Shock Interview: Resolution’s Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Today, Tribeca Films ushers Resolution into theaters, albeit in an extremely limited theatrical run.  There’s good news, however, if the film isn’t playing near you, you can find it on VOD – and we recommend you do so.

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, Resolution stars Peter Cilella as Michael, a man who venture out to a secluded cabin to help his friend Chris (Vinny Curran) go cold turkey.  He handcuffs Chris to the wall, provides him with food, water and friendly company until Chris kicks his drug addiction.  But, it turns out, there’s a sinister force watching them and peculiar events begin to occur.  Is it the work of a weirdo UFO cult?  The drug dealers threatening Chris?  Or something else? spoke with Benson (who also wrote the script) and Moorhead about the production and what is wrong with horror today.

Shock Till You Drop:  First and foremost, where did the idea of Resolution come from?

Justin Benson:  It was really about taking the resources we had and making a film that’s actually scary.  We have a huge respect for make-up FX, but make-up FX every ten minutes isn’t that scary.  Jump scares are really not that scary.  You want to get under people’s skin and tell the most scary movie we could with the resources Aaron and I had.

Aaron Scott Moorhead:  We were also told that if you direct indie films, it will help you get girls a lot easier.

Shock: Has that held true?

Moorhead:  [laughs]  No.

Shock:  Did the shoot go rather smoothly?

Benson:  Aaron and I have, collectively, about 20 years of do-it-yourself filmmaking between us so there really wasn’t anything bad.  Things went really well.  Rain put us a few days behind, but we were three days ahead of schedule so we turned out okay and we worked with the performers months ahead of time, so we went with three to four takes.  The snag we really hit, and it really wasn’t a snag, was the emotions you have when you finish a film and you’re like, ‘Hey, how do we get into a film festival, and start a bidding war?’  

Moorhead:  That’s not going to happen.

Benson:  Yeah, good luck guys.  But we did make it into a film festival and it did sell after its premiere and it did get people talking.  When we set out to do this movie, we wanted to make something scary with characters you care about?  How do you make an audience connect with your characters?  You have them say something heartbreaking one second and then say something hilarious in the next.  That’s closer to real life.  Those are great tools to have to make the characters more believable so when scary shit happens to them, it’s much more effective.

Shock:  How did Vinny take to spending most of the movie handcuffed to a wall?

Moorhead:  He was excited about, trying to find something new with it each time.  You’d figure he’d be against it but was like, ‘Oh yeah, me and Pete will just stay in the cabin and I’ll stay chained to the wall.’  The initial talks were ‘Um, no, you’re a good actor, you can pretend.  The funny story is that we asked him not to shower the entire time and also a week before the shoot.  We never brought this up with him, but he smelled real bad.  There was a natural feeling you get with that, with your hair and the way your skin gets and he went with it.

Shock:  Are you looking forward to tackling other genres now?

Benson:  We never reverse-engineer what genres we’re going to work on next or in.  We do tend to gravitate to high-concept genre stuff.  The next three scripts we have all have some genre element to them.  Action-adventure, horror or sci-fi.  But we never think, ‘We’re going to do a horror film next or a sci-fi movie next.’  All of the movies are like Resolution with prominent character drama.  One is an action-adventure with horror element, another is a romance with a horror element and one of them is a revenge western than anything.  But once you read the script, you’re wondering, what kind of movie is this?

Shock:  Blending genres certainly mixes things up…

Benson:  Well, not to sound like a rebellious film school graduate, but genre is a marketing term.  It’s just a definition, but it’s not something you have to do to make it interesting.  To be interesting, don’t be boring.  That’s a general rule.  Marketing is important and stuff, but that’s their job.  Ultimately, with horror films, the rule is to make a scary movie.  That’s it.  So many are not scary, so what’s the point.  [laughs]  We’re seeing in the same monsters in the same mythologies over and over.

Moorhead:  There’s a reason the low budget horror genre is looked down upon and it’s not because there’s a fault in the genre.  The fault is in bad prioritization of what’s important to make a movie followed by the fact that it’s easier to sell a bad horror movie.  It’s easier to sell a bad horror movie than a bad drama.

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