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Q&A with Theo Watkins, Director of “Service”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Frankenstein’s Monster in the morning, Annie Wilkes after coffee, Jack Torrance as the day goes on, then Pinhead if I’m going out that evening.

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?
It feels like my bad ideas are about an inch away from the good ones. Many good ideas could be bad ones if done wrong. I mean, an evil self-service till could make a lot of commissioners laugh me out the room, but I did it anyway. An idea that seems to please everyone might not make a good film. Having said that, I’m currently looking through my old notebooks and there’s some real embarrassing stuff in here.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
Yes I do — although my taste certainly isn’t exclusively horror-focused, my work is always delving into the darker areas of my imagination. Oh, and I’m a massive fan of horror films of all shapes and sizes, so that probably qualifies me.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
As well as my deepest darkest fears, I like being inspired by the look and feel of old horror films. Anything from the old Universal monster movies to Giallo; Hammer Horror to David Cronenberg movies — the world they inhabit and atmosphere they creates resonates with me much more than newer, slicker stuff.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
This depends on which part. If we’re talking waking up in the supermarket, I’d get the hell out of there even if I haven’t bought dinner. If we’re talking the infinite hell-space till interior, I’m not sure what I’d do apart from get myself used to being in the nude.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
All the cenobites, Mother Suspiriorum, the Thing, Red Coated woman from Don’t Look Now, then the entire cult from Hereditary because they seem to be great on the organisation side of things.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy/Stephen King/Practical/Pre Apocalypse — I wouldn’t last two minutes post.

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
Myself and art director Josh Hooper wanted the till to be blocky and shoddy-looking, something a customer would look at and cringe at the idea of having to use.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
Apart from the obvious, such as getting completely bloody murdered, I’ve always been terrified of occult supernatural elements such as hexes and curses. The idea that unknown forces could destroy someone’s life is really terrifying to me. It’s the most f*cked up thing you could bring upon someone, and I often want to go straight to the most f*cked up thing in my storytelling.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
This revolves like crazy. First time I watched Hereditary it done me in for a good while. Same with The Shining. The Innocents scares the crap out of me too. Rosemary’s Baby made me not trust my own Grandma. I can’t choose, I just can’t choose.