All filmmaking is about manipulation, but no other genre has more of a visceral and extreme effect than the horror genre. Horror films play with the manipulation of sound and image to create fear and dread in an audience, forcing us to confront death and pain. Using the cinematic form to instill fear in an audience requires the filmmaker, and, in a sense, the film itself to disappear. The audience cannot be made aware of the illusion, and as much as one can, should lose themselves in the experience. Most of the terror one feels during a horror film is fear for the characters within and what will happen to them. With my feature film INTERIOR, I hope to explore a different kind of fear: the fear of film itself. It is the fear of the form, the fear of what is in the frame and outside of it, of the subject and who is filming it, of dead moments séanced back into the present. In any work of cinematic horror, there is only one true villain, and it is not the ghost or the slasher or the evil force in the woods; it is the filmmaker.
INTERIOR is about a filmmaker, Sam, who is hired to spend the night alone in a haunted house to record evidence of the supernatural. He is the type of person who would rather look at the world through the lens of a camera than actually participate in it. Isolated with something that may or may not be stalking him, the cameras, his lifeline to the world, start capturing images that cannot be explained rationally. This thoroughly modern man is suddenly confronted with his own mortality in the form of a spirit that lives beyond comprehension through the very tools that shelter him from the world not immediately present. If he cannot trust the camera, what can he trust?
How do I bring this fear of the medium itself to a feature film? INTERIOR will be shot from three different points of view: the main character's (through his personal camera), his surveillance cameras, and a third omniscient eye, which the film establishes may or may not be the "ghost". As the film progresses, these three viewpoints blur and intermingle, so the audience will never be quite sure which they are seeing. This uncertainty breaks down the safety inherent in all narrative horror, where every cut is a release of tension.
Have you ever Googled the words "Ghost Video" alone at your computer and watched these "real" events? There is a certain kind of unnatural unease that occurs, a sense of the unknown being confirmed, and a specific kind of isolation mixed with ultra- awareness of your surroundings that no narrative genre film has yet matched. Perhaps it is the safety of the communal experience of cinema, the participatory activity of sitting in a crowded theater as everyone watches the same screen and has the same audible reactions. INTERIOR is about the absence of these elements.
Unlike a “found footage” film, where the viewer is asked to look at events that have already happened in an academic way after the fact, we are creating a world with immediacy that is unfolding in front of the viewer, and invading their viewing space with the binaural soundtrack. This is not a "found footage" film, but a classic narrative with a protagonist who acts as the audience’s avatar. When he finds footage in the film, the audience finds it as well, and participates in the horror of the discovery.
Apart from the technical and aesthetic motivations for making this film, INTERIOR is also a very personal project for me, even though on its surface it is just a genre film. It is about a film school graduate who has done nothing with his life post- college. Doomed to film weddings and make corporate videos for the rest of his life to pay off student debt, he is me without this project; a gun-for-hire, with no time or resources to make anything for himself. But more than that, he is someone who lives very much in the present, with no sense of history or anticipation. There is nothing in the world outside of his camera. He is truly isolated, even before he enters the house. That is the true horror.
- Zachary Beckler,
Writer/Director/Editor of INTERIOR
"...it is the filmmaker."