Q&A with Bloody Cuts, the filmmakers behind “The Outer Darkness”
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
AM: It’s not really from a horror film, but it is horrifying. I recently watched and loved Paul Schrader’s First Reformed and was captivated by Ethan Hawke’s ‘Ernst Toller’. I’m not sure I connected with the character on a spiritual level per se, although his battle with his personal faith surrounded by the grim reality of humanities ignorance certainly captures the spirit of the time and my attention.
Or ‘Rawhead Rex’ He’s punk rock. The film is not.
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?
AM: Writing is deleting. I’ve been trying to get Ben to work with me on a script called ‘Stone Crabs’ for years… I’m not going to tell you what it is, because I still think it’s great and you might steal it…
BF: It’s not great and you won’t.
AM: Oh you… In all honesty our creative partnership enables us to bounce ideas back and forth and pretty much always our rally of thought produces results; definitely at the conceptual stage. Our spark and the spark of Bloody Cuts has always been collaboration and we’re firm believers in that you’re only as strong as the team you surround yourself with.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
AM: I suppose we are somewhat, maybe as fan’s first though. Generally, we’d have to say that ironically the horror community is the nicest bunch in the industry. We tend to communicate with the horror community online and over the years it has been very kind and responsive to our work, spurning us on the keep making more content and telling new stories.
BF: It’s quite hard to define what the horror community looks like really, and where it starts or ends. But as fans of the genre and as filmmakers who love making scary movies, there’s definitely a sense of camaraderie I guess, that you definitely get when you get to meet and talk to people at festivals and screenings. Also from the fans that watch our movies and leave us comments or write us emails – it’s fantastic to see people who love the genre appreciating our work.
Thing is, in spite of the box office success of major horror films in recent times (like ‘A Quiet Place’), the genre is still sometimes seen as a bit of an outlier. Viewers and critics can be very dismissive of it, which is a shame, but because of that it does create more of a solidarity with other horror filmmakers and fans because we realise we still have our little niche and that’s quite special I think.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
AM: The genesis of our world obviously comes from Joel Morgan’s excellent script born from the story which existed in an earlier form called ‘The Circle’. We developed the script together back in 2014 and in doing so surrounded ourselves with film, artwork and music which began to build the tone of the world. We scrape mood boards for our projects, pulling together references old and new. I developed my love for the art of ‘Zdzisław Beksiński’ over this period which tonally steered ‘The Outer Darkness’ from my point of view, as did the music of ‘Elysian Fields, Arms and Sleepers, Deaf Center and Rafael Anton Irisarri’ to name a few.
Link to Mood Boards
Link to Spotify Playlist
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
Hah! Sometimes I feel like Ben and I regularly wake up there in as much as, we sit in rooms and discuss stories of the supernatural with terrified looking patrons of a secret assembly. Or is that just film industry pitch meetings? Seriously though, I can relate to why the members of ‘The Circle’ would seek out father Crowe’s guidance if the existence of the supernatural was revealed to me. Therefore, I’d try and seek out someone to share my story with hoping that their counsel was as well-meaning as father Crowe’s. Wink, wink.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
BF: I’d be utterly terrified by a mash-up of little 80’s monsters… Chucky, Gremlins, Critters, Ghoulies, Munchies… Imagine having to battle that lot of malevolent beasties?!
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
BF: Freddy. Stephen King. Practical. Pre Apocalypse.
AM: Freddy. Lovecraft. Practical. Apocalypse is a state of mind.
How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
BF: It depends, film to film, on what the particular demands are and how much money we’ve got. Or haven’t got! But we usually have an idea for the design of the main props and production elements, and begin working on those early on in the process. In the case of ‘The Outer Darkness’, my own father created the roulette wheel that becomes the main centrepiece of the first few episodes. It’s a fantastic, fully functioning table that looked absolutely terrific on-set and he did an amazing job with it.
With that particular design, there’s obviously a very familiar casino/Family Fortune aspect to our ‘wheel of death’ that affords us – as storytellers – to play with the idea of gambling and unpredictability. I think viewers are drawn into wanting to see how the game itself plays out, and then watch how we ratchet the up the horror with each spin of the wheel. It’s a great way to play with tension… that click, click, click sound as the wheel slows down, and our characters await their fate, was a lot of fun to work with in the edit particularly.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
BF: Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant and eminently rewatchable ‘The Shining’.
AM: Clive Barker’s ‘Hellraiser’, closely followed by Lars Von Trier’s ‘Antichrist.’