Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The Psychology Of Creating Horror: My Interview With Director Lou Simon

Lou Simon's latest journey into the dark side of the human condition is a torture nightmare situation that balances shock horror with suspense. "3: An Eye For An Eye" is available now, but Simon is most notably recognized for her 2013 slasher "Hazmat". A film widely received and embraced by the horror community. She is truly a powerhouse and triple threat as Writer, Director and Producer.

"Hazmat" kicked off, what can only be described as a "true calling" experience for Lou Simon. She has gone on to release films that explore varied subgenres with horror from psychological thriller to survival horror, with "Agoraphobia" and "All Girls Weekend". Now with her latest twisted joint making its mark in the horror community I reached out to Lou Simon to talk about her career, "3: An Eye For An Eye", and her future.

ASOUTHERNLIFE: What was your inspiration for "3: An Eye For An Eye" ?
LOU SIMON: It was a convergence of different things that happened at the same time. I wanted to make a film with a very limited cast so that I would then get a chance to really work with the actors. At the same time, the actress that plays She, Aniela McGuinness, had a double mastectomy and posted the pictures on Facebook. That got the wheels turning about a rape victim who exacts revenge on her rapist who has disfigured her. (I know, only I can turn breast cancer even darker.) Aniela was supposed to star in “All Girls Weekend” when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I had promised to write a role for her as soon as she was better. So this was written around her.

ASOUTHERNLIFE:  The film takes classic revenge horror tropes and gives them a more progressive spin, while making a clear statement about mental health. Why this specific concept? ( without giving anything away- as much as possible)
LOU SIMON: Mental health is a recurring theme in my films. I took a lot of psychology in college even though I was not a psych major, because the human mind and what motivates us is something that has always fascinated me. I had to do a lot of research on the mental health issues that are portrayed in the film, and I was shocked about the fact that this is reality for some people. Life can be so much more horrific than anything our mind can make up.

ASOUTHERNLIFE: "3" does a good job at keeping the twist ending concealed until absolutely necessary. How hard was it to maintain that element of surprise going from script to film?
LOU SIMON: In a way it was a group effort. If there was a line of dialogue or something that happened that might give it away, someone in the cast or crew pointed it out. When you write something, it’s hard to see any plot holes so it’s nice when your cast and crew can feel comfortable enough to tell you that you may have missed something.

ASOUTHERNLIFE: IMDb states that law was your choice of career before finding yourself in the film industry. How far into that first project were you when you realized that "this is it- this is what I want to do for the rest of my life?
LOU SIMON: Like most lawyers I know, I went to law school because I wanted some financial security, but it was never a calling for me. I had studied creative writing in college and wanted to be a novelist. When I discovered screenwriting, I knew that this was what I was meant to do. It comes so easily to me. I wrote several scripts before I decided to make one into a film. I could live without ever directing or producing again. I like both but my only true passion is writing. I can never live without that.

ASOUTHERNLIFE: Your first feature as writer/ director, "Hazmat", garnered both critic and fan accolades, and was a hit in the horror community. What was that like- to get that affirmation?
LOU SIMON: It was amazing. “HazMat” is still the most well-received film I made, and it took me to the UK and Berlin while I was in the festival circuit. I had been through some very rough times right before I wrote that script. In fact, I was recovering from major surgery when I wrote it. It changed my life – not only professionally, but it changed my outlook about needing security and pursuing a creative life instead.

ASOUTHERNLIFE: Did you know from the beginning that you were going to make horror movies, has the horror genre always been a favorite for you?
LOU SIMON: I feel like I write suspenseful films, not necessarily horror per se. Although often horrific things happen in them. I’ve always loved suspense – being on the edge of my seat, trying to guess what’s going to happen next, or being surprised by a twist. I just watched “The Untouchables” the other day. That scene at the train station with the baby carriage. That’s one of the most well-done suspenseful scenes I’ve ever seen, and even though I know what happens, I was still tense watching it. Definitely not horror, but suspense at its finest.

ASOUTHERNLIFE: What project or projects are you working on now? (If you can talk about them at the
moment )
LOU SIMON: I am filming my segment of an all-woman-directors, horror anthology in September. It’s nice to go back into the genre after taking a year off to film a documentary about elephants in Thailand. I hope to have thedocumentary which is titled “Goodwill Ambassador – Thailand” done soon. Then, I’ll start work on a sci-fi/horror film I wrote earlier this year.

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