When I went to the trailer reveal there was a lot of talk about shooting on location at Linda Vista community hospital. Why did that location mean so much to the production?
I just love that location. It feels like its haunted when you’re in there, so it definitely is inspiring to make a scary movie in there. But it feels—without any filming or any set dressing--super spooky. So I think that’s why we talked about it a lot. It’s a very haunted place.
And you guys were one of the last crews that shot there, right?
I think it’s done for filming. I think they are tearing it down.
I heard it’s going to become low-income housing or something, which is even creepier frankly.
Jesus, I hope they do a good remodel.
Between this, Paranormal Activity, and possible sequels for Sinister and The Purge, you're quickly becoming a major driving force in where the genres going. Where would you like to see horror develop?
Um, I don’t have a specific (plan). Really what we look for in all the movies you just mentioned and all the movies going forward is a great story that feels original that has scary stuff in it. It’s not like we look for like—I never say, “Well what are the scares, we’ll worry about the story later.” I always say, “Well, let’s figure out what the story is.” Like the story in Sinister is about a guy choosing his career over his family, and struggling with that, right? Or the story in Insidious is about losing your kid, and how that shakes things up. Or the story in The Purge is about this normal family is stirred up by this beginning violent event. So really my favorite thing about the movies we make, and the movie’s we’ll continue to make is that we look for grounded, real-feeling, compelling stories. I had this conversation with Ethan (Hawke), who never like horror movies until I talked him into doing Sinister and now he has grown to at least understand them more. He didn’t like them because he doesn’t like being scared, and he was worried about being scared on set.
The sets of horror movies are not scary, you know. And he didn’t realize that, and then when he was like, “Oh this is fine,” we did The Purge later. Which is why we did that because he liked it. We always say, what I’m doing now—more in terms of pointing back instead of looking forward to answer your question—so much of the independent film that he and I are in the generation that we came up in of the 90s (industry) and I worked at Miramax at that time, has moved to TV. That dramatic work is really now on television. But there’s a part of these movies that are like the independent cinema of the 2010s. You know what I mean?
We’re really making independent movies—and they are made completely independently. And they are even independent movie stories, they are just tucked into genre. You know, Sinister is an independent movie about a guy choosing his career over his family, but it’s in a genre movie. The Purge is the same thing. Insidious is the same thing. Paranormal Activity is the same thing. They’re dramas, but they have set in them in the space of genre movies. There’s a million different stories we can tell, but that’s what I hope to continue to do.