Respecting the Horror Genre: A Conversation with Caradog W. James for the release of Don’t Knock Twice
For Jess, life has never been better. A successful American sculptor, she has recently returned to the UK, where she spent much of her troubled youth. Now happily married, wealthy and settled, all that remains to make her life complete is to rebuild her relationship with Chloe, the daughter she was forced to give up nine years ago. So when Chloe agrees to come and live with her, Jess is optimistic that she can make amends and be a good mother once more.
What Jess doesn’t know is that Chloe has not come to stay because she wants to get to know her mother again. She has come because she is scared that a supernatural curse has claimed the life of her boyfriend, Danny, and is now coming for her. Chloe and Danny made the mistake of revisiting an abandoned house, once home to ‘Ginger’, a mysterious old woman said by some to be a witch. Local legend says that if you knock on her door then the vengeful ghost of Ginger will snatch you away to her hellish limbo.
At first Jess puts Chloe’s erratic behaviour down to the trauma of her past and the resentment she still feels for being abandoned. But soon Jess comes to realise that she is all that stands between her daughter and a formidable and terrifying supernatural force. Thrown into a battle for survival, Jess must learn the truth behind the legend of the witch and ultimately make the bravest sacrifice of all and knock on Ginger’s door herself…
In our EXCLUSIVE interview, The Fan Carpet‘s Jessen Aroonachellum spoke to Multi-talented Caragog W. James about the filmmaking process that went into Don’t Knock Twice, his admiration of Katee Sackhoff and filming on location…
What made you want you make the film?
When I did the film, The Machine and we were showing it in New York and I’d seen it 500 times at that point, I was watching the audience sitting on the edge of they seats or when they jumped up. And I thought wouldn’t it be fun to make a film with lots of those moments and, of course, horror films are a good opportunity to do that. Engage and manipulate the audience. I spoke to my producer and he found this great script by Mark (Huckerby) and Nick(Ostler). I read it and it was a first draft, so i could put my ideas in it but at it’s core it was a strong horror movie.
Were you influenced by other films in the genre?
I wasn’t a big horror fan. However, for this film, I would watch as much horror films as I could. More horror films I watched, the more respect I had for the genre. Sometimes horror films get a bad rap but if you watch the good ones, there is great filmmaking in them.
It’s so hard to get right and I realised why so many filmmakers stay in this genre. You can learn a lot. It’s really tough for actors in horror movies because there is so much to do and you can see so many big stars that come from it. There is so much craft, what a actor brings to a horror film, so many extreme emotions which is hard to pull off.
Can you talk about the use of cameras in this film as it was mentioned you wanted to do something different for this film.
It’s not really different but getting the best out of every scene. It’s a low budget movie. So, you don’t get many set ups and you need prep every right. Try to build the right combination of shots to build the right amount of tension for the movie.
To be as beautiful as possible. It’s something I love. You don’t always get the shot you want but when you do it feels good and that’s the fascinating part of filmmaking.
What was it like to film in the location?
Being a small budget movie you don’t have a sound stage. So, locations are very important in the world building within the movie.
Trying to make a universal story. So, finding the location, finding big epic spaces to bring production value. John, the producer, was very good at finding these location and our production designer was really great at this despite our budget.
What was the cast like in the film?
They were great. We were so lucky to have Katee Sackhoff sign off on the script. I’m a massive fan of her. She typically plays tough characters and not soft characters. And, what I like about that is she showed vulnerability and toughness and it was something I like to explore. She was wonderful and Nick Moran shows a broken quality that I haven’t seen before. Also with the characters played by Pooneh Hajimohammadi and Lucy Boynton, who we got at the right time as she doing these amazing projects now.
DON’T KNOCK TWICE IS OUT IN CINEMAS TODAY