Q&A with Kyle Martellacci, Director of “She Must Vanish”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Probably Randy from Scream. He just loves horror and films in general, and he loves to talk about them. I’m lucky to have a great group of friends for that kind of thing. I think most horror fans can probably relate to him so that’s kind of an easy choice.

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 toyed with creating a series of very short horror films based on the 5 senses. I always keep multiple lists of random ideas I’ve had and if at some point I come up with an idea to expand on it I’ll add details to the list. These ones were just very uninteresting, and I guess I kept coming back to them because I thought eventually something would click, but nothing really took off and I never had a moment where the stories felt like unique or good ideas. Usually I know when I like an idea because I feel that epiphany moment, like when I merge two plots together that didn’t seem obvious at first, but now feel seamless, or I think of a plot point that creates an interesting perspective for a budding idea. So I just keep losing myself in thoughts and returning to these lists until I reach that moment.
Looking at the notes I also see I had the brilliant idea of some kind of horror film involving a bathtub. There is no more info than that, and it seems like it’s for the best.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I would say yes. I’m part of a couple online communities, one specifically for Canadians where we just kind of geek out about horror, and sell and trade films. But I’m also (sorry for the plug!) part of a podcast called Poddamnation. It’s just 3 of us horror fans, but we do a horror podcast where we discuss different topics and films every month and connect with other horror fans on our social media page. It’s more for us than anything I think at this point, but at least it’s passionate and comes from an appreciation of the genre and wanting to share that love with each other and hopefully others who listen. I feel like my horror interests are kept in check both online and offline!

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
For this film in particular I took some initial inspiration from coastal horror films of the 70’s and 80’s. Films like Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary, The Witch Who Came From the Sea, and Dead and Buried. I wanted an isolated feeling for the film and a dreary atmosphere.
Also, a lot of the time I just let my mind wander as I listen to music, often soundtracks, putting images and plot points together in my head and if it’s interesting I write it down in case I want to return to the idea. I also tend to look to history for ideas, for example, with this film I did quite a bit of digging into witch hunts beyond the famous Salem history, I wanted to know names, locations, styles of executions, fears of that time. I also looked into religious symbols and did a lot of research on different lore of demonic entities believed in around the world. Not everything ends up influencing the film, but it sets a nice foundation to begin or sometimes leads me somewhere more inspiring.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
This might be a boring answer, but I think I’d probably fair alright, maybe I’m being optimistic. I feel like if I minded my own business I wouldn’t be targeted. Then again, there’s a pretty mean coven of witches so it’s not exactly the safest place. At least there’d be a nice beach nearby. I’ll just stay away on gloomy days.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
I don’t want to be unoriginal, but I mean it’s hard to think I wouldn’t want the icons in my squad, Michael Myers of course because he’s me favourite, Freddy, Jason, and Leatherface. That’s a cool squad! But I’m going to add The Thing as well because that feels like a good idea and I think it’s shape-shifting and assimilating abilities could be useful at some point. Also Ginger Fitzgerald from Ginger Snaps for interesting conversation and confident slow-mo walks. And Pumpkinhead because he is one of the coolest movie monsters. Not sure what my squad limit is, I could keep going.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy, H.P. Lovecraft, Practical, Pre-Apocalypse. With no disrespect to any of the other choices, all have their place, even CGI!

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
My nightmares. I find a lot of inspiration from them. Not just story wise, but sometimes it’s images, or feelings. Also, self-destruction, whether it’s physical or mental, and a lot of my films either play with the concept or deal with it head on. It’s not always intentional at first, but I develop it if it feels organic to the story. As for external fears I also find the idea of cults sinister and unnerving. And demons!

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
I always hesitate answering this question because it feels so definitive! But Lucky McKee’s May is one of the first horror films that comes to my mind. I love the quirky characters, the creepy music, Angela Bettis’ perfect performance and the bizarre storyline. If I were to pick something more traditionally scary I would say Black Christmas (1974). It’s just purely creeping dread; the atmosphere is fittingly and perfectly chilling.