this movie, his thoughts on censorship and his plans for the future.
HC: It's been a while since your first feature, was this a deliberate choice of yours?
MP: Not really. I was attached to a couple of feature films which fell apart, which happens more than you'd think. In the meantime I worked on a couple of films for TV and some commercials. I also write for other directors, so that's been keeping me busy. Hopefully it won’t be that long again before my next feature.
HC: Are you a fan of the horror genre?
MP: I am. I'm more a fan of the old school stuff, like The Exorcist and Rosemary's Baby, stuff where the fear is more in the atmosphere, that's more about creating tension through what you don't see rather than what you do. I'm not a torture porn kind of guy.
HC: How did you become involved with The Caller and what were your initial thoughts on the script?
MP: I was sent it by a couple of producers I'd worked with before. I loved the script. It was very smart and kept me guessing. I'd been reading a lot of genre scripts at the time and this one really stood out. I loved that it made you think, and that it had a strong female lead. I also was interested in the psychological element of the story.
HC: You’ve got some excellent talent starring in the movie but was it a difficult movie to cast?
MP: Yes and no. Stephen Moyer was actually pretty straight forward in terms of casting. I heard he liked the script and was interested in playing the role of the ex-husband. I thought it would be more interesting to see him in the role of the boyfriend as I liked the idea of the audience not knowing where the threat was coming from. I thought the menace Moyer carries from his character in True Blood would play into that sense of threat. When we spoke it turned out he was more interested in the role of the boyfriend, so we were on the same page from the start. And Rachelle Lefevre actually stepped into the role at the last minute to replace the actress we originally had. In fact she read the script in Montreal the day before, got on a flight that night, arrived in Puerto Rico the next day and went straight into filming. She didn't even have any luggage with her and had to buy clothes from the hotel gift shop. I think she's amazing in the movie and whenever I watch it, I always think of the crazy circumstances in which she arrived.
HP: The film has dark tones, did this make the shoot intense?
MP: In some ways, yes. It is a dark movie. I think the hardest past for Rachelle was the ending when Lorna Raver turns up. Rachelle wanted to do all the stunts herself, so we ending up literally throwing her all over the apartment. By the end she was cut and bruised all over. So that was tough on her. As was the scene in the pantry where she finds the corpses. Those things we so realistic, so that was pretty scary. But what made the shoot more intense was that we had a very limited schedule (23 days) which meant long hours.
HC: The Caller seems to have plenty of SFX shots, did these take a long time to put together and co-ordinate?
MP: Actually, there aren't that many. I was aware that often in low-budget horror the FX can look pretty cheap. So I wanted to have only a few, which meant we could afford to do them well. The main FX shot is the spreading of the scar on Rachelle's skin, which involved making a real scar and then making it looking like it was creeping across her body in post. That took a long time.
HC: Where do you stand on censorship?
MP: I think there's a place for it. I think, as a film-maker, you have to be responsible for what you put out there. I think it all has to come from the story, and be justified by the story. It's actually very easy to shock. I could film someone strangling a kitten and you'd be shocked. What's harder to do is create atmosphere and tension and create a good story.
HC: If you're able to talk about them, it would be great to hear about what projects you'll be working on next?
MP: Right now I'm writing a conspiracy thriller which is set at London's Olympic Games and is all about the dark, dark world of corruption. And directing-wise my next project will probably be a modern re-telling of Oliver Twist. But instead of being pick-pockets, Fagin's gang are all brilliant at Parkour and free-running, kind of like little Spidermen without webs. So Fagin uses them to pull of a series of art heists. It's like a young Ocean's Eleven. And we're going to shoot it in 3D. Should be fun.
HC: Matthew Parkhill, thank you very much.
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