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Screamfest LA 2013 Exclusive: Director Jose Poernomo Talks 308 Premiere

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Screamfest LA 2013 Exclusive: Director Jose Poernomo Talks 308 Premiere With director Jose Poernomo’s Indonesian supernatural horror feature 308 set for its US premiere on Saturday, October 12, at 5:30 pm in Los Angeles at the Screamfest Film Festival, read on for our exclusive chat with the filmmaker, and have a look at some stills and the trailer.

Written by Riheam Junianti and produced by Rocky Soraya, Ram Soraya and Sunil Soraya, 308 stars Shandy Aulia as the housekeeper of a 5-star beach hotel, who is warned to never open room number 308, and is based on the true legend of Nyi Roro Kidul, the spirit of the Queen of the South Sea that supposedly lives in a room of the same number in the Samudra Hotel. Actor Denny Sumargo joins the filmic proceedings.

“First of all, it’s an Indonesian legend, and Indonesian legends are rarely seen on screen around the world,” director Poernomo, who got his start helming music videos for Sony, BMG and Warner Bros., told us of what sets 308 apart from other supernatural fare.

“308 is an especially famous legend, and a lot of people have had their own first-hand experiences in regards to this supernatural being,” he continued. “In the past few years I did several ‘inside the house’ kinds of horror movies, KM 97 and Rumah Kentang (note: the latter was the number one highest grossing film in Indonesia for 2012) to name a few, [both of] which are like Insidious and The Conjuring, so doing 308 was like a getting away from ‘house horror,’ but the principle and the structure is just the same. The thing that makes Insidious and The Conjuring work in the States or Rumah Kentang work in Indonesia is the formula. We have to do something that relates to the audience. 308 is using the same relatable formula, but in a different setting. You can’t change the formula if you want a successful horror film, but you can change the story to make it new and fresh.”

As for his approach in building the tension needed, “Other films have often tried to show the supernatural being in the first second of the movie, and I think this takes away the scariness because now you already know what it looks like,” said Poernomo.

“Horror is all about anticipation and making people use their imaginations,” he continued, “and the only way to do this is to focus on the atmospheric aspect and build the creepiness. I always like atmospheric horror, concentrating and building on audience anticipation for something scary that’s always lurking, because I believe it’s scarier for most people – the ‘waiting’ of danger, rather than the danger itself – and for a movie something like that can be extended for some period of time to elevate the tension of horror. In that sense we also appreciate and use the audience’s knowledge of the urban legend [in order] to picture in their minds something scary for themselves. In other words, we don’t need to show them much. Less is more.”

As for Poernomo’s predictions regarding the Screamfest audience response, “I believe that it won’t be hard for American audiences to accept 308 because in the past there have been many successful Asian horror films in the States such as The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye and Shutter to name a few. This year there was even a successful Spanish horror called Mama. So audiences in the States can accept horror films from all over the world, as long as it has a great story and it is truly scary.”

For more on Screamfest, which runs October 8th to the 17th at the Laemmle NoHo 7 (5240 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601), visit Screamfest’s website, “like” Screamfest on Facebook, and follow Screamfest on Twitter.

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