Icons of Fright Interview With GIRL HOUSE Director Trevor Matthews

girlhouse-posterDirector Trevor Matthews might be one up and coming force to reckoned with when it comes to the horror genre. Having played the stressed out and pissed off title character in 2007’s JACK BROOKS: MONSTER SLAYER, Matthews has now unleashed his first feature directorial debut, the very entertaining (and VERY SCARY) GIRL HOUSE (out now in limited theaters and VOD). Part examination of how childhood bullying and trauma can lead someone to commit horrific acts and part straight HALLOWEEN-like slasher film, GIRL HOUSE doesn’t pull a single punch when it comes to giving horror fans a visceral punch to the face, and it’s impossible to forget once it’s over. We had a chat with Matthews recently about the film, and it was quite fun to do. Read on!


Trevor: Hey, how’s it going man?

Icons: Great! First off, GIRL HOUSE completely caught me off guard. Obviously we all watch TONS of horror films and get used to certain tropes and kinds of them, but man, your movie knocked my ass out. I loved it. 

(Laughs)

I’m curious how this all came together, because it’s such an interesting take on the slasher film subgenre.

Well, I was on post-production on a previous film called THE SHRINE. We moved out to Los Angeles to try to sale THE SHRINE and try to get that film to reach a larger audience. The goal was to setup other projects here as well and GIRL HOUSE was kind of the first project that we were able to get off the ground. I think as a producer, you have to have a lot irons in the fire and you have to try to hustle to get projects made.

Yeah, that’s definitely a big part of it.

It’s always pitching and it’s always the next idea and the next idea. GIRL HOUSE was one of those projects that when it came out, it was like “Stop everything else we’re doing, let’s focus on this one”. It was something we could do, it was in our wheelhouse, and it was just a GOOD idea. This idea of threat of identity in the internet today and the world of pornography, I had never seen it explored in the horror genre like this before.

I agree, it felt very original and fresh to me. 

Even as a business idea, the thought of a Girl House website was kind of a cool idea. We were all pretty stoked on it, so we commission a writer named, a guy name Nick Gordon to kind of pen the first screenplay, and what really helps as any producer or director in the film business can attest to, it could be a good idea in your head, but when it comes back in 100 pages, it has to be good. It’s just such a commitment to make a movie, that if the screenplay isn’t good, you find yourself always questioning if it was worth it, you know?

Yeah, why bother if it’s not right?

Exactly. The great part was that when the script came back, it was riveting. There were really great female characters, it was fun and it had the technology. The house and that technology was almost a character in the script. When you really like the script, that’s typically the first big step into doing it, and it’s all hands on deck and “Let’s go do this!”.

What I found very interesting is that the film could have worked just with it dissecting the world of pornography and the webcam elements, but with the slasher elements added, I really don’t think I’ve been on the edge of my seat with a film within that subgenre since HALLOWEEN, the character of Lover Boy scared the living hell out of me!

That’s awesome man.

I watched it while someone was over and I kept telling them “THIS is how the remake of HALLOWEEN should have been, this is fucking terrifying”. Was that an important element, to kind of put those different approaches into one premise?

Oh, totally. We definitely to have this slow-burn approach and have kind of this audience hesitation of the character of Kylie getting involved in this world. You knew she was somewhat of a damaged girl and you knew that she needed money, so she was kind of treading into this world, cautiously. We then opened the floodgates and said, “This is Girl House, it’s a crazy place, it’s fun, you’re always naked and online, what’s the big deal? It’s not being a prostitute, or stripping, it’s just being yourself and you’re doing things you’d probably be doing anyways, just in front of cameras…and guess what?, the money is great!”. The problem IS that you’re opening up your identity to a whole internet of people, and not everyone is a nice person. We wanted to kind of show the ultimate cautionary tale of being too liberal with your identity. I think that’s becoming a phobia in today’s day and age, and obviously, this is the way it all came together and I’m proud of the film. I love independent filmmaking and yeah, this is not the studio film and not the typical Hollywood horror film, it’s truly an independent film and a culmination of all of the lessons me and my partners grew up learning with making films.

The film is almost subtle in the buildup, with “Wait, did I just see that guy standing behind her?”, and it gets under your skin before just brutalizing you. Even the killer’s mask itself feels very fresh and unlike anything I’ve seen lately, so I’m curious about what your vision was with the tone and the design of the killer during the early stages. 

In my experience, it never turns out exactly how I thought. Some things turn out even better in the screenplay and sometimes things turn out just a little differently that you thought they’d be. You need to adapt and move on set, in order to get something in the moment that not only works, but is also going to be the best for the final product. As far as the Lover Boy character, we were really lucky to get Slaine, who is a South Boston rapper. He’s done some great work, and you don’t really see him when he’s in the mask, but his performance outside of the mask is I think, one of the best performances in the film. To actually see audience members when they’re watching this guy actually feel bad for him, when they’re making fun of him. I heard people in the audience go, “Oh, poor Lover Boy”, because he’s actually crying when these girls are making fun of him a lot. To sympathize with the guy right before he’s able to break into that house and butcher those people, was pretty cool and that’s all because of Slaine’s performance. So in that way, we got way more out of the character than expected. He was kind of your typical slasher in the screenplay, and I just thought the look of it was scary. He wears a woman’s mask with a wig, but he wears a carpenter’s outfit, and I think in his head, he was going to blend in with the other girls. He thought that nobody was notice him so that’s why he wore that.

The film has a very finite ending, but with that being said, would you ever have the interest in making another GIRL HOUSE film?

It really just comes down to the performance of the first film and how it does, but I would totally love to do another GIRL HOUSE film, because the premise is interesting and even thought we’re not currently in development on one, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. I love the horror genre and we’re always looking for new projects to make.

 

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