Interview: "Resolution" Filmmakers Talk Their Ambitious, Funny, & Cerebral DIY Horror Film

Interview: "Resolution" Filmmakers Talk Their Ambitious, Funny, & Cerebral DIY Horror Film
Justin, the catalyst was Peter coming to you that idea to do it as a contained thriller?
Benson: There were so many things, actually. That low-budget beer commercial was a really big part of it, just realizing how well Aaron and I work together, and how much better the work is when Aaron and I work together. And then, also, seeing the chemistry between Peter and Vinny, so that was a big part of the conception of Resolution. There were other things, too. I knew I was saving up money to shoot a feature at some point, and I had about three years’ worth of production assistant wages, which didn’t cover everything, but it was just time. It was like, “If we don’t do this now, I’m going to get hit by a car or something and then have to pay hospital bills. I’ll never direct a feature.” So that was a big part of it.

But the other thing was, my dad acquired this property out in San Diego, under really strange circumstances. So he has this property, right, and there are four cabins on it; he wanted to build a fifth cabin, but apparently, due the county of San Diego’s rules, he couldn’t build a fifth structure unlessit was deemed a film set. He was already halfway through, so he just stopped construction, and Aaron walked in and was looking at the way it was half-finished. He realized that it was actually perfect as it was, for rigging lights and everything.

That cabin is so fucking creepy, because it doesn’t look like the cabin from Evil Dead, or Cabin Fever, or, of course, The Cabin in the Woods. It doesn’t look like those cabins, but there’s something creepier about it because it doesn’t quite meet those expectations.

So that also led to where the story eventually ended up, and then there was also, as far as the conception of the story, the fact that… In San Diego, and I know if this is the case for all of California, but it definitely is where I grew up, no one ever goes out to cabins in woods to, like, party with a bunch of hot girls for spring break. I’ve always seen that in movies and I’m like, “Damn, who are all these hot girls who go out with you and all your buddies to cabins to drink beer?” [Laughs.] “This has never happened!” So we’ve got a great cabin, we’ve got great people, and we’ve got the financing, so I just thought, Why would someone go out to a cabin in the woods, in the boonies of San Diego? And the only reasons you ever hear are to shoot guns, avoid your taxes, and smoke crack. [Laughs.]

Which leads nicely into Resolution’s great setting, this really bizarre, creepy, and unfamiliar wooded area that acts as one of the film’s most important characters.
Cilella:
It’s a landscape that’s so bizarre, right? I’ve lived in California for ten years, and I’ve driven through many parts of California, but I’ve never seen a landscape that unique. It’s not the woods and it’s not the desert yet—it’s kind of this in-between.

Moorhead: It’s beautiful and odd, and, also, the people who live out there… I feel like they just sort of throw their creativity out there, like, “I’m going to go and make this thing today,” and then they just don’t finish it. They put two days into a 50-day project and then they stop. [Laughs.] They’re just like, “Fuck it.” But you saw that weird tractor trailer thing that Peter’s character finds the roll of film in, right? Where did that come from? [Laughs.]

So that’s how it all looks in real life, too?
Benson: Yeah, the geography of the story is almost, probably 100% how it is in real life. Like, what you probably feel as a viewer is what the geography of this place that the characters are at actually is. That weird tractor trailer thing is actually a five-minute walk from that cabin, and it’s in this weird river bed.

Moorhead: Yeah, and it’s like, “How on Earth did this thing get there and staythere?” It’s all built-out, and there are rugs and weird, old history books in it. It’s really creepy.

Did you guys read up on the actual history of the property?
Moorhead: We wrote our own history! [Laughs.] No, I’m just kidding.

Benson:When my parents first acquired that land, there were some caretakers living there, and they were named the Buckners—I’ve actually never told you guys this.

The Buckners, like the redneck zombie family in The Cabin in The Woods. They have the same name.
Benson:No shit! That’s right—that was the Buckners! I totally forgot about that. Wasn’t The Cabin in the Woods fucking amazing, by the way? So good. But, anyway, the Buckners lived there rent-free, and they were the caretakers. This place was owned by this hospital that went out of business down in National City, San Diego, and they let this couple, the Buckners, live there. They were this creepy, extremely old couple. They would always say that the place was haunted, and they were the kind of couple who’d always have these rusty, old Folgers coffee cans filled with pennies and screws all over their house.

When my parents started cleaning everything up, they rented out the places, and of course you have the young people that come out there to, probably, take acid every night. They’d say, “You hear that this place is haunted?” [Laughs.]

Peter and Vinny, did you guys have any time to explore the property before shooting? It seems like it’d actually be more beneficial to step onto that land for the first time and start shooting, to make the fears and curiosities even more realistic.
Cilella: We’d been down there a couple of times to rehearse in the space, but there were certain things that I hadn’t seen, because they were new. All that driving in the beginning, we did a ton of driving to get those shots of the lake, so I was definitely experiencing all of that for the first time. But the cabin itself, we had been in to kind of work out the space and see where we’d want to be.

Vinny Curran: But I was confused the entire time. [Laughs.] With the story itself, I had no idea what was going on during the first couple of rehearsals. It took me a long time to figure out exactly where we were going. I’m always confused, but I use that to my advantage, and since my character is on drugs in the script, I figured that I could just sustain my confusion and that would be fine. So I was confident in my confusion. [Laughs.]

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Tags: resolution, comedy, horror, justin-benson, aaron-scott-moorhead, tribeca-film-festival
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