So, House on the Witchpit.
I’ve been messing around with the screenplay since about 2002, and it has changed a lot. The first draft was a fairly cheerful horror comedy; heavy on the sexy witches angle and up to the eyeballs in debt to Warlock in terms of structure. That first draft is pretty close to TrashHouse in terms of tone, and if I’d have shot it when I intended to (around 2005) it would probably have fit reasonably nicely into my output.
Times change, things move on. House on the Witchpit is no longer a frothy horror comedy; the only function of the screenplay is to scare the living shit out of the viewer, and it skews pretty goddamn dark. Then again, I like to think I’ve come a fair way since TrashHouse too. I hope my movies are getting more interesting and less easy to categorise, and the new-look HotWP fits into my later stuff pretty well.
Writing about bleak situations is a strange sensation for me. I’m a generally pretty upbeat kind of guy, and I feel somewhat detached from the jet-black sentiments that I seem to be capable of pouring onto paper (and then transferring onto the screen from there). I can’t work out if I feel better or worse to ‘let them out’ or whether they end up tainting my day; hanging around after me like an evil cloud. Either way, the words seem to want to hit the paper, so I let them. But how dark do I seriously want to let this go? People who ultimately plonk their arses down in front of House on the Witchpit will be expecting a horror movie. They’re watching it to be disturbed or creeped out, at least to some extent. But how serious are they about that?
In other words, just how dark do horror movie viewers want their horrors to get?
I’m intrigued to check out von Trier’s AntiChrist, which seems to have taken the idea of how far to push and really run with it. I’ve heard all sorts of mixed opinions, from those who consider it the most effective horror of the last decade through to those who find it utterly laughable. Now matter how far I take HotWP, I can’t see myself going to the visual extremes that von Trier has gone. But emotionally? How far is too far?
And, ultimately, am I willing to let go of the part of me that ultimately just wants my viewers to have fun? Because if you’re going to deny them fun, you’d better have a damn good reason for it.
Decisions, decisions. I’m extremely proud of the script, though, and hope I make the right choices.