ShockTillYouDrop.com had the chance to chat with up and coming genre film director Steven C. Miller about his latest fright flick, Under the Bed. The film tells the tale of two boys doing battle with the monster that lives under their bed.
Neal (Jonny Weston) has returned from a two-year exile following his tragic attempt to defeat the monster, only to find his father ticking ever closer to a breakdown, a new stepmother who fears him, and his little brother Paul (Gattlin Griffith), terrorized by the same monster. While Neal and Paul work together to try and fight the nocturnal menace, their parents are taking desperate measures to get the family back to normal. With no support from their parents, the brothers have nothing to rely on but each other, and courage beyond belief.
Under the Bed arrives on DVD and Blu-ray July 19th and will receive a VOD release on July 3rd. We talked with Miller about the film’s use of practical effects, the influence Miller took from films like The Gate and The Goonies, and why the target audience isn’t just adults.
Shock Till You Drop: The film employs a lot of really cool practical effects. Can you tell us a little bit about the FX team and how you came to work with them?
Steven C. Miller: Vincent Guastini is one of the first effects artists I met when I moved to L.A. And he’s done every single one of my movies, other than my first. I had such a good time working with Vincent on Under the Bed and coming up with the design for the creature. We designed the creature with a guy named Constantine [Sekeris]. He was responsible for creature designs for a lot of films, but the movie that attracted me to him was the movie Constantine. He did all the creature designs for Hell and all of that stuff. I had a really good time with Vincent and Constantine developing this creature. I wanted a body suit; something I could have an actor in with no CGI or green screen. I wanted him to be 100% head to toe real. I wanted it so that if you saw him on the street that you would believe that he came out of the gutter or the depths of hell. Both of them were fantastic to work with. They understood what I wanted to do and they understood the budget. We made the movie in fifteen days. I’m a very big fan of practical effects and I wanted to make it look as cool as possible. We had a discussion early on about why practical effects are even more important now than they were in the eighties or early nineties. Kids, for the past ten years, have seen nothing but CGI. So, I felt that if we were going to physically throw a creature at them that it would be more terrifying now. So, seeing something practical for the first time in a long time might actually be like us seeing practical effects for the first time when we were kids. So, we gravitated towards that and that made doing it a lot of fun.
Shock: There isn’t a lot of backstory about the creature or its origins. Was there ever any consideration to providing more information regarding the history of the creature?
Miller: Yeah. At one point, we did have a bigger explanation of what the monster was and where he came from. But, it came down to a budget constraint. So, if we couldn’t do it right, we didn’t want to do it at all. And it also came down to if we wanted to hit the audience over the head or if we wanted to let the mythos be what it was and then give more backstory if we were able to do a second film. Watching movies like Little Monsters or even Monsters Inc. you have these creatures with a portal. It makes you wonder what you could do if you had a monster who was using these portals under the bed. Then there was the idea of dead skin cells and how that helped the creature grow. But, we had to rein it in because we didn’t really have the time or the money to really get in to it. There definitely was talk of the mythology and where he comes from and why he does the things he does. But part of what is exciting about this film is that the audience will come out wanting to know that and hopefully the audience will demand to know the answers to the point where we can make another film.
Shock: The story played out kind of like a fairy tale for adults. I’m curious if your target audience was older children as well as adults, because this is the kind of movie that would have appealed to me when I was younger, but I still enjoyed it very much as an adult.
Miller: Yeah. It definitely is. The idea was, how far could I take a kid’s horror movie? I was thinking about what had been done in this world before with movies like The Gate and even The Goonies. Some of those movies were pretty frightening, but they were rated PG and PG-13. The idea for me was, how can I take the concept of those movies and incorporate it in to ours, because that’s what I love. That’s what I love and people aren’t really doing that right now, with the exception of Joe Dante with The Hole. I wanted it to be something that adults could enjoy but I also wanted it to be enjoyable for a twelve to fourteen year old kid. So, I guess the movie is really trying to be interesting to tweens and more mature kids, but the third act is really for the adults. That’s why there’s that tone shift. I really wanted the core audience of people in their late twenties and early thirties who grew up on these kinds of movies to be able to enjoy it as well as people who are experiencing this for the first time. I wanted to throw a bone to both groups but let the core audience know that I didn’t forget about them.
Shock: I really appreciated the relationship between the brothers in the film. It felt very authentic.
Miller: I grew up in a family with three brothers. We were each fourteen months apart. We were ten, nine, eight, and seven. We were that group of kids that would sneak down to the basement and watch horror movies together or tell stories together. So, it was important to me that people believe these brothers and believe that their relationship was real. I wanted people to be able to relate to that.