What Makes A Great Horror Movie? by David F. Sandberg

Film Courage: What makes a great horror movie?

David F. Sandberg, Filmmaker: It depends on what kind of movie because the horror movies I’ve made have kind of been popcorn where it’s kind of dry which is very satisfying because you get this cheering when the right person dies or gets away and people are like laughing and then jumping.

In those movies it’s very much about the scares and sound is super important and timing because of lot of people don’t take their time for the creepiness and the scares because you can make anyone jump if you just have a loud sudden noise. But it’s that Hitchcock thing with the thing under the table and if something happens people are going to go Oh sh*t.

But if they know that it’s something that is going to happen and you are sitting there at the end of your seat. I think that is something that will work very well. On LIGHTS OUT (the short film) is that we start right off with a big scare (the thing just comes closer).

Now we’ve scared people and now people know what to expect and then that makes her hiding under the bed and hearing little things, that makes it much more effective because then you set the precedent.

But then there are horror movies that again are more art house like HEREDITARY and BLAIR WITCH that are about scares and really like staying with you. And again, I really think that sound is very important.

David Lynch…I mean he’s not a horror director but he’s made some of the scariest stuff out there. What I try to do is make it as bad for the characters as possible with this continuous sort of escalation of it getting worse and worse and worse. 

She runs into a bar and then she gets trapped in it and Oh no! And then there is a scarecrow and it starts to come alive and it’s like Oh no, this is even worse! Like a continuous escalation of just making it worse and worse for you. 

Film Courage: You are used to using things for DIY when you were making short films back in Sweden. What were some of those things you would use for sound effects that were inexpensive?

David: In our apartment we were blessed with…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).



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SAWGRASS on Youtube by Jack Peterson. Jack is an American filmmaker based in Chicago. He’s been featured in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and ABC News for his work as an activist. His first feature film, Sawgrass, is a psychedelic journey through Florida, featuring an extensive interview with the brother of the Las Vegas shooter. Sawgrass also features a performance by the Rock-afire Explosion, a vintage animatronic band created by famed inventor Aaron Fechter. Jack’s next feature film, My Perfect Everything, tells the story of a magician chasing an imaginary woman he met in 1989. My Perfect Everything is currently in the early stages of pre-production.