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Selma Blair talks “In Their Skin,” horror and indie filmmaking

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A family alone in a house. A stranger comes knocking. Terror ensues. This describes the plot of many a horror movie, yet somehow the concept still feels terrifying in Jeremy Regimbal’s debut feature “In Their Skin.”

The film stars Selma Blair and Joshua Close, who also wrote the film, as a couple recovering from a tragedy that pushed them to take their son Brendon to their country home for some quality family time. But not long after they settle in do their neighbors — Bobby, Jane and their son Jared — come to visit. What starts off as an uncomfortable, forced dinner turns into the previously mentioned terror as the three people turn out not to be who they say they are.

IFC had the pleasure of speaking with Blair in a phone interview in anticipation of “In Their Skin’s” release. During our conversation, we touched on what makes this type of thriller so consistently scary and what her experience has been like in the independent film industry.

IFC: I had the pleasure of watching “In Their Skin” last night not really knowing anything about it going in, and it was a lot scarier than I expected. You’ve worked in horror films and thrillers before, but I was curious what in particular drew you to this project?

SELMA BLAIR: Josh is a friend of mine and he wrote it and he had Jeremy come on, who has a great eye, and I thought he made the film look beautiful. But it was just a little project and I support these projects and, before I had the baby, I had the luxury of getting to be a part of them. I think the first film for first-time writers and directors is quite crucial, and to get it out there and start careers and hope for the best and see what their vision is is really exciting for me.

And I like the family drama aspect. I mean, this isn’t like a big horror, gory movie. It’s more of a quiet, scary family drama, almost. It took its time, which you don’t see in films a lot. Really just letting you watch these people instead of just action, action, which I like. I think there’s not a lot of those movies anymore. It’s kind of poetic and took its time. I haven’t seen the final cut of it, but just the idea that you’re not safe in your own home and that you’re already dealing with sadness, it was a very scary idea.

IFC: In your opinion, what do you think makes this kind of movie where, like you said, you aren’t safe in your own home so consistently scary?

SB: There are so few of us that actually live so far off in the country alone now, that on its own is a big luxury, and you think, “Ah, I’m going to get away from it all and just be with my family.” But when there’s not a chance of that, and you don’t have alarm systems and you’re trying to be polite to your neighbors and just have people in your house quietly without thinking anything’s going to happen, yeah, it’s just scary. We’ve all had those nights with uncomfortable people and you wish they’d leave, and that’s just a pain in the butt, but when you wish they’d leave and they come back and try to take over your lives, that’s horrifying.

IFC: Have you ever been in a situation similar to that, or are you just speaking broadly?

SB: Yeah, no, no, god forbid, but it’s my biggest fear. Being at home with the baby and alone at night, I hear a noise and I just pray that I would have what it takes to protect my child and myself. It’s in my mind. It’s every grown-up’s fear.

IFC: When I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice that James D’Arcy was channeling a serious Norman Bates vibe, and then I realized that he’s playing Anthony Perkins, the actor who portrayed Bates, in the Anthony Hopkins “Hitchcock” movie.

SB: I know. Isn’t that perfect?

IFC: It really was.

SB: Yeah, to see him in the Madonna film [“W.E.”] and then to see him in in this and then Norman Bates, I can’t wait. But it’s so crazy to think that he’s British. I mean, he’s so versatile. But yes, I am excited to see him as Norman Bates.

IFC: Well I was curious if you knew if that vibe was intentional, because there sort of is a parallel in the characters.

SB: I don’t know what was going through his mind. I know he hadn’t booked the “Psycho” job yet, but maybe all creepy people are Norman Bates-ish. [laughs]

IFC: I guess so! You spoke earlier about how you support independent filmmaking and I actually just saw you in “Kingdom Come,” the Daniel Gillies documentary, talking about the same thing. Can you talk about some of the struggles and successes you’ve had in independent filmmaking over the years?

SB: I go back and forth. I make films like “Cruel Intentions” and “Legally Blonde” and “Hellboy,” which is a huge film, but then I make a ton of independent ones. They’re hard. You have the luxury of not having huge studios and huge dollars telling you what to do so you get to do what you want to do, but usually it is with first-time directors and people figuring it out and it’s a real labor of love. There are long days on set and everyone’s kind of learning.

The film business’s harder than ever right now. Getting people to go see movies, I just, I want filmmakers to be able to tell their stories. I worked with Todd Solandz, and he’s kind of like the indie king, and he jokes that each movie makes less than the last, and I’m like, god, if someone as amazing as Todd has those movies come out in fewer and fewer theater, oh my god, this is such a dying breed. Is it just going to be “Transformers” are the only movies that are going to be available for us — which are great and fun and I would love to be a part of that too — but it’s so scary to think that independent films are dying.

IFC: I know a lot of filmmakers are turning to VOD as a way to distribute, so do you think that could be the way of the future?

SB: I mean I think any way that people can see movies I’m all for, but I had one of the first movies that ever came out on iTunes, and that was Ed Burns’ “Purple Violets.” It never got a theatrical release, it just debuted on iTunes, the first movie to come out on iTunes, and it did okay, but you’re not going to make that huge money unless you’re out there and getting people to see movies in the theaters and really having that movie experience, so I don’t know about the Video On Demand and I don’t know how actors will ever make a living when it just goes straight to On Demand because I think the only people who get paid for that are producers, and I don’t even know how much that is. So great, I’m glad they’re available, but I don’t know how people are going to make a living.

“In Their Skin” comes out in select theaters on November 9.

What did you think of Blair’s thoughts on the independent filmmaking business? Do you agree with her about VOD? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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