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Q&A with Lucy Campbell, Director of “The Pig Child”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Horror spirit animal?
Carrie – she looks like you can push her around, but mess with her, and you’re in big trouble…
My horror spirit animal is some kind of bird, a crow maybe, but I’m still working it all out, who I am and who I want to be. So maybe my horror spirit animal is an ill defined mass of something, a bit like a dementor, but with creative energy. A shape shifter. It can be who you want it to be in that moment, take the form of a person or an animal, something expected, but behind the mask is just a cloud of energy particles. When I die it will take its form permanently. We will have to wait and see what that is..

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 keep working on the bad ideas – they are mine, and there must be something in there. So, for the Pig Child I was looking at different ways a woman might be used as a surrogate body or host, for an unnatural pregnancy. Then I thought how about, instead of the woman being the victim and having something bad done to her by evil/authoritarian/misogynistic forces, maybe she is the mistress of her own universe, and the mistress of her own fate. I was thinking about how women are more and more free to use their bodies how they want, and this is good. Scientists have experimented on their own bodies for centuries, Marie Curie, Alexander Fleming, and made discoveries this way, without having to go through experimental ethics. So then the idea became The Pig Child. The scientist uses her own body to surrogate her experiment, just to see what will happen next, not thinking the pregnancy will work, but she can’t bear to stop her research at this point. She knows what she is doing is illegal, but it is her body and she can do what she wants with it.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Not yet. Early days. I have not set out to make horror but have found that my very dark unconscious surfaces in my films. I was initially surprised (but happy) to find my dramas called horror, there are no jump scares or classic horror tropes. But my people are out there. We just need to find each other.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
My work as a doctor, while training in hospital posts and working as a GP in inner city Manchester, I have seen a lot that I can draw on in my work, in terms of atmosphere, place, how people live in different walks of life. I spent a career looking at faces, analysing character, behaviour, of doctors and of patients, in laboratories, on home visits, hospital wards, mortuaries. I have seen a lot of life and death and a lot of reality which as they say is stranger than fiction.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
My films are pretty close to my reality actually – just a little push further, but I dream all these worlds all the time, I feel that I am living this life already, in my imagination. Sometimes I have to get away from my desk and my writing in order to see some sunlight and remember that life can be completely different to what I am creating in my film worlds.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Donald Trump alone is the scariest villain character. Because he is real. And he’s in power. Donald Vs Melania Trump – she’s turned on him, there’s got to be something there. The Trump family politics imploding. He has to be a robot/ terminator, soon his eye will pop and we will see the glowing red of the electrical circuits in his head. But try to terminate him – it won’t be possible. And he’ll bring about the end of the world, with the help of that son in law, unless we can stop him…

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Jason.
Stephen King – no contest
Practical – always
Pre apocalypse – the here and now…

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
I am pretty disloyal as a fan, whatever is new is in my mind, and I forget about the great stuff I have watched. So, on that note, I was recently advised to watch an old BBC programme called BABY from a series called Beasts, made in 1976. It is about a couple who move into a farmhouse. The pregnant wife finds an old clay urn buried in a wall that they are knocking down, and inside the urn is a strange dead creature like a hairy deformed baby, dried out, wrapped in paper. It must have been there for a century or more, hidden in the wall in the sealed pot. She is creeped out by it, (the cat is terrified of it and runs away and is later found dead). The wife’s instinct is right, she wants rid of it. But the husband is fascinated by it, (he’s a vet and wants to find out what it is). He pretends to get rid of it, but actually hides it in a paper bag, in the cupboard of the room that is to be the new baby’s nursery. It is really sinister. Bad things start to happen. The acting is terrible, and the gender politics scream, but the storytelling is absolutely brilliant, it is seriously horrible.
But more recently, The Babadook. I wish I’d made it. The book inside the film is beautiful. It’s an inspiration – where great horror storytelling meets artistic gorgeousness.