Director Leigh Janiak of the much talked about SXSW Midnighter Honeymoon (review) was cool enough speak to us about her little film with big ideas and why Gareth Edwards’ Monsters might be the reason that the film exists at all.
Honeymoon will also be playing during the Tribeca Film Fest next month so you have a chance to catch it there if you missed down in Austin, Texas.
DC: Do you like being a part of the Midnighters slate at a festival? Do you think it highlights the film more, and do you mind it premiering so late at night?
LJ: No, I love it; I think it’s actually great. The movie isn’t a typical horror movie, but it’s definitely genre so I’m thrilled to be included with the Midnighters. I’m just really excited.
DC: Just to separate you from the pack a little bit from the other films at the festival, how have you been describing the film, and what led you down the path to making it?
LJ: I like thinking about it as an intimate, grounded genre movie. I think that’s the best way to describe it. It’s more like a sci-fi psychological thriller. My writing partner had been writing scripts for years and doing the whole, ‘We’re going to go pitch to production companies’ and doing that whole side of the business. It was around 2009 that I had seen Tiny Furniture and Monsters, and both of those resonated with me. That was when we made the decision that the next project we do is going to be something I am going to make no matter what. I was so inspired by Monsters particularly because the things that they did with that budget were just unbelievable.
DC: I’m glad you mentioned Monsters; I love that film. It’s crazy that Gareth Edwards is now directing Godzilla.
LJ: Can you believe that trailer? It’s awesome; I’m so excited about it.
DC: Maybe you’ll end up going down the same path and wind up directing Mothra.
LJ: Yeah, exactly. I would be thrilled to follow in his footsteps.
DC: It’s probably a little bit of a heady question, but what really got me into horror and kept me coming back to the genre is the social commentary. Something like Alien, for example, coming after Roe v. Wade in the late ‘70s with a woman as the lead and a xenomorph that impregnates you; that film had some subtext about abortion.
DC: So, in Honeymoon are you saying something about the horrors of starting a family, or is there anything deeper going on that you’d like people to pick up on?
LJ: Well, listen, without getting too pretentious about it, for me, this is an intimate Body Snatchers movie. I think that if there’s some kind of social context to that, it just has to do with what the nature of identity is and how that’s changing in our society today.
DC: About getting too pretentious, a lot of directors say that sometimes, and I think it’s great to talk about if there really is an intention. I don’t think it necessarily turns anybody off.
LJ: Yeah, and I think it’s actually… if we want to get really pretentious, it’s this idea of the uncanny and how something extremely familiar can become unfamiliar and horrific. And I think that’s actually the center of the movie, and the relationship between Paul and Bea is how someone you think you know better than anyone else can become essentially a monster.
Written and directed by Janiak, the film stars Rose Leslie (“Game of Thrones”) and Harry Treadaway (Control).
Young newlyweds Paul and Bea travel to remote lake country for their honeymoon where the promise of private romance awaits them. Shortly after arriving, Paul finds Bea wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. As she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, Paul begins to suspect something more sinister than sleepwalking took place in the woods.
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