A young priest is summoned to battle dark supernatural forces threatening a remote Island community.
THE VICTIMS BEING PUNISHED
> How did the story of “Blight” came to be?
Even before shooting this film, I was working really closely with Matt Roach, who wrote the script, and had worked together in a couple of different projects. We had this idea about looking at an exorcism in a different way, and we were both fans of films like “The Wicker Man”, where there is this idea of an outsider going into an strange environment, so we kind of combined those two perspectives with a couple of different ideas and we kind of slowly worked it out over some months.
On top of that, I guess I’ve always had an interest in horror films, and in this particular case, I tried to use the genre of horror to explore some social issues, comment on history, etc. I think that when you work within a genre, you should try to expand it and do something different, to do something original, so we wanted to turn this genre (or sub-genre) on its head.
> Exorcism is a theme that has been dealt with a lot throughout cinema history. Why do you think that is?
The idea of possession itself has always been prevalent in every country in the world, all over different places and religions: there’s always been this idea of being overtaken by a different force, be it a spirit, an animal, God, or whatever, and I think that’s the baseline. But then we have the idea of “exorcism”, which is kind of a bad example of a possession of the body, and I think that exorcism has always been very interesting for people in that it provides a very clear “proof” of evil, of something unequivocally bad, or, put another way, of the proof that “evil” exists.
In a weird way, it’s kind of a way to prove to ourselves that there is a god, because, if there’s a devil, or a demon, there has to be something on the other side, right? I think that’s been the catch for lots of people, and on top of that, it makes for great cinema, with this kind of eternal battle between good and evil, and the fight for the soul. That resonates with people.
> What is your relationship with religion?
I’m an atheist myself, but I’ve always been intrigues by the mystery of rituals in different religions. I don’t believe in God myself, and maybe that makes it easier for me to explore this things, because, you know, one of the things that we wanted to explore in “Blight” is how society and the Catholic church are interlinked, and have been interlinked throughout history – and how that has had ramifications that have lasted for years, and how the damaged inflicted by the church towards society has always come through the way in which the people themselves have always looked up to the church to solve their problems, be it child abuse, incest, etc.
Now, all of these things would be very difficult, if not impossible, for a believer to explore. And this is the reason why, when all these things have been dealt with, we’ve had the victims being punished, instead of the perpetrators, and mental hospitals being filled with perfectly sane people, and churches where young women have worked as slaves for the rest of their lives after being abused or raped, and the bastards have been abandoned, or rejected, etc. So we wanted to comment on those things, but packaging them within a “horror” setup.
> Having a degree in English and Philosophy is not common amongst filmmakers. In what way do you think that may have shaped your work?
I did end up doing a masters’ on “film production and direction”, so I suppose it was just a roundabout way to come to it; but I think that, for me, it was a good way to do so, because by studying english and philosophy and literature I became grounded in a lot of different influences, and it helped me to develop a different way of looking at the world than the one that so many filmmakers have.
I think that a lot of filmmakers live in a kind of “film-bubble”, and only try to replicate what they’ve seen before, because, ff film is all you care about, you become really near-sighted, and you look only at other films, without noticing the innumerable other influences that you could gain if you went outside of that. The best movies have always leaned heavily on many other fields, like art, or literature, or even real life. And nowadays, I think that philosophy is turning up to a lot of different films, and a lot of big moral questions and things like that are being asked.
> Let’s talk a little bit about the “horror” genre within the short film format. At what point do you think it stands, and where do you see it going?
I think that it’s been very difficult to compete with the “social issues” stories that tend to show up in so many short films nowadays, but I do see the trend changing. I’ve seen some changes, and some of my friends have also had greater success in this same field lately, and some festivals are even starting to get more into genre films, etc.
Regarding the genre of horror itself, I think that the “found footage” era that had become so prevalent lately is also starting to change. In “Blight”, I kind of wanted to make some kind of throwback to the 60’s and 70’s, with controlled shootings, no handhelds, no tracking, etc. And in the same way, you can see now all of these new horror films that have come out, that are being called “post-horror”, but that really what they do is go back to the basics, to those films like “The Shining” and “Rosemary’s Baby” and things like that: smart films, very smart, with a kind of “arthouse” mentality.
I think that it’s a very exciting time to be working in this genre right now, and I’m very excited to keep working on it.
At the time of the interview, Brian had 2 and a half feature films in development, one of which was an exploration of the political situation of northern Ireland and child abuse through the dealings of “werewolves”.