Chris Elena is a director and writer, known for Audio Guide (2020), Kill Your Darlings (2010) and The Limited (2016).
Q & A
Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
Hero – R.J MacReady, because I would also use common sense and a bottle of scotch to get through an alien invasion. Villain – Captain Spaulding. Because I love clowns, fried chicken and the Marx Brothers.
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?
The worst idea I had for Audio Guide was adding and establishing relationships Audrey (our protagonist) had with people in her life. I toyed with the idea of doing this without any dialogue. This was a terrible idea and purely because it undermined the reason why I was in love with the story – We meet, and stay with a character through circumstance and we get to know and empathize with them through the choices they make. We learn as much about them in those choices that adding a backstory would only distract from that.
Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
I do. Even if I don’t talk about horror films anywhere near as much as I used to growing up.
When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
I look to horror and sci-fi films with the most grounded and atmospheric world imaginable. For example, The Thing – Everything in that film looks and feels genuine. That’s including character decisions, location, appearance – And it makes everything that happens in the second half all the more terrifying and unpredictable. The best genre films are the ones where you have no idea what’s about to happen and you care and believe every character that’s about to witness and experience it all.
What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
I tell myself I’d stop listening to the audio guide the minute I knew what the device was capable of, but like Audrey I just know I’d keep listening and find out answers to questions I shouldn’t be asking in the first place.
Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
Blacula, Freddy, Hannibal Lecter, Leslie Vernon and Chucky – All horror characters I think would make for the best conversations.
Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Freddy. Stephen King. Practical (Always). Pre apocalypse. I think we’ve all seen post Apocalypse and it always looks and feels the same.
What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
I know it’s a cliched answer but – Death. Death scares me the most, that’s why I love horror films so much, it’s the genre that focuses and explores it the most. And my fear of death makes me ask more questions and forces me to have more complexity and dimensions when it comes to establishing characters and story.
And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favorite scary movie?’
It’s a three way tie – The Thing, Blacula and Suspiria (2018) – Special shout out to The People Under The Stairs, Ghosts of Mars, A Nightmare On Elm Street 2 and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (The first two)