We sat down with director Jed Hart to hear about terrifying Fright Bites short Night Cap, coming soon to All4 on October 22nd, just in time for Halloween.
So tell us about where the idea for this short came from – it feels like it has elements of child-in-peril films like The Shining, Poltergeist or The Babadook in the mix?
I think children are just very vulnerable both physically and mentally, so they make fascinating protagonists in horror films. I’m particularly interested in the psychology of horror, how real events or traumas can potentially impact the way you view the world and really heighten your fears. I wanted to try and present the film from the child’s perspective and really leave it quite ambiguous as to how much of this is happening and how much is in his head. Here Danny is clearly coping with troubles both real and imaginary, but whether the tyrant in this film is really with them in the flat, or whether Danny is struggling with the memory of him is left up to the viewer to decide.
The camera work is really nice – did you always imagine those roving tracking shots as an integral part of the short?
Yeah, I knew from the beginning I wanted the takes to be as long as possible. The film is all about Danny – so I literally wanted the camera to stick to him like glue and allow the audience to experience the events from his perspective. I always think these long takes add a real sense of immediacy because you aren’t compressing time. Everything feels in the moment and the viewer also experiences the location in a much more dynamic way. It was also quite an efficient way to tell our story considering we had one day to shoot it. To be honest, we took a bit of a risk by taking on a 4-minute take with a child actor, but I think Arthur did a fantastic job.
The film plays on a classic childhood fear of things that go bump in the night – why do you think that is such a scary idea?
What’s in your mind is almost always scarier than the reality, so I think anything that essentially provokes your imagination into a response without ever showing you something tangible that you can process and understand fully is going to create fear. I guess it’s a survival instinct kicking in – you stay alert until the danger is averted, but if you don’t quite know what that threat is, then you just can’t relax.
It’s all about that question of reality vs your imagination, and children of course have particularly untamed imaginations. Setting it at night just presents you with this huge cloak of darkness and shadow in which your mind can paint ghastly images. I also think there’s something quite scary in those first moments you wake up, especially if you awake suddenly from a dream or a nightmare. Sometimes it can take a while to get a grip on reality and understand where you’re at – and that’s frightening!
The six Fright Bites shorts will be available on All4 from 22nd October