Zoe Kavanagh, Writer/Director of ‘Inexorable’

 

Filmmaker Zoe Kavanagh takes us into the shadows of her short film Inexorable.

How would you describe the film?
Inexorable is a psychological horror film that focuses on the fears we have at night. ‘Is that baby-cries out in the back garden or is that a cat? It could be a baby in peril, may need to check it out!’

It’s me experimenting with atmosphere and tension whilst being heavily inspired by classic horror films.

 

How did it come about?

It’s basically a sequence from a feature script that I have written called ‘Inexorable’, which means unrelentless, unstoppable and that’s basically what the feature is in the way that from start to finish every single scene is filled with something scary in different shapes and escalates until it ends.

I directed this short film to showcase that I can do horror, I can do atmosphere as I hadn’t made that type of horror film before but I’m a huge fan of.

 

Any specific influences?
A lot of influences from things that really got me or unnerved me. Horror films such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser and Poltergeist to video-games such as the ‘Silent Hill’ series. There’s an atmosphere and character moralistic drama I like in these franchises that not only creep me out but engage me with their protagonists and their antagonists.

 

Any on-set stories you can share?

In the short film, the villain wears a Plague Doctor mask and after we wrapped filming in the alleyway where he preys in the corner, none of us wanted to stand anywhere in that spot alone as we were getting paranoid that someone was there! It was all fine in the end and was a fairly smooth shoot!

 

What particular skills do you need to make a short horror film?

You need to know what scares you and find a way to conjure that idea into a story. Directing a short film isnt always about giving people a full three-act structure but more so in a horror short it’s actually about giving the audience a scary sequence and dropping them into a scenario that they can connect to. It’s really about understanding the pace of horror. A lot of modern horror films don’t slow down when they need to, they have loud noises and fast cutting but that should be used for action not horror. Once you have them engaged, you can manipulate their emotions with your atmosphere, your shocks and terrify them.

 

How do you feel about screening at Horrorthon?
It’s great! Second year in a row a film by me has screened. Last year Demon Hunter played to a packed audience and now Horrorthon get the exclusive Irish premiere as I haven’t pushed this short yet. It also plays in Germany this week at the Obscura Film Fest before I start submitting it to lots of festivals. Excited about its prospects on the horror festival circuit.

 

Inexorable screens as part of the IFI Horrorthon: Short Film Showcase on Sunday,  29th October 2017  at 15.10.

 

 

 

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Irish Film Review: Torment

Stephen Porzio unearths Jason Figgis’ latest slice of horror, Torment, in which a man is buried alive in punishment for a heinous crime while a couple struggle to come to terms with a dreadful loss.

Jason Figgis has become a staple of the Irish independent film festival circuit. I admire his prolific nature (he makes about two or three movies as year, as well as contributing to various anthology films) and his passion for cinema. However, sometimes in the past I’ve found that his creativity has occasionally been stymied by the low-budget parameters in which he works. His output, like Urban Traffik and Don’t You Recognise Me?, is often ingeniously plotted and his themes regarding familial dysfunction, revenge and violence are consistently interesting. Yet sometimes a dodgy special effect or an amateurish performance from a supporting actor can take the viewer out of the fictional world Figgis otherwise creates very well.

In this respect Torment – his latest playing at IFI’s Horrorthon on October 29th – is a step-up from his previous work. The film focuses on two interlocking stories. Bill Fellows (Lady Macbeth) plays a man who is buried alive and taunted by a sinister disembodied voice over an intercom. Meanwhile, a married couple (played by Cora Fenton and Bryan Murray) attempt to cope with grief and loss. Over the course of the film, we come to realise how these three characters are connected.

Torment is a film which narratively plays to Figgis’ strength. It combines the high-concept plot of Don’t You Recognise Me? (a film about a documentarian who gets more than he bargained for when hired to film a young wannabe gangster’s daily activity) with the character-driven intense family drama of Urban Traffik. The result: a blend of the claustrophobia of Ryan Reynolds’ vehicle Buried with the bleak horror of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist.

The low-budget nature of the film (it’s almost all gloomy interiors and shots from inside the coffin) feels like a benefit to Figgis this time around. Not only does the plot not demand the type of special effects used in his other output but the less polished style adds a real rawness to Torment. This sensation is vital since it’s a film, without getting into spoiler territory, about the horrors of grief and violence.

The performances here are the most consistently good of Figgis’ filmography with Fenton (The Young Offenders) delivering a tour de force as a mother who has lost everything and is failing to cope with the situation. She is so good that at times it’s almost a difficult to watch because her wails of sadness feel very authentic.

This brings me to my warnings about the film. As its title suggests, it’s an incredibly bleak, often uncomfortable movie to sit through. It tackles dark, transgressive issues and their effects on people in a very serious manner – more seriously than the typical campy or genre-based Horrorthon entry. If one is looking for something light and enjoyable, I’d suggest giving Torment a miss. However, those looking for something that will stay with them and if a haunting evocation of emotional suffering sounds compelling to you, Figgis’ latest is a must.

 

Torment screens on Sunday,  29th October 2017 at 23.00 as part of IFI Horrorthon, October 26th to 30th 2017. 

Tickets here

 

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Horrorthon Podcast with Directors Jason Figgis & Mark Sheridan

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Horrorthon Podcast with Directors Jason Figgis & Mark Sheridan

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In this podcast, Paul Farren talks to directors Jason Figgis and Mark Sheridan about their films, Don’t You Recognise Me? and Crone Wood, which are screening as part of the IFI Horrorthon.

 

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Don’t You Recognise Me?

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Events spiral dangerously out of control when a documentary maker takes a self-styled Dublin gangster as the subject of his latest film.

Don’t You Recognise Me? screens at the IFI on Thursday, 27th October 2016 @ 23.10

The screening will be introduced by director Jason Figgis.

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Screening as part of IFI Horrorthon 2016.

 

Crone Wood

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A young couple in the early stages of their romance find themselves in potentially lethal danger when they decide to camp in a remote area.

Crone Wood screens at the IFI on Sunday, 30th October 2016 @ 23.20

The screening will be introduced by director Mark Sheridan.

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Screening as part of IFI Horrorthon 2016.

 

 

 

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Film Ireland Podcast: Episode 14 – The Horror… The Horror

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In this bloodied episode Richard and Jonathan take a look at The Visit, Irish horror The Hallow and Crimson Peak.

Among the carnage, the pod people chat to director Anthony White and actor Caoimhe Cassidy, about their film The Devil’s Woods, which screens at the IFI Horrorthon this weekend. The gathered ghouls go on to spill their guts about all things horror.

Will Anthony and Caoimhe ever get out of the basement alive or are they destined to be devoured by the starving mutants Richard and Jonathan have become…

 

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Interview: Gerard Lough, director of ‘Night People’

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In Gerard Lough’s Night People, a pair of professional but badly mismatched criminals break into a vacant house to carry out an insurance scam. Awkwardly thrown together with an hour to kill, they reluctantly start telling each other tall tales. One concerns two friends who discover a mysterious device that may be of alien origin. The more they learn about it, the closer to breaking point their friendship is pushed. The other is about an ambitious business woman who provides a dating agency for wealthy   fetishists. She attempts to escape this shady line of work by taking on a new client who’s  habits may be of the vampiric variety. As the night progresses the line between fiction and reality starts to blur and the hidden agendas of both thieves become apparent.

 
 
David O’Donoghue broke into director Gerard Lough’s house, to carry out an interview ahead of Night People‘s world premiere at the IFI Horrorthon Film Festival.

 

What particular sci-fi or horror films, styles and directors influenced Night People?

The film has a lot of influences. It’s kind of a strange mix really! Anthology series like The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents were definitely a big part of it. For anyone like me who grew up in the ’70s or ’80s they definitely had a big impact. Also, the New Romantic music scene was a big influence. If anyone one film influenced Night People though it has to be Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983).

 

What was it that prompted your use of the anthology-like story-within-a-story style?

Definitely those anthology series. But also I was interested in the idea of tall tales and urban legends. We’ve all known urban myths we associate with out towns and with our people. I even remember on the playground when I would hear urban myths about films- like everyone involved in The Exorcist died or maybe it was Poltergeist or The Omen, they could never quite get it right. But I think urban legends are very interesting and so I tried to use these hyperlinked stories in the film

 

The film has a number of topics that are very important in public debate at the moment: the economy, property and sexuality. Do you intentionally draw on these themes to create powerful cinema?

The recession is all around us; we’re particularly badly affected here in the northwest. In some ways you can’t avoid it. But also there was an element of convenience to it. A lot of the story is set in a vacant house and there are plenty of those around here in Donegal. I’m not a political filmmaker but I do think I was saying something about my country in my own way. Still ambiguity is useful and more interesting to me, even if it can be tricky.

 

Do you feel making sci-fi or horror films makes it more difficult to produce a film due to prejudices against genre films?

Initially, I didn’t think so. But as I’ve gotten more involved in filmmaking I definitely have noticed something I might call ‘genre snobbery’. You’ll go to a production company and as soon as you say your film is a sci-fi/ horror they say “no, it’s not for us”. There is definitely a certain snobbery because Irish films can be so focused on social realism and historical films. In my case though, I just don’t care about genre, I want to make a good film. I’ve heard some people talk about an ‘Irish New Wave’ shedding new light on genre films – I don’t know about that but wouldn’t it be great!

 

A large portion of the film was filmed around your native Donegal. Did you enjoy capturing your own area on film?

I think there are definitely a lot of places in Donegal that are really unusual and isolated and that there are places so great you could shoot a Michael Mann film or even Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. For example, the beach that is used in one of the stories in the film. We only discovered the place, just a while up the road, shortly before filming and we found all these wonderful caves which ended up in the film. I love to shoot the real thing. It’s sitting there on your doorstep so why not shoot it right there. I really enjoyed giving the area a sense of perpetual twilight, misty and dark almost like a noir film.

 

What’s next for Gerard Lough?

Really I’m just focusing on this film now, taking care of it. I’m anticipating the premiere and how the audience will react. They say a premiere is almost like giving birth in public. In the future though, I would love to do something based around the New Romantic music scene. It was such a brief thing, it really only lasted from 1980 to ’81, but it was so interesting. I love the style and the sound of it.

 

Night People screens on Sunday, 25th October 2015 @ 23.00 as part of the IFI Horrorthon (22 – 26 October)

 
Book tickets here

 

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IFI Horrorthon 2015

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The IFI Horrorthon (22 – 26 October) returns to celebrate its 18th birthday with five days of horror in the run-up to Halloween. The full schedule is below. This year’s IFI Horrorthon guests include: director Richard Stanley, who will present his two features and some of his rarely shown shorts; scream queen, Bond girl and Hammer regular, Caroline Munro; and producer Sean Hogan and legendary illustrator Kevin O’Neill, who will attend Future Shock! The Story of 2000AD. This year’s IFI Horrorthon Honours will be bestowed on one of cinema’s most iconic figures: Christopher Lee. Tribute will be paid also to the memory of horror maestro Wes Craven with a late-night double bill and a screening of one of his best-known classics. This year’s festival includes 33 features (23 of them Irish premieres) and two shorts programmes.

Individual tickets for the IFI Horrorthon films are on sale now at the IFI Box Office in person, on the phone on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie. A new special ticket deal is available this year: 5 films for €40, 10 films for €75. A range of passes ranging from one to five days is also available. Throughout the Festival there will also be a range of special offers for blood-thirsty IFI Horrorthon fans in the IFI Café Bar.

IFI HORRORTHON 2015 – TIMETABLE

THURSDAY OCTOBER 22nd
19.00 OPENING FILM: THE INVITATION
21.00 HOWL
22.50 TURBO KID
23.00 CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT
23.00 MANIA

FRIDAY OCTOBER 23rd
13.00 IFI HORRORTHON HONOURS CHRISTOPHER LEE: THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
14.50 LAST GIRL STANDING
16.45 DUST DEVIL
Director Richard Stanley will introduce the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A
19.10 GOODNIGHT MOMMY
21.10 DEATHGASM
22.00 TRIBUTE TO WES CRAVEN: THE SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW & THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS
23.00 WORRY DOLLS
23.10 FEED THE DEVIL

SATURDAY OCTOBER 24th
13.00 NINA FOREVER
14.45 THE HALLOW
16.45 EMELIE
18.30 FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD
Producer Sean Hogan and artist Kevin O’Neill will introduce the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A
21.00 THE GREEN INFERNO
23.00 TRIBUTE TO WES CRAVEN: SCREAM
23.00 THE DEVIL’S WOODS
23.10 SCHERZO DIABOLICO

SUNDAY OCTOBER 25th
13.00 RICHARD STANLEY SHORTS PROGRAMME
Director Richard Stanley will introduce this event
14.50 SHORT FILM SHOWCASE
17.10 THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD
19.30 SURPRISE FILM
21.15 JERUZALEM
23.00 THE EXORCIST III
23.00 NIGHT PEOPLE
23.10 FACE OF THE DEVIL

MONDAY OCTOBER 26th
13.00 THE NESTING
14.50 HARDWARE
Director Richard Stanley will introduce the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A
17.00 IFI HORRORTHON HONOURS CHRISTOPHER LEE: DRACULA A.D. 1972
Actress Caroline Munro will introduce the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A
19.10 RABID DOGS
21.00 CLOSING FILM: TALES OF HALLOWEEN

Individual tickets available now for the IFI Horrorthon on 01 679 3477 or online at www.ifi.ie/horrorthon

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Interview: Conor Dowling, Co-Director of ‘The Light of Day’

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This week Dublin’s premier filmic fright fest, the Horrorthon, returns blood-stained and shambling to the IFI. Demonic possession and dismemberment are to be expected, but between the shocks and screams there are laughs to be had at the screening of the comedy mockumentary, The Light of Day.

Film Ireland picked at the brains of co-director Conor Dowling ahead of the screening this Friday. 

Set and shot in Dublin, The Light of Day follows a group of amateur filmmakers as they struggle with the horrors of low-budget filmmaking on the set of a vampire horror flick. The mockumentary follows Michael, the DOP trying to salvage the production against a horde of incompetence from the egocentric director, a desperate producer and non-existent budget.

The film was made as part of the MSc in Digital Filmmaking at Filmbase, written by Christopher Brennan and directed by students Amy Carroll, Conor Dowling and Eoin O’ Neill.

After it premiered to rave reviews at this year’s Galway Film Fleadh, Conor Dowling, who describes the team as “horror fanatics”, told us what it means to have it shown at the IFI Horrorthon. “We’re over the moon to be screening at the IFI. I’ve been going to the Horrorthon for years and it’s a genuine honour to have our film screen at it.”

The feature was the culmination of a course focused on practically preparing filmmakers for all areas of film production. Conor went on describe how this benefited the making of the film. “The course allowed the class to work together on several projects throughout the year before The Light of Day, giving us the opportunity to see what it was like to work together along with giving us top quality experience and guidance.”

This was particularly relevant for the three directors. “Before we got onto set we were all on the same page in terms of the script, the cast, the shooting style, and how all the scenes would be staged. Having three directors on a film is not very common and people often wonder how it can possibly work, but for us it was a particularly smooth process, and working with two other directors was actually a huge benefit.”

Conor explains that working collaboratively they were able to “work on our shotlists together and give feedback on the other director’s interpretations of how scenes should play out, while each bringing our own unique take and sense of humour to certain scenes. By the time it came to shoot, we were happy to divide the three shooting weeks up evenly with a week each. Having three directors also allowed us to cover more ground and sometimes even shoot simultaneously. For example, one director could be setting up for a scene in the warehouse and the other director could grab some crew, and an actor to film some additional scenes outside.”

Another topic discussed before the shoot was their influences. “When it comes to mockumentary style you have to look at the likes of The Office, both the US and UK versions, and the films of Christopher Guest. These would have been the main influences but we also looked elsewhere to get an idea of how it has been done differently. For example, I was a big fan of Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, which was a great comedy horror mockumentary in 2006 and we were all a fan of the Belgian film Man Bites Dog, which was not tonally what we were looking for but in terms of camera movement and naturalistic staging of scenes it was a great example.

“So for the mockumentary style we intended to make it look as close to real life as we could using natural light where possible, using a lot of camera movement and working with our cinematographer to obtain the fly on the wall documentary style we wanted.”

The Light of Day is told through behind-the-scenes styled footage documenting the production of the vampire horror flick, ‘The First Bite is the Deepest’. The story of the shoot develops alongside footage of the film, creating a film-within-a-film that presented both challenges and opportunities for the filmmakers. “To establish a different look and feel for the film within the film, we used a different camera and shooting style. Stepping away from the handheld mockumentary style for these scenes, we were able to use a more traditional cinematic shooting style with more complex lighting setups. The aim was to have a short cinemtic horror film split up and placed throughout the overall film, and this film was a great opportunity for us to try out different cinematic techniques and styles from some of our favourite horror and action films.”

 

The Light of Day screens on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 19.10 as part of the IFI Horrorthon 2014 (23rd – 27th October). The directors will attend the screening.

Tickets for The Light of Day are available here

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‘The Light of Day’ Screams at Horrorthon

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The Light of Day, the mockumentary about the making of a low-budget vampire horror flick, will emerge from the dead of night to sink its teeth into the IFI Horrorthon next week. The film screens on Friday, 24th October 2014 at 19.10

The Light of Day follows the doomed crew of First Bite is The Deepest, a cheap vampire flick, as they struggle to make their film. With a hapless director, inexperienced crew, world-weary producer, star with a peanut allergy and the worst product placement deals in history there’s more horror behind the scenes than in the film. Things get truly perilous when the film’s private investors pull out halfway through shooting. Now it’s up to the only two sane people on the production to salvage the shoot.

The film was made by students on the Filmbase/Staffordshire University MSc Digital Feature Film Production Course. For further details on the course, click here.

Blood-stained tickets for The Light of Day are available here

 

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