SXSW 2015: Producer Ross Dinerstein Talks The Diabolical and The Nightmare
Producing two films enjoying their premieres at SXSW this year, Ross Dinerstein is making a name for himself in genre film. With The Diabolical (review coming soon) and The Nightmare (review coming soon) having midnights at the festival, Dinerstein can add both films to previous projects The Divide and The Pact to his list of horror credentials.
Dinerstein took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk with us about The Diabolical, a new twist on ghost stories starring Ali Larter, and The Nightmare, Rodney Aschers follow up to Room 237 that centers around the terrors of sleep paralysis.
DC: Could you explain a little bit about both projects starting with The Diabolical? It’s kind of an out there concept.
RD: Sure. The Diabolical was written by Alistair Legrand and Luke Harvis and Alistair’s the director. It really came out of a general meeting I had with them and I was very impressed with Alistair’s commercial and music video reel and I asked, ‘Do you guys have any ideas?’ and they had this idea for a very interesting new twist and turn on a haunted house movie. We developed it over a couple of months and the third draft was a home down. We went out with Ali Larter in mind and offered it to her and she accepted it and it was sort of a match made in heaven. I’ve made a lot of haunted house movies and contained thrillers. The twist at the end of it not just being ghosts, I don’t want to spoil it any more than that, I just felt made this movie special. I felt that it was a non-derivative way to do a haunted house movie.
DC: There are similar set ups to a lot of films, a home invasion movie or a haunted house movie for example, but there needs to be a twist now to keep it fresh. As a producer, are you always looking for those ideas that turn the table on our usual expectations?
RD: Absolutely. I’m a fan, too and I see all those movies. As someone who’s made haunted house movies, I want them to be original and it’s a great subgenre but it has to be new and different. We’re trying to redefine genres.
DC: Because horror fans are so loyal and they go out and see everything, do you think that’s the main reason why horror movies are forced to try something different and be more experimental to keep them on their toes?
RD: Absolutely. I think horror fans are the most vocal and loyal fans of any genre and if you don’t surprise them and don’t keep them on their toes they’re going to let you know that. It’s also not interesting to me to make a movie that’s already been done. You want to make everything original, too.
The Diabolical was directed by Alistair Legrand in his feature film debut from a script he co-wrote with Luke Harvis. It was produced by Ross M. Dinerstein (The Pact, The Divide, Mr. Jones) and executive produced by Jamie Carmichael of Content Media and Kevin Iwashina of Preferred Content. The Diabolical marks the first film from Campfire, the new production company founded by Dinerstein and Content Media.
The film stars Ali Larter (Final Destination, Resident Evil: Extinction, “Heroes,” TNT’s “Legends”) as the divorced mother of two children who are awoken nightly in their quiet suburban home by an increasingly strange and threatening presence. She desperately seeks help from her scientist boyfriend, who begins a hunt to destroy the violent spirit that paranormal experts are too frightened to undertake. Arjun Gupta, Max Rose Chloe Perrin, Merrin Dungey and Patrick Fischler co-star.
DC: The Nightmare is also interesting because Rodney Ascher seems to be touching on a horror documentary which is a new subgenre for documentaries.
RD: We’re trying to create a new subgenre. I love hearing people say it’s the scariest documentary ever made. That is what we set out to do. We set out to make a very cool interesting Rodney Ascher film that scares people but also informs them. It’s one hundred percent non-fiction. All the people are real and we did no coaching whatsoever. We recorded them telling us our stories then shot recreations that were very loyal to their vision and what they saw.
DC: And Rodney has had his own experience with sleep paralysis, correct?
RD: Yes, and most people involved with the film have had some sort of sleep paralysis from the cinematographer to my assistant and some of the actors involved. Since I’ve been spending the last year and a half in the world of making this movie, I found out that sleep paralysis is much more common that I thought it was. We even ask how many people in the audience suffer from sleep paralysis, including Sundance, and I think more than half the audience at these screenings has had sleep paralysis.
Rodney Ascher’s (Room 277) new film, The Nightmare, has gotten a release date! Look for the film in North America in select theaters and on VOD on June 5 via Gravitas Ventures.
The Nightmare is a documentary-horror film exploring the phenomenon of sleep paralysis through the eyes of eight people. Victims of this scary malady often find themselves trapped between the sleeping and awake realms, unable to move but aware of their surroundings while subject to disturbing sights and sounds.