1428 Elm: So, you’re films are among my favorite type of horror or thriller, they are what I refer to as emotional horror. You have these nice character relationships, and as a viewer, you really care about the characters, it’s so much more effective to me than just putting some guy out there in a mask and a knife, slashing people up.
David: Thank you for that.
1428 Elm: No, I really love that kind of film. Do you think your friendship kind of helped you write that type of movie? Especially with the friendship between the two boys in The Boy Behind the Door?
David: Yeah, I would definitely say so. When we came up with The Boy Behind the Door, we really did want to explore the theme of friendship, the lengths you would go to save your best friend. But also, you know, what a story would look like with these two sort of underdog characters that are up against this seemingly impossible situation.
But, to respond to what you said earlier, those are the horror movies that Justin and I also respond to, the ones that do have strong emotional cores and characters you really care about, because if you don’t have that, you’re not gonna be scared when these characters are in danger, or in jeopardy. You have to have that bond or be able to relate to them on some human level. So it’s amazing to hear that you responded to that and picked up on that for both of us, because that’s our thing, an intention we want to sort of keep doing.
1428 Elm: The Boy Behind the Door was your first film together, right? Even though The Djinn was the first to release?
Justin: Well, it’s an interesting story, because basically, we had written The Boy Behind the Door over the course of a couple years, really dating back to 2015-2016, and we got it picked up before anything happened with The Djinn. In 2018, we were supposed to be a go with The Boy Behind the Door, and it got pushed for a variety of reasons.
We had decided that 2018 was going to be the year we made our first movie, so we had to kind of scramble to get all the resources that we had at our disposal at the time. We came up with The Djinn really quickly, putting the whole thing together, like from writing it to shooting it was like a month or something, it was insane.
We actually shot The Djinn first, so we had already cast, Ezra in The Boy Behind the Door, and that’s how we knew that he was so talented. We already had a cut of The Djinn when The Boy Behind the Door was green lit to go again, so we put that on hold and finished The Boy Behind the Door in its entirety from actually shooting it to finishing a variety of cuts and locking it in, and then we went back to The Djinn. So, technically we shot The Djinn first, but it’s a weird situation.
1428 Elm: Ezra Dewey is amazing in The Djinn! He impressed me so much, and I was a little disappointed in the beginning of The Boy Behind the Door at first. I was like, “oh, he’s not going to be the main kid!” But, Lonnie Chavis was so good too, how did you find these kids?
David: I mean, we really lucked out with such an amazing cast, especially the kids. We really can’t take any of the credit for it though, we had an amazing casting director, Amy Lippens, she’s so incredible and talented, she’s like the best cheerleader, and she’s so good at being collaborative. She really understood our vision, what we wanted these characters to embody. I have to say, that was one of the easiest parts. We knew we really needed strong, talented actors for these characters, since they had to carry the whole movie, so that was kind of a relief.
And yeah, Ezra and Lonnie are just super-talented, and they really are the movie.