We recently had the opportunity to catch up with the writer behind the upcoming supernatural thriller Gallows Hill, Richard D’Ovidio, who has made a name for himself as a successful screenwriter on several projects over the last few years including Thir13en Ghosts, Exit Wounds and Brad Anderson’s next project, The Hive.
During our interview with D’Ovidio, we heard more about how his love for 70’s horror films inspired his latest supernaturally-infused thriller, his experiences collaborating with director Victor Garcia and the cast of Gallows Hill, and more.
Read on for our exclusive Q&A with D’Ovidio, and look for more on Gallows Hill in the near future! In the meantime be sure to “like” Gallows Hill on Facebook.
Dread Central: Can you start off by discussing what inspired the story behind Gallows Hill?
Richard D’Ovidio: I have always been a big fan of contained thrillers, and I’ve always wanted to write one. Over the last ten years I found myself watching a lot of foreign horror films because they always seemed more frightening and more believable to me than the ones we were making here in the States. I think it’s because the world and the settings were unfamiliar to me. This is what I wanted to accomplish with Gallows Hill.
I also wanted to set the story in another country where the language barrier played a part in upping the tension. We tried hard to keep raising the stakes by putting the English-speaking characters into situations where they couldn’t communicate with the Spanish-speaking characters and vice versa. I wanted the audience to feel that if the characters could only understand each other, they could work together to figure out a solution. That frustration was a part of the engine of the story.
Dread Central: Did you work with Victor once he came on board the project at all? How about the actors?
Richard D’Ovidio: Yes, I worked closely with Victor on revising the story. We’re both big fans of 70’s horror films, and we wanted this to feel as realistic as possible. Some of the movies we kept referencing were psychological thrillers like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Omen, and The Shining. I also worked closely with the actors once they came on board. It was a very interesting situation where Victor, the actors, and I were all living together in a small inn in a rural area of Bogota, and we’d get together at night after work and discuss the next day’s scenes and just keep honing the script and the characters. It was a wonderfully collaborative process and a lot of fun, too.
Dread Central: So you were on set during the entire shoot then?
Richard D’Ovidio: I was, and I had a great time in Colombia working with the actors and the crew down there. The house in the movie fits perfectly with the script, and it also had a history of its own. The producer, David Higgins, and I were standing in the dark living room one night talking about the house and what kind of scary stories it could tell, when an old framed photo of the house fell off the shelf beside us and crashed to the floor. There was no wind, no one around, and we just looked at each other and laughed. But it made us jump!
Dread Central: Because you’ve worked on numerous successful modern horror scripts, I was curious if you could talk about your genre sensibilities- what kind of stories interest you?
Richard D’Ovidio: For me, the more grounded a movie is, the more I lose myself in it. I think the reason I’m a fan of 70’s movies, especially horror, is because the stories were so believable. Even if the movie was about the devil possessing a little girl, it always seemed realistic by showing the mother exhausting every possible medical and scientific reason behind her behavior before they finally settle on possession. Or a movie where alien pods are cloning people on earth. They just captured a realism in those films that scared the crap out of me.
Lately, I really enjoy the Paranormal Activity movies and the way they can keep you on the edge of your seat with very little going on. They can send a chill up your spine with just a door closing in the background. I love that.
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