The 1428 Elm interview: The rise of director Lee Cronin

Lee Cronin (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
Lee Cronin (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images) /
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Lee Cronin
Quibi’s horror anthology series: 50 States of Fright – 1 Washington: 13 Steps to Hell Photo: Courtesy of Quibi /

Enter Sam Raimi: 50 States of Fright

1428 Elm: We saw your 50 States of Fright episode, “13 Steps to Hell.” What we liked about it was how atmospheric it was. The way you shot the segment reminded us of horror films from the late 70’s and early 80’s. How did you get involved with Sam Raimi’s production? What about the story piqued your interest?

Lee Cronin: Another really good question and a really good observation because I am kind of heavily inspired by that late 70’s, early 80’s era.

Actually, I met Sam after my film premiered at Sundance. At that point, we tentatively were beginning the journey with Evil Dead.

We were having conversations about what it might be because he was a big fan of The Hole in the Ground. He and his television producer, Debbie Liebling were trying to talk me into doing 50 States.

I was a little unsure because I felt like I would be going back to doing shorts. When I read the script, I really enjoyed it. I guess what kind of chimed with me is it reminded me of my short film, Ghost Train.

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Which was about the scent of regret that you can sometimes have in life whether you are old or young. The regret manifests in spooks and things that come back to haunt you.

For me, there was something in the metaphor, what it was and what it was trying to achieve. Also, Sam’s enthusiasm for me to do something with him sooner rather than later was a journey to go on with Evil Dead and all these kinds of things.

So, it gave me an opportunity to step away from all of that for a moment and intensely make this piece of work. Also, I hadn’t directed anything I hadn’t written before.

I felt that it was a good way of examining what that process would be like. Everything I have directed today I have either written or co-written.

1428 Elm: Quibi’s format is very interesting. 15-minute episodes designed for smart devices. For horror, sometimes you need to have a buildup to the action. What was impressive about “13 Steps to Hell,” is it had a very psychologically driven storyline and was less dependent upon quick scares. Since you started off doing short films, did you find that you had more of a handle on the production process?

Lee Cronin: Every job is different. What I definitely liked was the psychological aspect beyond just the visceral. I wanted to make sure that the visuality was on par with the events, though.

Ideally, what you try to do when you are in genre, whether it is a horror movie, you’re trying to pull on all those different types of strings that you can. I love a jump scare, if it’s well timed and appropriate.

I also love getting inside the head of a character to interpret that grief that they are having. I think you can start to blend all of those together. That’s when you come out with something that people can really kind of engage with.