The Diabolical is the new haunted house, horror-thriller from first time film director Alistair Legrand. The movie surrounds supernatural and horrific events that take place in the home of a single mother played by Ali Larter. As the main character Madison and her two children are terrorized by what appear to be evil spirits, things begin to occur that reveal what is truly going on behind the scenes and what is really causing these nightmarish hauntings. We spoke with Alistair Legrand about directing the film and what inspired The Diabolical.
When a single mother (Ali Larter) and her two young children are tormented by an increasingly strange and intense presence in their quiet suburban home, she turns to her scientist boyfriend to take on the violent forces that paranormal experts are too frightened to face.
How did you get involved with this project?
Alistair Legrand: I had written other scripts and I went to this company called Preferred and they asked me if I had any haunted house ideas and The Diabolical was something I’d wanted to do for a really long time. I pitched it to them and we were off to the races. I wrote it with my writing partner pretty quickly and we wound up shooting it February 2014 and we got it done.
How was the writing process?
AL: It was really fun and complicated because we were trying to kind of trying to comment on the genre itself. We were trying to make sure everything you see in a ghost movie makes sense in a scientific way at least to us. We wanted to combine it with a bit more of a futuristic background because we thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if this were caused by an experiment instead of an actual dead person.” So we started writing the script wanting to tell this personal story about this family and then make sure it made sense in a science fiction way.
Was it easy directing your cast in the film?
AL: It was fantastic. Ali got on board once I met with her and started talking through the script with her and she was coming at the script from a very real place. She’s a mother herself and that how she really identified with it. Once she got on board and started working with the child actors it worked out really well. These two kids came in and they were very natural and that’s why we picked them. I worked at a kid’s camp so it was just pretty natural for me to lead them on to the set and show them what’s going on and show them the monsters so they don’t get too scared, and just try to make a nice and warm environment for them to work in.
Do you prefer practical effects when it comes to monsters?
AL: For sure. I’m a huge fan of the genre. We all love practical effects and want something on set for the actors to react too in a real way. It just helps performance for the other actors and it just looks better. Subconsciously as an audience member you know whether you’re watching Avatar or An American Werewolf in London and it just clicks. Something inside of you just knows whether or not what you’re watching on screen is real. It just helps bring you into the story a lot easier. When we had our practical effects on set it just felt better and made everything cooler and like we were making a real movie. We had a few visual effects to enhance the more futuristic parts of our story, but it definitely worked out.
Are there any influences that inspire you as a director?
AL: When the french extremism movement was hitting with High Tension and Inside and all those films, those have always been a huge influence on me. Just as a director growing up, Tim Burton was always my biggest hero. After watching Batman Returns as a 9 year-old, I realized there was someone behind the camera trying to tell this story. Right now The Diabolical is mainly influenced by Contact and The Entity.
Will you continue to write and direct horror films?
AL: I love making movies and trying to tell entertaining and terrifying stories for audiences. I love being on set and working with my cinematographer and just trying to tell something that’s awesome to look at and exciting to hear. I really hope audiences enjoy the film and I hope it creates interesting disccussions.
Check out The Diabolical in select theaters and on VOD and iTunes now.