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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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

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

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.