Exclusive: Director Steven C. Miller Talks Monsters and More for Under the Bed
Arriving in limited theatres July 19th and on Blu-ray/DVD July 30th is indie horror maverick Steven C. Miller's latest project, the super creepy and equally fun Under the Bed.
A modern horror fable for a new generation of creature lovers out there, Under the Bed, which is already available on VOD platforms everywhere, follows two brothers named Neal (Jonny Weston) and Paul (Gattlin Griffith), who are dealing with a monster lurking underneath their bed which comes out to terrorize them every night when the lights go out. Their parents aren't much help at all (of course), forcing Neal and Paul to defend themselves alone against the supernatural menace living beneath their bed.
Dread Central recently chatted with Miller about what inspired his kid-centric (but still fun for adults) horror project, more on the monster mythology we didn't get to see in Under the Bed, a tease of the always busy indie filmmaker's upcoming projects and much more.
Dread Central: Because you're a dad now, did that inform your decision at all to make a kid-friendly horror movie?
Steven C. Miller: In some ways it definitely did. I think the basic idea that Brad (Miska), Zak (Zeman) and I had was that no one these days was really making horror movies for kids; Joe Dante made The Hole recently, but other than that, there weren't any other movies being made for that audience. So the basic idea was, how far could we take a kid’s horror movie? I wanted to hearken back to movies like The Gate or Little Monsters or The Goonies, movies that were pretty frightening but were still meant for younger audiences. Ultimately, I just wanted to do a kid-friendly horror movie where we could still see some of the kids get their heads ripped off by monsters (laughs).
Dread Central: What's interesting to me is that many of your films involve people moving around a lot or settling into a new environment- is that a conscious choice at all on your part?
Steven C. Miller: Wow; I never really thought about it that way, but I think you're right! As a kid, we were always constantly moving, kind of like a military family does, so maybe subconsciously I put some of that into my films.
Dread Central: Well, let's talk a bit about Jonny and Gattlin, who played the heroes of Under the Bed; I thought they had some really nice moments together in this. How was it collaborating with them?
Steven C. Miller: They were both awesome; I think this may be my favorite core cast I've ever worked with. Gattlin's done some great minor roles so I knew he was going to be great, but when we got the two of them alone in a room together and just let them work together, it was perfect. If that relationship didn't work, Under the Bed wasn't going to work.
Because I grew up with brothers myself and we did everything together, I imagined that these brothers would be the same way. And that included taking on the monster. They would want to tackle this problem themselves because the adults in their lives don’t understand them at all. So we knew we needed two kids that could still act like kids but hold their own also in some of the more 'adult' situations they were put into.
Dread Central: I thought some of the mythology you and Eric (Stolze, writer) worked into the story was really interesting with the monsters, especially the bits about them feeding off dead skin cells. That's definitely something I haven't seen in a monster movie before and thought it was kind of cool.
Steven C. Miller: Oh thanks! I think some of the ideas for the monsters came from my nightmares, and Eric was really great at figuring out just how the monsters would transition in and out of our world and what would be the catalyst for that. That's where the dead skin cells idea came in. I watched one of the gross mattress commercials that would show you all of the crap stuck to your mattress and it was kind of crazy seeing how we sleep in millions and millions of dead skin cells on our bed and mattress and don't even realize it. Eric found a great way to use that as fuel for the monster, which I really thought was a nice twist and something you don't see being done too often in the movies.
Dread Central: It seems like you guys had a lot of ideas about this world going into Under the Bed; did you ever consider incorporating other monsters at all into this story? Is that something that you're maybe thinking about for a sequel- introducing us to more monsters?
Steven C. Miller: Oh for sure. A lot of what didn't make it into the movie ended up being cut from the story just because we didn't really have the budget to do more than one monster or spend too much time in that other world. I really thought about movies like Little Monsters or even Monsters Inc., where you get to follow them into that world and get introduced to more creatures, but that just wasn't going to happen for this. We have talked about maybe doing a sequel where we get to see more monsters, but that all depends on how Under the Bed does once it's released.
Dread Central: What's coming up next for you after Under the Bed's released?
Steven C. Miller: I've got two projects actually. The first one is a completely crazy action movie- like completely all action, no horror at all. The other project I'm working on is a thriller in the vein of Buried. It's about a group of kids riding in a limo who end up going off a cliff and get trapped inside the limo underwater and have to figure a way to get out alive. I think it's going to be really intense.
Under the Bed, the new horror/thriller from the producers of V/H/S and director Steven C. Miller (The Aggression Scale, Silent Night), stars Jonny Weston, the young star of Chasing Mavericks, and Gattlin Griffith (Green Lantern, Changeling). Written by Eric Stolze, the film also stars Peter Holden, Musetta Vander, and Kelcie Stranahan.
Every child knows about the monster under the bed—Neal Hausman’s mistake was trying to fight it. Neal (Jonny Weston) has returned from a two-year exile following his tragic attempt to defeat the monster, only to find his father ticking ever closer to a breakdown, a new stepmother who fears him, and his little brother, Paul (Gattlin Griffith), terrorized by the same monster. While Neal and Paul work together to try to fight the nocturnal menace, their parents are taking desperate measures to get the family back to normal. With no support from their parents, the brothers have nothing to rely on but each other and courage beyond belief.
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