1 What are the strongest influences on your aesthetic, both in cinema and in other art forms?
Our films aren’t very referential to other works of cinema if we can avoid it, but we have ungodly respect for the DIY filmmakers that have paved the way for us to hopefully someday break out to a larger audience. Trailblazers like Soderbergh, Amy Seimetz, the Duplass brothers, Greta Gerwig, anyone who seemed to have picked up a camera and started shooting and let the details fall into place naturally. They just make their movies for a small enough budget that there’s no compromise, they do as much as they can themselves, and they consistently make great cinema.
In literature, it’s not so much Lovecraft as people would suspect, but rather, those who read Lovecraft. Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Mark Danielewski. Also, deep-dives on fringe culture in Wikipedia have populated our most unsavory nights.
2 There has been a lot of discussion online of what precisely is a horror film, with many attempting to slice films out of the genre as it gradually shifts away from the dominant forms that developed in 60s and 70s America. Have you personally experienced a sense of this change, in your own creative process, or from the films and filmmakers you have come into contact with?
The debate of “what is a horror film” has been alive since we became filmmakers. For example, when people say they don’t like horror films, what they often mean is they don’t like slasher films -- a very narrow subgenre that has co-opted the word “horror” in many peoples’ minds. So, audiences are surprised when a film doesn’t do exactly that, and the debate rages on.
Our films have always been on the cusp of being considered “true” horror or not, and sometimes derided for not having enough violence. This is ridiculous. The genre label should only be applied in order to have a way to be talking about the same thing — descriptively. But sometimes fans get caught in a trap, making it something prescriptive instead: “it’s only good IF it hits these checkboxes”, rather than “it hits these checkboxes, therefore it is horror”. It doesn’t take the movie as it comes on its own, it’s placing a framework the unwatched movie must subscribe to.
For us, genre’s just a label that’s applied by the marketing department at a distribution company. We want to make films that give you a true sense of being frightened, but sometimes we want to spend time with our characters or dive into our environment, things that can emotionally build the scares when they come but aren’t directly frightening themselves. All that said, the majority of our viewers connect with the film because they subvert genre expectations, not in spite of it.