Diehard fans will always love slashers. But what kills this genre for the rest of us are the stupid characters who do what nobody in their right mind would do. You know what I’m talking about. The girl who goes to look behind the door instead of getting the fuck out of the house.
A cinematic experience requires a certain amount of suspension of disbelief from the viewer. That means you have to believe that what you’re seeing on the screen is real. If you’re constantly going “Yeah, right”, chances are, the movie isn’t delivering what it’s supposed to. However, with Scythe, Jim Rothman is making a new kind of slasher film. One that is rooted in realism, and rises above the stereotypical weaknesses that these films typically contain. We spoke to him about the genre and about his film in particular.
Morpheus // Your project is a different take on an established form. Why do you think there has been such little effort to push the boundaries on the slasher film?
Rothman // The slasher film genre has been dormant for quite a number of years. It is just now beginning to make a comeback. It’s hard to say. Perhaps people just didn’t contemplate that approach. We are focusing on creating a dramatic film about a woman who is being chased and hunted by a notorious serial killer, which also happens to make it a slasher film, so perspective could be the thing that simply separates us.
You audience’s expectations are likely to be thwarted if they’re anticipating a traditional slasher film. How have past audiences responded to this?
Audiences are always in the mood for something new. But they are also more responsive if the setup is familiar. If you approach a scene and act as if the conclusion is meant to be a traditional slasher film, then change the outcome, trick the audience, play against their pre-conceived notions, then they suddenly thrust their attention into the film and start focusing more on the story. You gave them a set-up where they thought they knew was going to happen, then it didn’t happen, so they are forced to invest and follow along.
What slasher cliches have you purposely subverted?
The ones I hate the most. Women who run, trip, fall and then suddenly can no long get up, seeing the killer’s reflection in the mirror, taking a shower and the killer striking, not being able to use car keys, doorknobs, the cat jump scare, living in modern society where they are no guns around, etc. As a writer, the enjoyment comes from creating a set-up where the odds are impossible for either the victim or even the killer to win, and to figure out how either of them get out of it.
In doing away with the traditional cliches, did you find that you were freed up to be more imaginative or did it make the creative process more difficult?
Both. Those traditional cliches are what served the slasher film genre for decades and they were easy to fall back and rely on. Slasher films were formulaic. But they also happen to be the thing that people are tired of seeing. If you have a house sequence, there are only so many places a person can run to or hide and feasibly get away from the killer. Which is why they should be running out the front door of course. In our film, the killer physically prevents doors from being open and keeps the victims trapped inside the house. So they have no choice but to find a way to fight. That’s the limitation of taking a cliche, sealing off an easy solution, and then forcing you to be more creative in the outcome.
Did you make your film with the traditional slasher audience in mind, or do you expect a broader appeal?
As the film will have a slasher/horror film appeal, we are expecting the slasher film audience to be the ones that show up the most. However, as the story itself is designed as a dramatic film, it could potentially have broader appeal to an older audience.
I hate to use a cliche, but how would you describe our film in terms of “this meet that” film?
It’s HALLOWEEN meets SAW, with a touch of Hitchcock in there for flavor.
At what stage of the process are you in as far as the production and release of Scythe?
We are currently in the money raising phase of SCYTHE. The budget is $100,000. Half of that money has already been raised through investors. The other half is currently being raised on Kickstarter. As of Monday, we are 41% raised and 9 days away from the end of the campaign. There is always a huge turnout the last week and the last day of the campaign in an effort to help the campaign successfully cross the finish line. Over the course of the next week, my job will be to help get people to pledge to prove that it will indeed happen. And I believe it will. What most people need to understand is that with Kickstarter, if you pledge and we are not successful for some reason you lose nothing. If we don’t make it to $50,000, we get nothing. It is all or none. If you are not expected to be paid right away, it doesn’t matter. Kickstarter will only take your pledge after the campaign is over and you have an additional week after the campaign ends in order to make the funds available. And I’d also like to mention we have a lot of amazing prizes and perks to pledge for, things not normally seen apart of a Kickstarter campaign. For example, if you have a favorite toy or item that you would like to see in the film, you can give it to us and we can put it in the film for you. Check us out! I guarantee there is something there you will enjoy!
Check out the short: