‘Barbarian’ and ‘Smile’: How two new horror directors delivered the best scares of the year

Zak, you said Barbaric was an exercise in getting into the mindset of a kind of anxiety you’re unfamiliar with, like a woman recognizing when a situation is dangerous, which feels like her own challenge.

Cregger: I read a book 10 years ago that I think about all the time. It’s called The gift of fear. [And it says that] every situation in which you interact with strangers has a context. It is a different context for each participant. It was just like a breeding ground for tension and a way to get into a scene. I didn’t sit down to write a movie, I sat down to write a scene just for fun and as I went along, not knowing what was going to happen, I allowed him to do whatever he wanted do and Barbaric came out of that. For me, the best thing I can do for writing is just try to be a little kid with crayons. To be as free and as playful and as fun. Obviously a lot of dark bullshit is going to come out of this because, like Parker, I’m fascinated by the worst things. My favorite art is pretty dark shit, so that’s what I consider fun.

Finnish: Is there a character in your film who [you identify with]?

Cregger: The three characters are me. The mother isn’t, but Tess is me, really, because to me she’s the child of an alcoholic, which I am, so her whole form is about “What the does anyone I’m with need?” That’s the problem with people like me, my siblings, other children of alcoholics – whatever relationship dynamics we find ourselves in, we want to take whatever form the other person likes most. , which is why Tess’ whole problem is that she keeps coming back for these men and becoming whatever they want her to become. The literal extreme is infantilization, which is why of course she’s going to drink from a bottle. His arc is to separate himself from the infantilizer. Pulling the trigger at the end is me wishing I could draw healthy boundaries in my personal life. And then AJ, yeah, he’s a despicable rapist, and I can honestly say that I [am not that], but who among us has not had bad inclinations? There are aspects of my personality that are narcissistic and shitty. And Keith, the way he behaves around the house, the overexplaining and the need to be like ‘I saw you didn’t drink your tea so I thought I’d wait [to open this wine]’, every woman watching this is like, ‘What a fucking creep! I probably would have said all that bullshit. I would certainly have talked too much and tried to make a woman too comfortable and in doing so would have made things worse.

Finnish: It’s amazing, too, how people, based on life experiences, view this scene. Obviously Tess is our focus, but you can also feel like you’re on the other side like, ‘God, I’m trying so hard not to be awkward or scare this other person and I’m only getting worse things every time. attempt.” I feel that way so much.

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