Q&A with Bret Miller, Director of “Apollyon”

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Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level? 

Excellent question. Right now, I relate to Herbert West from Re-Animator. He’s so obsessed with his work, to the point where it completely consumes him. Extremely unhealthy, but relatable.

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?

Most of my ideas are bad ideas. The hope is that, after 99 bad ideas, the 100th idea is something to be extremely proud of. The trick that I learned many years ago is to not fear the bad ideas, but to celebrate them. Each idea leads to another, and eventually a million dollar idea comes to me. 

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?

In addition to creating horror films, I try to study and write about other horror works that inspire me. So, yes, I do consider myself a part of the horror community.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration? 

I find inspiration in several places. I take a ton of inspiration from current events and world history, to start. The way people treat each other, tragic and beautiful events, anything that gets my blood pumping eventually finds its way into a story in one way or another. 

Artistically, I watch many films in order to set a mood. For framing, I spend time at art museums (the Detroit Institute of Art is my favorite) and study some of the most beautiful portraits ever painted. Many of the frames in my films are inspired by paintings. 

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film? 

I’d be doomed, first to go.

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?

Leatherface for the sheer power, Michael Myers for the invincibility, the alien from The Thing for the ability to blend in with the enemy, and Pinhead because how can you beat someone who bends time and space? 

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

Freddy by a mile. 

Stephen is KING. 

Practical is always preferred! Such beautiful artistry. CGI is best to fill in the cracks, so to speak. 

Pre Apocalypse, because there is still an element of hope. And it’s important to have a hint of beauty, even in horror.

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar? 

99% of the monster effects in our film was created practically, with some atmosphere created in post. Our Production Designer, Pat Bird, learned an interesting technique from the Stan Winton School of Character Arts. He took plastic, manipulated it, and used air to move the parts however he liked. It was pioneered by Billy Bryan (famous for creating the Staypuft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters, among others), and Pat and I crafted it to fit our personal narrative. 

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?

I am so horrified of the animalistic characteristics of humans. I always felt that the film Contagion had the best tagline on release – “Nothing spreads faster than fear,” and I truly believe that. It effects our conscious and subconscious, our decisions and the outcome of those decisions. Human nature is such a hard thing to predict or prepare for, it’s extremely frightening to me, 

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’

Urgh, too many to choose. My trifecta of perfect movies is Psycho, Jaws, and The Orphanage. But for the sake of the question, I’m goin’ Black Christmas. Billy is the greatest serial killer in cinema history.