A recent resurgence of all things supernatural to cinema screens has had various degrees of success to put it politely, but nevertheless always draws in audiences.
With that you could say director Andre Ovredal’s latest, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, faces an uphill battle from the offset. But when you receive a shiny, quite possibly bloodied, stamp of approval from none other than Stephen King it certainly makes matters more intriguing.
We caught up with the man himself, Andre Ovredal, to chat about all things ‘Jane Doe and more.
I hope it will play well to also an audience that isn’t your typical horror audience.
I think we are telling an interesting mystery at the bottom of everything and that intrigues anybody. I was always working hard to present the horror in an eloquent way so it wouldn’t become gratuitous.
So it is possible for a broader audience to accept it and I hope we have achieved that.
No doubt you’ve been asked to read a tonne of scripts of this genre in your time. What grabbed your attention when you read this one for the first time?
I fell in love with it. The tension between father and son and the mystery was so intriguing.
I love a movie that is about people that are doing a job, in a way, and it’s fascinating to watch how they handle themselves. Generally I am so pro-occupied with how people deal with the supernatural.
Like anything from the idea of a god to the supernatural of this film or even a Troll Hunter.
Were you apprehensive at all about picking this project given there’s been an influx in the mainstream of films from this genre in the past few years?
A little bit, yeah. It’s hard to make a unique horror movie and even harder to find a script where you haven’t seen something that’s been done a million times.
I was super intrigued when I got this script – I loved it from its title page. It’s just clear cut – the movie know what it is in that way. It’s not trying to be everything, it’s just trying to be what it is.
Would you say that is one of the issues the horror genre faces?
That is a good question. Yeah. Everything has been done so many times in horror and there are so many horror movies being made.
It is a low-budget genre, an entry genre for so many filmmakers. I think what separates movies is the script – someone was able to think up an idea that is different and stands out in a way.
What I can do as a filmmaker, as a director, is present that in the best possible way. I love classical filmmaking even though Troll Hunter was very un-classical in its style and became part of a time ghost in that particular moment.
I found that a well told story, very tightly written, and all I had to do is tell it precisely.
We read that the film was shot in sequence, which is unusual. Tell us about that and is that something you prefer to the usual way things are done?
It was in a way necessary. But you only discover that after you breakdown the script into the realities of shooting something then suddenly realise it is so complex.
The continuity on her body and shooting out of sequence, it is a simple problem of having to re-build her in a way to a previous scene a minute after you’re done with the exiting scene. It stops the process of filmmaking that you lose so much time.
It was actually the most efficient way to shoot the movie. And of course we built the set, the whole big piece that we could just walk through the entire thing with a camera if we wanted to. It was all made, in a way, that we lived in it for the five weeks.
It is quite an intimate film and that’s one of the reasons it works so well – what was filming in such an intimate setting like?
I loved it – it is a very confined environment but in a way I always wanted to make sure the film didn’t feel claustrophobic.
It’s all about making it a rich enough environment so that the film played in an interesting way. We went through the entire script and developed the design of the rooms and everything just to create enough interesting angles.
And how tricky was it to strike the balance between comic relief and real genuine scares as well as tension.
It’s always a tricky thing but I think the audience needs it. There’s not that much tension relievers in Jane Doe in a way – there are a few of them. When you build up enough it is so good to go out with a laugh at the end of it.
It’s just like an emotional twist to your entire body as an audience member, it is just enjoyable.
How surreal was it to get such positive feedback from someone like Stephen King?
That’s insane – god. That is probably the craziest thing that has happened in my career when Stephen Kings tweets about the movie! It is the best endorsement ever.
THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE: Visceral horror to rival ALIEN and early Cronenberg. Watch it, but not alone.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) January 11, 2017
With that ending how open would you be to return for a sequel and have you got any ideas for one?
Yeah, of course. We are, there is obviously talk of doing a sequel because it is set up in that way. It is a story of eternity for her in a way.
Ehhh there is. There a few ideas but none that we can talk about. [laughs]
You are also working on Mortal so what can you tell us about it?
We were supposed to shoot it last fall but we got too far into fall and we were losing light at the end of the shoot.
We had to postpone it because in Norway it gets so dark in the winter. Our schedule got pushed so far into November and you get only half production days – such a waste of time and money. We are starting to shoot in.
It’s set in Norway – it’s a Norwegian/British/American production that is a similar set up to Jane Doe actually. It’s like the best of Troll Hunter and Jane Doe in many ways.
The Autopsy of Jane Doe is out now on DVD and VOD courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment