Interview: The Rasmussen Brothers talk about their latest haunter, THE INHABITANTS (Part 2 of 2)

(This is the second part of a two part interview with The Rasmussen Brothers. Here is part one.)




In terms of putting THE INHABITANTS into the greater context of haunted house films and horror in general, where do you put the film?
Michael Rasmussen: When we sat down to make it, we had THE CHANGLING in mind. We had BURT OFFERINGS in mind. All of these old classics. Also HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. We wanted to have that throwback feel. That’s one of the reasons we were attracted to that house- it has the old New England feel. It was very intentional that we were trying to emulate those older films, but bring a little more to them. The modern audience is not going to just sit there and wait 90 minutes without even a little bit of the payoff.
Shawn Rasmussen: I like the throwback set piece, but I think that people want more. There needs to be more than just the haunting of the house. And certainly Ted [Geoghegan] did a great job- those burnt people are scary as hell. It is unintentional to have several of the same times of movie come out at the same time, but I think it’s great. There is room for them, and I think a lot of people are looking for them too.
MR: On an older interview, someone was talking to us about [John] Carpenter. We were talking about these 1970s movies that we saw growing up by [Wes] Craven and Carpenter, and how influential these movies are. We wondered if they had grown up watching the 1950s B-movies. Carpenter remade THE THING after all. A lot of the people our age who grew up on those movies are now emulating the films we grew up on. We are bringing something a little new to them, but it is funny how it keeps repeating itself.
SR: Also, that was a great time for indie filmmaking. A lot more people were given a shot to make a film with a small budget. Now, the technology is to the point where people can go microbudget. These kinds of films really lend themselves well to that. We are in a phase where there is so much content being created because technology allows it. Just look at the number of people who are making horror films.
MR: I just remembered IT FOLLOWS, which is definitely a throwback to Carpenter. There is this resurgence. I keep hearing “throwback” in so many reviews.
We are getting back to classic horror lately. Moving away from found-footage and torture-porn.
SR: I was just about to mention that torture porn seems played out. Maybe that will be the next resurgence in five or ten years.
There are definite patterns in film, and with THE INHABITANTS, WE ARE STILL HERE, and THE WITCH it seems like film is once again looking to New England as a source of horror. What drew you to creating a New England horror film?
MR: We are not from here, we grew up in Texas. We came here after college, and have been here for a while, but that does not qualify us as true New Englanders. We can bring a little bit of an outsider angle to it; an appreciation that someone who grew up here and regularly went to Salem, can’t bring.
SR: Michael did do a decent amount of research in all of the history of witches. We tried to out a lot of that into the story. The sorts of things that people did back then were really creepy. There was this pond where they would throw women. If they drowned, they weren’t a witch, but if they did then they were a witch and they would kill them anyway. It’s lose-lose.
MR: We tried to touch on the idea that she was a midwife. She was going things that may have been considered man’s work, like medicine. The witch in our film is based on Margaret Jones who was the first woman executed in New England, as a witch. She was not part of the Salem witch trials, it was before that. She was accused of practicing the dark arts. I’m sure it was a man that was threatened by this woman doing empowering things. It is neat to see witches making a comeback. I hope they do not devolve into riding brooms or stirring cauldrons. I’m not sure if you could recognize, but when he goes to the museum, that is the house where there is a museum in Salem. We got access to shoot in there from the city of Salem. We had to go before the board and explain our project. They had rejected Rob Zombie’s LORDS OF SALEM because it its take on witches.
Your ideas for THE INHABITANTS came first from having access to this house, but you made horror films even before you had access to a real haunted house. What draws you to horror?
SR: This is our first film where we did not shoot in mental hospital. We are so happy about that because those hospitals are so creepy. It was nice to be in a place with working plumbing and electricity. This is one of the reasons we wanted to do something there.
MR: Horror films garner more of a reaction than a drama or a comedy. Maybe it is because we watched them growing up. That’s where my love is.
SR: We have always loved the genre films. We are fans as much as filmmakers. When you make a movie, you want to know that there will be an audience.
MR: We have our next three or four scripts in the pipeline and these are all genre films as well. Horror can be so many things. It can be a ghost story, or a psychological story, or a creature feature. It is not that we are going over the same territory. We are happy to keep creating films in this overall genre, but try to explore different areas of it.
What is coming up next for you?
MR: We were at the Fantastic Fest Film Market two years ago with a project called SUBCULTURE, which we are working to get done. It is THE DESCENT under New York, basically. We are also finishing a script which is like The Little Mermaid, if it were written by Lovecraft.
SR: Our last two films we produced, directed, and wrote. We are excited about the possibility now of collaborating with other directors who are passionate about it. We are also working on a remake of a Spanish film, but we can’t really announce it just yet. The whole reason we started to write screenplays together is we wanted to make a movie. We have been so fortunate that we have had people like what we have written.

Deirdre Crimmins

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Deirdre (Dede) lives in Chicago (via Boston and Cleveland) with two black cats. She writes for Film Thrills, High Def Digest, The Brattle Theater, Rue Morgue Magazine, Birth.Movies.Death., and anyone else who will let her drone on about genre film. She wrote her Master's thesis on George Romero and is always hopeful that Hollywood will get its head out of its ass.

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