Tuesday 11 December 2018

Interview with Johan Bodell

When filmmaker Johan Bodell looks at his back catalogue, he realizes there’s a bit of a common thread : the element of blood. The Swedish filmmaker talks up his latest spookfest The Cabin.

Would say this is a genre you’d normally gravitate towards, Johan?

I would say no at first, but when I look at what I’ve done previously a lot of the films have its fair amount of blood as well, just like The Cabin. My ambition isn’t to lock me into any genre. I want to be just like Spielberg. One day making a film about the Holocaust, and then an adventure film like Jurrasic Park.
The main reason this became a horror film was the location we decided to build the story around. I have a lot of concepts and ideas for films I would like to make sometime in the future, some of them horror, some of them historical dramas and adventure films.

Have any films or filmmakers from your youth -heck, even now – influenced this one? How so?

The main influence for this film would have to be The Shining. There’s something about the tone in that really hit me. That’s the only reference I gave to both Charles Doan (DP) and Matt Donner (composer). Before we even started to shoot, Matt gave me a minute-long draft of the soundtrack for The Cabin. That was really helpful to get me in the mood before start shooting and remind myself of the overall tone of the film.
Also, Denis Villeneuve is a huge inspiration, there something in the tone of Prisoners and Arrival that I gravitate towards.

When I was around 13-14, the Swedish public television had a thing where they showed classical horror films every Tuesday during the summer. I didn’t miss any of them. Often recorded them on VHS to re-watch it again and again. Halloween and Poltergeist are two films I watched a lot at the time.

We know you have a love of comic book films but growing up, did you have a favorite or go-to scary movie?

My go-to scary movie growing up wasn’t really a movie, but rather the X-files. When I was 8-9 I was allowed to stay up late on Thursdays when it aired in Sweden. I was so scared but watched it every week. That and some Swedish crime shows are some of the scary memories that I can think of.

This movie is a bit of a mixed-genre movie – was that part of the appeal for you?

As I mentioned earlier I don’t want to go to hard into any genre. I believe that even in a horror there’s a layer of drama to make the characters relatable. I think that’s a healthy approach to whatever genre you’re working in. I would like to include elements of horror in a comedy or drama.

CGI or practical effects. Preference?

Practical as long as it’s possible. I think the best effects is where you have physical objects and sets, and use CGI to expand that world. Instead of making it all CGI, which can feel unnatural. We didn’t use that many effects in The Cabin, but where we used it we did it to enhance the reality with some extra blood splatter.

Are any of the characters in the film based on yourself?

I didn’t think so at first, but then Erik (screenwriter) told me that some of the main characters dynamic are based on us. He got some of that inspiration from the trip we first took together to the location in the middle of the winter so he would get an understanding and feeling of the location. I wandered in the snow all exciting while he was a bit more restricted like Rose.

The Cabin is now available on VOD.