We were lucky enough to have a few minutes to talk with Alistair Legrand, writer/director of the new film THE DIABOLICAL, starring Ali Larter. The film has a pretty unique twist to it, and will catch some viewers totally off-guard (see my own review of the film here).
LEGLESSCORPSE: First off, I’m not going to throw any spoilers out there; however, I have to tip my hat to you for your concept — when did this idea hit you? What was your inspiration?
ALISTAIR LEGRAND: Hi Andrew! Great website!
The idea hit me one day after watching too many awful Discovery Channel shows about ghost hunting. That combined with a love of horror and seeing that there were just TOO many poltergeist films out there inspired this. I really wanted to figure out a way to reinvent the wheel and approach the modern haunted house film from a Science Fiction perspective.
The movie looks very polished, especially for a first-time feature; a bigger tip of the hat for that. Can you tell us about the production process, working with Ali Larter, Patrick Fischler, and Arjun Gupta? I was also impressed with your younger performers, Max Rose and Chloe Perrin; how was it working with these young artists in a scary flick?
Thank you, my cinematographer JOHN FROST and I have made many music videos together. That’s where we really got the chance to refine our look. I’d call it beauty in terror. We really like stylized, glossy horror as long as the story supports it. Our production was VERY quick because we’re a smaller film. I convinced the producers to give me the job because coming from music videos I could do a lot with a very small amount — hopefully. 🙂
We shot for 20 days in February of 2014 and the post production was very long, it took us 6 months to put everything together from the effects to sound. We really wanted it to feel HUGE even though we had limited resources. Working with my cast was a dream and a half. The kids were AMAZING, that was a very long process of finding the right, natural ones because a majority of child actors seem very precocious and Max Rose and Chole Perrin were just KIDS. They stuttered and were shy and were very REAL. That helped a lot. Working with Ali was awesome, she’s just such a professional and so so intelligent. She’s gorgeous but you can also see the gears turning which is very important. Arjun is more than talented, I think he’s going to be a huge star one day so we were lucky to have him and he was great with the children.
We really tried to create a safe space and I’ve worked at a children’s camp so I know how to explain and talk to kids in a real way. We made sure Chloe knew everyone was just an actor and it’s all pretend. She was very advanced and already knew that anyway. Max was excited every single second. He’d spend his mornings rapping in the makeup trailer with our lead makeup artist Shelley Rucker and he had so much fun. I hope to keep making movies with that little guy.
Following up on what things were like on-set, are there any particular memories you’d like to share from the experience? Often in these types of films, paranormal occurrences are often reported, as well as there usually being funny experiences on any horror film; anything stick out in your mind?
YES. Okay how can I explain this in a way that makes sense….
The people that owned the house had maybe a dozen children it seemed like. They also had numerous old radios in the attic. These children were…odd. They would pop up out of nowhere while we were scouting the rooms definitely creeping us out. So I came up with a theory that the owner of the house makes children out of old radio parts. It’s the only theory that made sense because these kids would just APPEAR. It was really funny and strange.
I’ve heard The Diabolical compared to some other horror films — in my own case, I initially considered it might be an homage to The Entity (1982). After finishing the film, I kinda felt like you’d deliberately made the effort to lead the audience down the “been there, done that” road of the last twenty-to-thirty years of “ghost flicks”, with the intent of punching us in the gut with your reveal; was this the case?
You’re spot on with that one. The Entity was a strong visual influence on the film and also the relationship that Barbara Hershey had with her children in that film feels so real and alive.
That intent was definitely on purpose. We really wanted this to LOOK like a poltergeist film so that when it came time to delve into the SciFi aspects it was that much more of a surprise. It had to look beautiful but we also wanted to give a nod to the Insidious films and Poltergeist itself. The Russian film Solaris was also a huge visual influence on our lighting style.
What are some of your inspirations? Your personal favorite horror films?
Oh boy. Growing up I was turned into a horror obsessed human by Critters 2. Then I started learning about Tim Burton after a screening of Batman Returns when I was 9 and from then on I wanted to become a director.
My influences are very visual directors like Michael Bay, Michael Mann, Tony Scott, John Carpenter, and Jonathan Glazer and many more.
My personal favorite horror films are Ravenous, The Hunger, Inside, High Tension, The Hills Have Eyes remake, The Thing, the Halloween saga, Demon Night, Monster Squad, Critters 1, 2, Eyes without a Face, Visiting Hours, Suspiria, Opera. God, so many! I could go on and on.
Many things! I’m almost 90 percent sure the next movie is called CLINICAL that Luke Harvis and I wrote. It’s face transplant horror, more in a Cronenberg vein or Face Off taken very seriously. (not that Face Off isn’t the greatest movie in the world, because it is).
Well there you have it, Fellow Fans…I’d like to sincerely thank Alistair for taking the time to chat with us, and wish him the best of luck with his future work (I know I’ll be watching for it!), and if you like what you see in this interview, check out THE DIABOLICAL — it’s out in theaters, on DVD and iTunes as you read this!
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