Q&A with Tom Benn, Screenwriter of “Real Gods Require Blood”

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ALTER: Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
TOM BENN: Maybe Harry Angel from Angel Heart. The disbelieving, self-deceiving private eye who’s secretly hired (by the devil, no less) to locate and confront himself. It’s a riff on the Oedipus myth. A horrifying, fatalistic loop. But the idea that we all, on some level, manage to trick and trap ourselves by displacing responsibilities, is relatable, I think. We end up trying to outrun our past by chasing its shadow.

A: Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
TB: I haven’t been taught a special handshake. But at the 2017 BFI London Film Festival, we did bump into Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who made Spring and The Endless. We had a great chat. They were very, very kind. It’s always a relief to go to these places and find some fellow genre interlopers

A: What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
TB: I’m not as kind or compromised or brave as Alice, the film’s protagonist, but I’d probably do worse in her place. The scenario in which Alice finds herself is aporetic. She’s stuck, like in a nightmare. All paths appear blocked, either immediately or round the next corner; even the path she arrived on. Whatever she does or doesn’t do may damn her or damn those even more vulnerable than her.

A: Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
TB: Pinhead. The indiscriminate logic of ‘You solved the box; we came’ is scarier to me than Freddy and Jason’s methods or motivations. In the original Hellraiser, there’s no why. The universe doesn’t care about humanity’s quest for knowledge, meaning, answers. Have some pain.
Lovecraft. A truly ugly pitiless vision and visionary.
Practical. Cronenberg may now prefer digital to film, but I can’t imagine his body horrors being as viscerally effective if they were made today, using CGI.
All horror is apocalyptic, I think, regardless of setting. Isn’t it fundamentally about our fear of and fascination with death?

A: And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
TB: Takashi Miike’s Audition (1999) or Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961). Both invaded my dreams and went to work.