This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Ti West Gives Horror a Good Name

Ti West Gives Horror a Good Name  (photo)

Posted by on

With mainstream horror now defined by cruddy PG-13 originals and even cruddier remakes, Ti West’s “The House of the Devil” couldn’t have arrived at a better time. An unpredictable saga of teenage boredom and Satanic cults in which a college student makes the mistake of taking a babysitting gig at Tom Noonan’s titular residence, West’s third film (after “The Roost” and “Trigger Man”) assumes the guise of an ’80s genre flick — from its title credits to its hair styles — without ever treating those trappings as jokes. More faux-relic than cheeky homage, the film confirms West’s status as a distinctive indie auteur, with his preference for long, languorous takes and his sincere interest in human behavior lending his horror show a uniquely ominous chill. While in Manhattan, he sat down with me to discuss the sorry state of contemporary horror, his unpleasant experiences making the still-unreleased “Cabin Fever 2” and the insanity of test screenings.

Given how many lousy horror remakes have come out lately, did you have any concerns about making such a deliberate ’80s throwback?

No. Now that you say it, I can understand maybe being more concerned than I was at the time. I came up with the idea back in 2005. Right now, would I be doing it? Probably not. But as much as I get credit for it being an homage, that wasn’t really my plan as much as it was a period piece. Not to say there aren’t freeze frames, or the copyright image under the title, or zooms and things like that. But when I put everyone in the period setting, that’s just what happened. As I started fooling with it, it just became clear that this style looked best for the movie. I tried to be authentic to the period. It just happens that this ’70s-’80s retro thing is in vogue. It’s a happy, or unhappy, accident, depending on how you look at it.

Your use of drawn-out character-building scenes and general avoidance of jolt scares, gore and T&A seemed to me like a rebuke to modern horror. Was that what you were going for?

No, there was nothing reactionary. It’s partially my style, it’s old fashioned, and this movie has a classic three-act horror structure. It wasn’t because there are movies like “Saw,” and I wanted to throw it in their face and go the other way. I just don’t particularly like those kind of movies, and I don’t make them. And maybe right now, there are so many bad movies out there that it helps highlight something different.

Did you feel any pressure from outside voices to conform to modern genre conventions?

No, thankfully not. There was a situation right before the premiere at Tribeca where outside forces got involved and said that it’d be more successful if it were a little shorter in the middle. I think there were just some cold feet: “We like this movie, but whew, we hope we’re not the only people who like it.” And I felt like, no, no, it’s going to be fine. But other than that one spat, everyone was very supportive and understood the movie we made. Probably partially due to my complaints, Magnolia swooped in and everyone agreed to revert the film back to the way it was. Other than that, it was easy.

The sequence in question is the one where Donahue’s protagonist dances around the mansion, right?

Before that. There’s a three-and-a-half-minute minute chunk where she explores the house. For me, it was important because she plays the straight character throughout much of the movie, and that’s kind of a bummer for an actor, because she doesn’t get to be as behavioral as some of the other people. So there’s this section where she could wander the house, snoop through their drawers, all these things that gave away tiny foreshadowing plot elements. And you see her play “Heart and Soul” on the piano, these lighthearted moments where the character didn’t have any responsibility except to be herself.

10272009_hotd6.jpgThat’s part of the reason I made the movie — the weird things you start doing when you’re alone in someone’s house, like snooping through drawers. And part of its style is to fool people with all the conventions. So, she walks into a room and you think, “Oh my god, something’s going to jump out!”, and then she talks to a fish and leaves. It takes you out of your comfort zone. I wanted to make everyone who knows horror movies go, “I don’t know where the next thing’s coming from.” Jump scares are cheesy, but I think the few of them in the movie are very successful because they’re spaced out appropriately and they come out of nowhere. You get kind of entranced by the lulling style, so that when something extreme happens, it’s more effective. That contrast is really important to me.

That contrast seems particularly important to “HoTD,” considering that modern horror films telegraph everything.

[With today’s horror films], there’s never a moment where nothing’s happening, so it gets to be almost like porn, just one money shot after another. And you begin to feel like, if there was just some story present, I’d be more inclined to give a shit. That contrast is what makes any art accessible.

I’ve seen a lot of dead people. I’m not a good person to hang out with, because people have died on the subway with me. I’ve been on a train that hit someone. One time I was at a horse gambling establishment and the guy a couple seats down just died. And what always amazed me was, everyone’s there betting on horses, having a great time, and no one knew. Once we realized what had happened, the whole tone shifted. If you were the girl in “HoTD” who got involved in a Satanic plot, before it happened you were just hanging out, doing your homework. Whenever you see real death or real horror, it’s not cinematic in any way. It’s clumsy and awkward, and that’s what you wind up feeling jarred by, because it’s not what you were expecting.

Watch More

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

Watch More

Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

Watch More

G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

Watch More