Director Steven C. Miller‘s Under the Bed hits VOD tomorrow, July 3rd (with a theatrical bow set for July 19th). To that end, I recently spoke with Miller about crafting a slow-burn suspense tale that aims to serve gorehounds… as well as the inner child.
In the film, “Every child knows about the monster under the bed—Neal Hausman’s mistake was trying to fight it. Neal (Jonny Weston, Chasing Mavericks) 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, Green Lantern, Changeling), terrorized by the same monster. While Neal and Paul work together to try and 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.” Jonny Weston, Gattlin Griffith, Peter Holden, Musetta Vander and Kelcie Stranahan star. The film was penned by Eric Stolze who wrote the upcoming Late Phases.
What were your initial impressions when you first got the script? You’d mentioned a desire to infuse it with some Amblin sensibilities.
Yeah, definitely. After talking with (producers) Brad [Miska] and Zak [Zeman] and Eric Stolze (screenwriter), it immediately felt right. So I definitely wanted to have something that harkened back to those movies like E.T. and Goonies, but just have a little bit more of an edge.
It’s kind of a slow burn, how do you keep the audience engaged?
I think the thing that I’ve learned studying and watching those movies is when to move the camera and when not to move the camera. Really trying to make sure everything was pretty steady, so the camera work is slow and deliberate. When we do move the camera, it’s for a purpose. One of the big things for me is keeping the audience engaged. The use of colors, the chemistry between the brothers – they had to be good. And I think they were able to do that. We shot this movie for pennies but it looks great!
You’ve got this great creature design, is it hard to hold off on showing it for that long?
Yeah. It was really hard. You want to give the audience the full effect and really let them have it so they don’t feel cheated. You think about movies like Jaws where you waited a while, even if it wasn’t intentional at the time, it just builds it up in the mind of the audience. When we finally do show it – I think it’s strong enough that the audience doesn’t feel cheated. I think it’s more than they expect sometimes!
You’ve got this whole other world that exists under that bed, how was it constructing that on a budget?
We were lucky enough to spend most of our money on building the interior of the house. Having done that, I could just take the interior and turn it upside down and re-dress it using bedsheets. So the under the bed world is an upside down, f*cked up version of the house. We used everything we had already shot and just flipped it upside down.
Any updates you can give on Terminus?
Yeah, we’re fielding a few offers as far as our financiers to get things locked and loaded. It’s totally in the action world, and I’m really excited about that.