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Q&A with Mila Zuo, Director of “Carnal Orient”

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ALTER: Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
MILA ZUO: The horror character I relate to most on a spiritual level is Ripley from Alien. My horror spirit animal might be the cat in Hausu.

A: 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?
MZ: One of my bad ideas, that I nevertheless still want to direct, is a family drama based in the Star Wars universe. Like Kramer vs Kramer or Ordinary People but on the Death Star. I don’t know if there are really any “bad ideas” or just bad execution.

A: Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
MZ: I consider myself part of a horror community, but being an academic makes me something of a misfit.

A: When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
MZ: Besides looking at film, I look at contemporary art, music, design, as well as conversations happening in aesthetic theory and philosophy. What’s fun for me is to apply academic concepts, like racial indigestion (Kyla Wazana Tompkins) as with Carnal Orient, to cinema.

A: What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
MZ: I’d probably have my face ripped off and eaten.

A: Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
MZ: These maybe aren’t traditional villains, but I’d want a diverse squad: Aunt Mei from Dumplings, Thomasin from The Witch, Daniel Robitaille from Candyman, and Asami Yamazki from Audition.

A: Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
MZ: Freddy. Stephen King. Practical. Pre Apocalypse.

A: How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
MZ: With the help of friends more talented than me who can understand direction like, “more itchy and uncanny.”

A: And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
MZ: This is a tough one. It could be Suspiria, but I don’t know if I can commit to that answer since I haven’t seen it in a while!