Some of the best surprises at FrightFest can be found in the Discovery Screens, and one film that made an impression this year was low-budget French horror comedy Sadik 2. A group of friends head to a cabin for their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but a shocking turn of events at the film’s halfway point take things down a much darker path.
Writer/director Robin Entreinger and star Marjolaine Pottlitzer spoke exclusively to SciFiNow about the trials and joys of low-budget filmmaking and the state of French horror.
Sadik 2 has a really dramatic plot shift halfway through. What was the driving central idea when you were writing it?
Robin Entreinger: I wanted to play with the basics of horror films. I wanted to do a sort of soap TV show that goes into horror afterwards. So you have two stories; the TV show that looks like a TV comedy stuff, and then it goes into horror. So playing with the genre.
Marjolaine Pottlitzer: Playing with the rules. And also he wanted to quote every horror movie he liked.
RE: Or not. Whether I like or not. Because I say something about major horror films that has been made in the last ten years like Paranormal Activity and stuff like that. So it’s about everything. It’s kind of a genre comedy; a homage.
Since the beginning we had the idea of two movies in one. So I think it’s 40 minutes or so, it’s like symmetry. That change is difficult to make for the audience, and we knew that. People have to know the characters otherwise you don’t care about them. And in Sadik 2 the idea was to make the audience like them. You like them right? Let’s go to the next part. So for some people it worked well and some people are saying that the first half is too long. But if you expect a horror scene every five minutes, don’t see Sadik 2. It was a very hard decision because we know we are going to lose audience for that. But we gained another audience of people having fun. But you make the movie for them. You get fun in the first half, but you get more fun in the second half because you had fun in the first half.
It’s pretty much two films in one. What was it like going between what is essentially a dramatic comedy and then a horror?
MP: We shot the first half before and we were having fun, and when it started to get horror-style we were having make-up done, we were showing the pictures to each other and stuff. “Oh no, what’s happening to you?”
RE: We didn’t do any of the horror scenes for the first six days of shooting, so it was just like a soap comedy TV show. So it was very fun and everyone enjoyed it. And we do the horror part afterwards in another place and it was totally different. That’s why I think at the beginning of the movie for the first half you get, everyone’s enjoying being on holiday and stuff like that, so nobody’s thinking about the horror that we’re going to do after.
It’s very important that you care about and believe in the characters in a film like this. Did you guys know each other beforehand?
MP: Some of us are really good friends. And then we met before, the six of us, except for the guy who plays Marco, the lunatic. He did a great job because I think he thought our chemistry could work together, and then he did it. We actually are friends now.
RE: Something you have to know is we were staying in the actual house we were shooting in. There was no other location for living in. So it was like a big group of friends, you see that kind of connection. Even if they didn’t know each other at the beginning, after one or two days it was like friends because the house we shot in they were living in.
RE: Seven days. I know it’s quick, but it’s a load of stuff you have to fit in, the schedule of the actors and stuff like that. It’s very difficult to do with low budget.
MP: But we pulled through!
RE: We started very early in the morning, especially the production crew. I needed one week to recover, I slept for a week. The hardest part? The schedule. I think there are 70 sequences in the movie and 7 days, so it was 10 sequences a day, so you do what you can do best to fit the sequences into the days. It was difficult because the actors, the location, the special effects, the locations, there are two locations actually because the house and the basement are not the same house, we had to move, and that’s the most difficult part, I guess: preparation.
MP: I think we had a great team all together, and the first AD did a great job, because we were staying in the house he even made a shower schedule. We couldn’t all shower because we were shooting, and also the guy who was cooking couldn’t cook because we were all shooting, so that was difficult. But everyone did their best and because everyone wanted to do their best, so it goes up and up and up, and we had good fun doing that. I think we’re really happy about this project altgother. I’m very thankful to him because he’s the leader of the thing.
RE: I chose everyone so I knew it was going to go well, but some of the people I chose didn’t know each other, so I had to work on good moods so people could connect to each other, but I worked on that before, so I knew it was going to go well. I had this feeling.
How do you feel about the state of French horror at the moment? It feels like it’s slowed down a bit.
RE: You know why? It’s because they leave! They are in Hollywood now! I like horror movies, but there’s a big community of horror amateurs in France, and I don’t know why we don’t get more.
The thing is it’s very hard to get money to do that. Because the people who give money, it’s one big society depending on the country, and you know French movies are intellectual and comedies. And fantastic horror is covered by comedy. Not like Sadik 2 and arthouse. So it’s very difficult to get money and get people interested by that.
MP: In France, when you try to do something different, they don’t like you. And if you want to do something less intellectual, they’ll laugh at you. I think France is conservative about their art.
RE: That’s why they leave to go to Hollywood, Alexandre Aja and so on, they leave because there is no money in France to do it. In my opinion there is an audience for it. But the French don’t make horror movies, so if you ask a regular French horror fan they say “Yeah, we go see American and German horror films, but a French one? You’re kidding. No way do the French make good horror.” There are some. Frontières, A L’intérieur. There are a few.
Do you think you’ll stay with horror?
RE: Actually, I’m interested by horror and arthouse, so my first film Victimes is kind of a mix. It hasn’t been released because it’s too weird; it crossed horror and arthouse. So I just made a horror with Sadik 2, and my next film is just an arthouse movie. But I think I will continue with both and definitely the movie I shoot next year will be a horror movie. Maybe a fantastic one. I have maybe 10 scripts in my head and it’s very difficult to pitch the next one.
MP: I like slasher movies! I’m really happy to have done that, but the only thing I was disappointed about was that I didn’t have any blood on me! But I was in Victimes and I had a lot of blood on my face.
Have you been enjoying FrightFest?
It’s crazy; I went to Glasgow last year with Victimes. The organisers are cool and friendly, and that’s very much appreciated.