05th Dec2017

Horror-on-Sea 2018 Interview: Chris Moore talks ‘Blessed are the Children’

by Philip Rogers

Blessed are the Children is new thriller from co-writer and director Chris Moore, which has been selected to play at the Horror-on-Sea Film Festival on Friday 19th January. I got chance to ask Chris a few questions about his inspirations for making the film, his influences and what makes Blessed are the Children stand out in the horror genre.


What can we expect from the film?

I think you can expect a slasher film that’s fun, has something to say, and characters you actually care about. It’s one of the most important things in a horror film, but a lot of people seem fine with just throwing in a gaggle of busty 20-somethings and calling it a day. I want you to actually feel something when these people are terrorized. I never want you rooting for the killers. I usually come up with a story or concept first and then I start working on the characters before I even write a page of the script or really plot anything out. Once you know your characters, so much of the film is directed by them. As creepy as it sounds, they talk to me and say “no, I wouldn’t do/say that” and, sometimes, it can change a good chunk of my initial outline.

What was your inspiration for writing the film Blessed are the Children?

I was in Catholic school from 7th-12th grade and I remember going to my first pro-life assembly in 7th grade and wondering what the hell was going on. No one ever talked to me about abortion as a kid except one time when I saw some protestors holding up signs at a local clinic. They were disgusting pictures of dead fetuses and I remember my Mom being horrified by them as well. I think it was somewhere after that first pro-life assembly where I thought “what if someone was pro-life, but took it too far and started killing people who got abortions?” Most of my ideas start with that “what if?” I tucked it away for a good decade at least and brought it back out 2 years ago, because abortion was really big in the news and there had been cases of fanatics attacking doctors and women who had abortions. It seemed really scary and just the right time to finally sit down and write this thing.

What elements make Blessed are the Children stand out in the slasher genre?

I think it’s the characters. I’m really inspired by films like Black Christmas (1974) that had such well-rounded, interesting women at the heart of the story. That’s a movie that stays with you long after it’s over and I think it’s because you really do like the characters. They feel like real people. Also, while I was obviously influenced by the horror films of the 70’s and 80’s, I don’t think this feels like your typical modern “throwback” slasher. I see a lot of those and its usually code for “we’re going to have blood, boobs, and synth and that’s about it. Aren’t we retro?” We tried to have a little bit more going on in Blessed. I wanted it to feel like something evil just comes in and crashes, what could have been, a perfectly good dramedy.

The mask is an important aspect of a slasher film. Were the baby masks always your first choice for the antagonists?

Yes. They were written into the script from the get go, but we didn’t know exactly how they’d look. I wanted them to be kinda sad and creepy. I found some on eBay that I loved and bought a few of them and the rest is history.

What were your inspirations for the look and style of the film?

I’m a big Dario Argento, Mario Bava, and Lucio Fulci fan, so there are some elements of Italian horror thrown in. The black gloves on the killer and some of the murder set pieces definitely have that flavor. I also love the American giallo-style films like Alice Sweet Alice (1976), Night School (1981), and The Redeemer (1978). There’s certainly more than a dollop of John Carpenter (and Halloween (1978) especially). There are definitely a few nods to Alfred Hitchcock and Brian DePalma, especially Psycho (1960) and Dressed To Kill (1980). I’m proud of my influences and wear them on my sleeve.

Were there any elements of the original script which had to be adapted during filming?

You always have to adapt everything to the locations you get. That’s why I HATE writing chase sequences or big set pieces before I lock down a location. If you write that the character has to run upstairs, but the location you get doesn’t have stairs, you have to retool the entire sequence anyway. It’s just easier to write for a location. I remember the original script ending a bit differently. The way it turned out made it a bit more epic in scope, so I love the final film’s ending. I also remember that the middle section of the film was written and shot as 2 different days/nights, but was combined into one for the final cut of the film. The character of Ben originally had a trashy, redneck mother who tagged around and harassed the girls and she was killed off early on in the film. We ended up giving her material to Ben instead. It was just a bit too much and made things more complicated than they needed to be. The whole character of Ben kinda evolved in the editing room and we reshot his fate to come sooner than it originally did, which changed a bit of the mid part of the film. It seemed more satisfying to close that chapter of the film earlier. I want to say he played a big role in the finale in one of the first drafts of the script, but that changed as we went along, and I think it was for the better. Besides that, I think most of the film was fairly close to the script, besides a few scenes that we did shoot, but cut out for pacing issues. When your first cut is 2 1/2 hrs. from a 104-page script, you have to cut something.

What was one of your favorite scenes in the film?

I love all the scenes involving Erin and Stephen and their relationship. I just think it’s so sweet and funny. I always laugh at the kitchen scene between Erin and Mandy. Keni Bounds and Arian Thigpen had such great chemistry together and it plays beautifully –  that entire sequence, too, once Kaley Ball and Jordan Boyd join them. The scenes between Traci and John really hit home, because they’re based on a “relationship” I had a few years back where I was in Traci’s position and it really hurt. I swear, most of the dialogue is verbatim of what was actually said during that time in my life. It was so strange to see 2 different people recreate that. Now, watching those scenes is sorta therapeutic. It’s weird that none of my favorite scenes in this are the horror scenes, but there’s one scary scene in an elevator that I really like, because I feel like it turned out really well and we had so much fun shooting it. We were all laughing so hard. A lot of people find it hard to believe, but usually the darker or scarier the scene, the more you laugh on set.

Do you have any new projects which you are working on?

I do. I just recently wrapped a new film called Triggered. It stars Amanda Wyss from A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982). It’s a dark comedy about political correctness and how it can go too far and potentially become deadly. There’s a young lady who fakes an attack by a big serial killer for a little attention and the killer gets mad and comes after her. It’s like as if Heathers (1988), Eating Raoul (1982), Serial Mom (1994), To Die For (1995), and Scream (1996) had a baby. I think it’s going to be incredibly fun and hilarious. It’s a pretty big departure from Blessed are the Children and I’m excited about that. I like to try new things. At the moment, I’m wanting my next film to be either a modern fairy tale or a supernatural story of some sort. Besides that, I love acting, so I’m sure I’ll be in a few more shows or movies before the cameras start rolling on my next film.

If someone is looking to direct their first film, what advice would you give them?

Just make it. Stop waiting for someone to tell you that you can. And DEFINITELY stop waiting for people to give you money to do it. I have classmates from film school who, I think, are still waiting for someone to hand them 5 million to make a movie. It’s just not going to happen, especially if you have nothing to prove that you can do it. It’s much more impressive to use the resources that you have, write a terrific script, cast your friends, and shoot it on the weekends (even if it’s shot on an iPhone). People will be really impressed if you can make something out of nothing. I have people I know who keep waiting around for everything to be perfect before they make a movie. The trick is – if you have a great script and a great cast, 95% of the work is done for you already. Just get out there and do it, flaws and all.

Blessed are the Children will be playing at the Horror-on-Sea Festival on Friday 19th January at 5:30pm.

For more information on the event and to purchase tickets for the Horror-on-Sea please see the website for details: https://www.horror-on-sea.com


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