Though Erica works in a range of mediums, the moving image and the magic of sound bring forth the most immersive and visceral rendition of the parallel realities that drive her work. Erica teaches art and film to college students and co-owns a beer hall called American Draft.
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
I’m not entirely sure if you’d call David Lynch’s Inland Empire horror, but Laura Dern’s sheer terror as she loses her sense of reality takes my breath away every time. Something about her performance and the bizarre shifts in narrative space-time reminds me of that moment of confusion during a temporal lobe seizure. So I relate on a very personal and spiritual level.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
I think bad ideas are just vague ideas. I look at old scripts from when I was just starting out and all the beginnings were there. They were just covered in exoskeletons of things already done. It’s kind of like growing up. You have to shed all the images or personas you thought you wanted to be to become who you are. The Boogeywoman as a concept didn’t become fully defined until she got her name.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Thanks to Fantasia Film Festival this past year, where I met a lot of filmmakers with work on Alter already, I think I’ve found my people. My work as a whole tends to be on the fringes of horror, but the genre is absolutely central to my worldbuilding and atmosphere.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
My neighborhood at nightfall when the fog is rolling across Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. The strange colored light reflecting on empty streets. Quiet small towns as nostalgic arenas for romance and violence. Mythological and religious narratives, rituals, and symbolism sneak in here and there. I like to create worlds that are our own but once removed so that the augmented psychological state of the character seems wholly imaginable in the onscreen space. Sonic inspiration: Evangelista and 90s industrial. Visual: The photography of Bill Henson and Todd Hido Literature: John Hawkes, Roberto Bolaño Philosophy: In The Dust of This Planet (and the whole Horror of Philosophy series) by Eugene Thacker.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
First I’d spend some time with Keenan, the concession stand clerk. He passed away after production and every time I see him on screen, I just want to hug his neck. Then he and I would take a bottle of tequila to the Boogeywoman’s lair and plot world domination.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
The girl from The Ring on a leather studded leash for safety and Satanico Pandemonium in From Dusk til Dawn.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy or Jason: Neither. King or Lovecraft: Both. Practical!!! The apocalypse will be as drawn out as a thick southern accent and we’re already in it.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
Loss of self. Loss of grip on reality. Loss of control. I’m both terrified by and drawn to limit experiences--moments when we can step outside of ourselves or catch a glimpse of what might be beyond everyday consciousness, beyond the horizon of human knowledge. Ever since my experience with temporal lobe epilepsy, cinema has been the ultimate tool to recreate that otherworldly feeling. I take that into every story. In the Boogeywoman, the heroine’s loss of control over her own body forces her into a new era to claim a new power. In the feature version of The Boogeywoman, in development now, outside violence rips the protagonist from her complacent consciousness and forces her to recognize the cycles of abuse at play in her family. Her psychological break propels her into a future free of abuse.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
Very difficult. I’m a diehard Lynch fan, and Lost Highway is the unsettling number that put me on the filmmaking trajectory. But I love Korean horror. Park Chan Wook’s Thirst (a vampire spin on Emile Zola’s novel Therese Raquin) and Na Hong-jin’s The Wailing are superb.