Mary: While we’re on The Babadook, I have to mention this very recent new Australian horror movie directed by Natalie Erika James, which is Relic, which I think is fantastic. I loved The Babadook as well, and this is very in that tradition, in this case a mother, daughter and grandmother, and it’s about dementia. It’s all in one house, and it’s such an amazing film. It’s so well-acted and so beautifully done, and like The Babadook, it’s a first-time film. It’s such a common experience in terms of dementia, just like birth is common, problems with motherhood are common, as in The Babadook. A lot of times these films directed by women are taking these things and exploring them in a beautiful and poetic way.
1428 Elm: Yes, I’m a big fan of what I call “emotional horror.” It draws you in emotionally and makes you feel things besides fear, so I absolutely understand what you are saying. Mary, you have a reputation as a somewhat feminist-leaning filmmaker. For example, I Shot Andy Warhol and Charlie Says…well, Charlie Says kind of tells the Charles Manson story from a female perspective, which is very interesting. Do you seek out films with this perspective or do they sort of find you?
Mary: I think they find me and obviously, I will bring whatever perspective I have to whatever the material is. It’s just kind of natural that that’s how I see things, that I’m interested in the women characters. In Charlie Says, I was just much more interested in…because to me, Charlie’s crazy, and that’s why he does what he does. The question to me was, “Why did the Manson girls do what they did?” I always feel it’s less explored, you know, there aren’t that many films that really explore the women’s point of view, or the female consciousness, you know, in serious films or horror films. Like, in terms of horror films, that’s why I think Rosemary’s Baby and Repulsion had such a big affect on me when I was growing up, because they’re both coming from inside this woman’s consciousness. There’s just not a lot of that around.
1428 Elm: Yeah, Rosemary’s Baby holds up really well too, even today. You can watch it now and it’s just as horrifying and relevant as it was when it was first released.
Mary: (Laughs) I have to say, this is my sense of humor: when I was pregnant, I made my husband watch it.