1428 Elm chatted with The Girl on the Woods director Jacob Chase as part of our coverage of the new Peacock and Crypt TV supernatural drama. The series follows Carrie, a teen tasked with guarding a mysterious door that banishes monsters from our world. But when she escapes the strange cult-like colony, it will be up to Carrie and her new friends to save the world.
This show is Chase’s first directorial project on a television series. He directed the last four episodes, 4-8, while Krysten Ritter did the first half of the season. Previously, Chase lent his directing talents to the horror film Come Play and The Four-Faced Liar, which received the HBO Audience Award for Best First Feature at Outfest.
We chatted with The Girl in the Woods director Chase about balancing the human element with the horror, his love of the genre, and more.
The Girl in the Woods: Jacob Chase talks about working with monsters and practical effects
JACOB: One of the things I was excited about was getting to work with all of these practical effects, having just done that on my last film. It’s something important to me, and so it was meaningful that when I got asked to do the last four episodes, they were also super excited about practical effects, so it wasn’t something I had to fight for or anything. It was wonderful to work with these creature performers and contortionists to craft these unique monster characters.
On balancing the horror and teen drama of The Girl in the Woods
JACOB: I think the best horror needs great human elements at the center of it. It’s hard to care that someone is in a nightmarish scenario if you don’t care about them in the first place. I loved, in these scripts, how much time was given to setting up these characters. The cast is so wonderful, as is the writing. I think it all blends together in a seamless way. The scripts made me laugh on the page, and I think it’s important to have that on any movie or TV show, so the horror really lands.
You’re definitely juggling a lot of things because you want to care about the characters, but you also want to build suspense and atmosphere and a mood. It’s kind of like a magic trick, which is what I equate it to, which is like you’re constantly juggling that misdirection in the performance, in the scene, and the edits, so that you can flip the script on an audience and a character and hope they don’t see the big twists and turns coming.
What horror films inspire Jacob Chase?
JACOB: I’m just a big fan of movies in general, so I love all sorts of horror movies, but the things that inspire me are like The Ring, both the original and the American remake, are incredible, the original The Fly as well as the David Cronenberg remake.
The original The Fly was a movie I was shown when I was probably too young to have seen it, and it terrified me. It scarred me, but it made me feel like this is what movies can do. I love all sorts of horror films, especially ones with a lot of heart to them. I think The Conjuring does that well in making you care about these characters and having an uplifting heart to it.
Urban legends and the things that scared Jacob Chase when he was a kid
JACOB: I think I grew in a suburban area that didn’t have a lot of woods, unfortunately. I’ve always been scared by the woods because I didn’t grow up around it, whether it’s bugs and things or being worried about weird spirits and supernatural occurrences, I will say that the things that scared me growing up, I used to create this haunted house, I did it for years as a kid in high school and then I did it for years as an adult.
But whether I was a kid or an adult, it was always terrifying walking through it alone at night without the lights on in the haunted house I created. That’s a specific memory I have of walking through our set-pieces at night in the dark and feeling that, you know, the hair standing up on the back of your neck and the goosebumps, or that someone is following or watching you.
What is he most excited for fans to see in The Girl in the Woods?
JACOB: The horror and the monsters are awesome, but for me, I’m most proud of what I think is so exciting about the show is these real characters, specifically the characters in the LGBTQ community. I love that it is a show that really speaks to that community without feeling like it’s pandering. It just feels like it’s part of who these kids are.
Having a lot of young cousins in this generation, it’s not the big taboo that it used to be, and I think we treat this gender identity storyline with such respect and heart. It’s something I really enjoy being a part of and feel honored that I was asked to direct these last four episodes.
All eight episodes of The Girl in the Woods Season 1 are now streaming on Peacock.