Neill Blomkampthe fourth feature film, Demonic, is finally out. Although it contains the science fiction elements, District 9 As the director is known, he is also taking a turn in horror territory. Senior Gaming Editor Michael Leri sat down with the Blomkamp to discuss how he came up with this two-pronged idea of making a movie during the COVID lockdown and what the Vatican has to do with it.
Michael Leri: Horror films are often more limited in scope because much of the heavy lifting is done in the viewer’s mind or in the dark. Had your will to make a horror film dealing with the inherently limited scope that filming would have during the COVID lockdowns?
Neill Blomkamp: Yes I think so. When I was trying to figure out what to do, I wanted to dust off the idea of making our own little horror film. It felt right. Because of budget constraints and everything else, you just scale up. It just feels more intimate.
You said “dust off”. Was that something you’ve been twirling around with for a while?
No. I thought of the idea of making a horror film on a budget at some point. But the story elements aren’t really. I had different story elements in my head such as volumetric capture. I wanted to do something with the Vatican in the 21st century way.
Technology doesn’t seem to mix with religious imagery very often outside of the two new Doom games. What about that worked for you and was it something you wanted to explore in Demonic?
Downfall is interesting in that sense. I’ve never thought about that before, but it’s true. That’s the closest thing I can think of. In all honesty, it was two separate ideas. I wanted to do something with volumetric sensing at some point. It wasn’t exactly a low budget horror film. It wasn’t even a movie. It could have been one of Oats Studio’s YouTube pieces. I knew I wanted to do that.
I also had this idea that the Vatican works in the 21st century. They have so much capital that, almost like the CIA, they could buy up corporations and buy things to advance their agenda. With this movie, it was like I could use those two elements, put them together, and see what happens. And that, of course, is the religious gathering technique.
One was a film technique and the other a conceptual idea. It resulted in a demon possessed person living in a virtual reality environment. This is how the story came about.
You previously said there was no way you would have done Demonic without COVID. Do you think you will want to make another horror movie sometime after the pandemic subsides?
Yeah, I would definitely do more horror films. I also think this doesn’t meet the requirements of a traditional horror film. For viewers hoping for pure horror, it may not give them what they want. But when it comes to horror, I’d love to do more in the genre. I actually love working with the genre.
When you look Raqqa, zygote, or Fire base von Oats, for me they were actually the first steps towards a more explicit science fiction horror. So in a way, Demonic is like the fourth of those. But it’s the first feature I did.
Making this film during the early lockdowns was likely a challenge. Did you enjoy this challenge or were the limitations frustrating? Sometimes creative people like some limitations.
No I do not think so. I would say I did everything I could not to make a “COVID film”. It was just the right environment to make a little paranormal activity movie because of COVID.
The part that is inadvisable is that when you are making a movie on a budget, dealing with the added cost of COVID is not really advisable. It was supposed to be a bigger studio film to suck up. Our mantra was “Dollars on screen”, so if the dollars are not on the screen, then they will not be shown on the screen. And when you have limited dollars, just chew around [the money].
But on the same sentence, you have no choice but to get the COVID options right. And the whole movie is the result of the rest of Hollywood taking a moment to judge things, and I wanted to shoot something.
I need to find out or research when the word “lockdown” came into effect. People keep saying “lockdown” or “quarantine” and I don’t know if those words existed back then. I’m serious. I don’t know if things were in lockdown. I do not know. But at least in Canada, when things were really locked down, this wouldn’t have been possible as there are actual rules. We just couldn’t have done it. For us, it was more like what the film industry does, like tests and masks and the way you get in and out of sets.
You’re working on an AAA multiplayer video game with Gunzilla as part of your new role there. Can you explain how you would like to tell a story in a multiplayer mode, a mode that is usually narrative free?
I can’t publish anything about that. I can’t talk about it. Gunzilla is very specific about when and where they talk about things. I’m excited to be working on a multiplayer shooter or any other game and being part of the design team. It’s cool. It’s another avenue of creativity that I really enjoy.