Home Entertainment House Of Darkness director Neil LaBute doesn’t mind tricking the audience

House Of Darkness director Neil LaBute doesn’t mind tricking the audience [Exclusive Interview]

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Whenever you venture into horror movies, people are surprised, but in the 90s it seemed like you were making horror movies.

A few people I think called them horror movies. Yes, of a certain type, and you can leave so many marks just by talking to someone. I guess when you’re terrified, you’re actually free to leave real traces. That way, you get a chance to delve into something that you don’t when people are just psychologically bad. It gives you some real black and white characters who can do really scary things. And it’s such a fun genre to work in and try to get it right. I’ve had mixed success, but I definitely like it and am always drawn to it.

You shot the film mostly in one location. You’ve done it before, and obviously it’s practical during a pandemic, but how do you use limited space to reinforce themes and help tell a better story?

Of course, there’s always that balance between creativity and economics, and obviously we were at a time when it made the most sense to do something very controlled with a small cast, a small crew, and fewer locations. And it all made sense, but it wasn’t like, “Oh, I want to make one of those COVID movies where we’re locked in a room together because of this disease.” It was more about that – the perfect time to tell a story like this.

And so all those things definitely worked in our favor in terms of making the film, but to find a cool place, to find a way to build up the tension, even if it’s really just two people, and then you add a third and a fourth, that was a chance do something very controlled.

I’ve done a few things like this before. I did Some Velvet Morning a few years ago, and it was all in one house in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and just two people. I like such things. I am very drawn to such chamber works. I wouldn’t think anyone would look at it and say, “Oh, that’s quite a surprise.” So, I’m partly thinking more about the genre and where it’s going, but it was a great recipe for making a movie in that situation.

​Although the nights are never the easiest and we battled the weather and all the things you wouldn’t think would come up on a film like this, it’s amazing what can happen in two weeks. So it had its struggles, but it was a blast to put it together.

What is the best way for you to make a place cinematic?

Well, so much depends on the layout and how you intend to use the space. And it’s almost when you’re rehearsing or when you have time in rehearsal, you really want to come up with how… At that point it’s almost like a play where you’re like, “How many pages are going to happen here? What’s going to take them naturally to the next room or what will bring them out? Why don’t they come out?” There was a sense of the place and what was best about it.

Again, there was a lot of rain at this time. We were dealing with can we go outside? Should we stay inside? Should we try to shoot outside tonight or reschedule it? And if you’re on a tight schedule, you can only make so many moves before you run out of space.

So it’s a bit like a game of chess… Or maybe the Armored Car is better than chess. In chess, you can see all the pieces on the board. In Battleship, someone has to stay on the other side of the screen, where you don’t know exactly what’s going on.

The element of surprise.

yeah, so it happens a little bit, but when you have the game and the cast and the crew, you feel good about your chances, and people are on the line and doing their jobs, and COVID makes it difficult, but it’s obviously impossible. And so we got the opportunity to collect something interesting during this time.

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