Rob Kennedy, Writer / Director of ‘The Unquiet ‘

 

The Unquiet is a psychological horror film about Ruth, a woman who wants a child more than anything—yet she’s unable to conceive. When her mother begins to suffer from dementia, Ruth becomes her full time carer. This adds extra strain to Ruth’s marriage, and her husband moves out. Desperate to have a child and save her relationship, she prays to her father’s spirit for guidance, but something else answers…

Rob Kennedy takes us behind the screams of his latest horror, which screens at this year’s IFI Horrorthon (24 -28 October).

We shot The Unquiet with a skeleton crew: I directed and operated camera, Andrew Mahon did the lighting, and Billy Keane recorded sound. Vicki Walsh handled production management, recruiting her sister, Sophie, for the job of clapper loader and their mother, Susan, for make-up. We shot the film over the course of three nights in the winter of 2019. 

My last film (Sit Beside Me) was more of a rollercoaster horror experience. This time I took a different approach—less camera movement and no jump scares. One of the big decisions I made was not to use any music, a challenge for horror. But it’s easy to jolt an audience with sudden bangs and musical stings. Instead I enhanced the natural atmosphere and let the unnerving silences stand out. This seemed to suit the tone of the film more. 

Katie Doyle—a former child actor and veteran of TV adverts—recently returned to acting, appearing in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the New Theatre. Katie took the role of Ruth above and beyond what was on the page. Beryl Phelan, a longtime collaborator of mine, played Ruth’s mother. Rounding out the cast, I’m thrilled to introduce young Robbie Hart in his first film role. We only hear Robbie’s voice, but he makes quite an impact. 

 

The Unquiet will screen at this year’s IFI Horrorthon (24 – 28 October) in the IFI on Sunday, 27th October—along with Rob’s last short, Sit Beside Me. You can buy tickets here

 

The Unquiet will also be available to watch online from this Halloween. Check out @robkennedyfilm on Instagram for updates and behind the scenes shots.

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Watch Irish Short Film: Rob Kennedy’s ‘Sit Beside Me’

Lorena Weldon

Rob Kennedy talks to Film Ireland about his new short set in a haunted cinema. 

Sit Beside Me is about an usher who becomes trapped in a haunted cinema after hours. One moment she’s sweeping popcorn, the next she’s battling a mischievous ghost. The inspiration for the film came from an old Ambrose Bierce short story: ‘The Suitable Surroundings’. It’s about how our surroundings alter how we perceive a story. I thought it would be interesting to make a horror film set in the environment in which they’re traditionally seen. I love going to the cinema. But at the same time, I’ve always found it a little bit creepy. Sitting in the dark with a group of strangers? Or alone? Sometimes the seats creak. Sometimes you hear some odd noises from your neighbours – particularly those behind you. Horror is often about feeling stranded, isolated. A cinema auditorium felt like the perfect untapped location for a scary movie. It has this palpable atmosphere of anticipation. And suspense. So I wrote the script.

My last film, a feature, Midnight Man, ended up being remade in Hollywood, a bizarre and exciting process but also a lengthy one. The negotiations and contracts took years. I was determined to go back to making a film on my own terms, relatively quickly, with a small crew. The biggest challenge was securing the location – a big thanks to Paul Ward of IMC Cinemas – arranging insurance, and working out the right time to shoot, which ended up being in the early hours of the morning before showtimes, when the cleaning crew were the only other people in the building. This definitely added to the creepy vibe I was chasing.

I operate camera on all my films, but Andrew Mahon, a longtime collaborator, figures out the lighting for me. He also built a nifty dolly track, which came in handy for the opening shot as we follow our doomed usher climbing the stairs with brush in hand. Billy Keane recorded sound.

I cast Lorena Weldon as the usher after seeing her in the TV show ‘Vikings’. She was able to convey fear with no dialogue in a way that really draws you in, which was exactly what I needed. Lorena is an exciting up-and-coming Venezuelan actress who has lived in Ireland for several years. Not only was she perfect for the usher, but she was also a breath of fresh air to work with.

This film was a proper indie effort. My girlfriend, Vicki Walsh, helped with scheduling and persuaded her multitalented family to get involved: Her mother, Susan, did makeup; her aunt Debby helped with costumes; and her sister, Sophie, had a big role to play. But I don’t want to give away too much…

 

Watch Sir Beside Me

 

Follow Rob on instagram @robkennedyfilm

 

 

 

Spotlight: Midnight Man

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