New Age of Horror: Humanity over technology says director Garris

American horror director Mick Garris (Hocus Pocus 1993, Sleepwalkers 1992) debuted the Irish screening of his latest anthology of horror in the IFI last weekend.  

The annual Horrorthon event was enveloped by a passion for the genre, with fans eagerly gathered over the weekend; pints in one hand and their tickets in the other.

The anthology film Nightmare Cinema is the work of five directors also including Joe Dante, David Slade, Ryuhei Kitamura and Alejandro Brugués.

The horror follows five strangers who find themselves inside a haunted theatre, where the projectionist (Mickey Rourke) forces each of them to watch a personal screening of their deepest fears and secrets.

Nightmare Cinema aka Wrap AroundPhoto by Michael Moriatis
Mick Garris thoroughly enjoyed working with Mickey Rourke but said when it came to 10pm, the Oscar nominee was done filming for the day // IMDb

While each tale is unique, they collectively pull on the terror that lives in the mind of everyone who dares to watch. Touching on fears including arachnophobia, mental illness, perfectionism and suicide, it was clear that this new era of horror cinema is turning new technology on its head to delve deeper into one’s own inescapable dread.

“I never set out to be an ambassador of horror or the Forrest Gump of horror [laughs],” said Mick Garris.

Keeping with his distinctive 90s style, he believes that modern horror shouldn’t grow from technological advances just because it’s the modern age.

“Technology is kinda ‘who cares’ for me. It’s more about humanity…the emotional stuff. Emo-horror is kind of my [niche] now, and I like stuff that connects in that way. [Technology] is great because it allowed us to do so many things with bodies, and things like that can give you a visual. The technology is important… but it plays second-fiddle to stir in the people,” says Garris

The auteur approach from each director was evident in the film’s narrative. Garris’ part of the anthology touched on the concept of family death, directly influenced by his own experience. “Portraying death in very operatic terms” he explains.

Although Hollywood is “very competitive and cut-throat” the genre of horror differs continued Garris: “We all live in that gutter … we’re united … we’re outsiders and we’re together, and that’s why there are horror festivals and not Western festivals or drama festivals … it’s a group of outsiders who love them, and who make them. We are still outsiders despite the success of our genre in recent years.”

Although Garris believes that being able to achieve something special within the genre can be difficult, Nightmare Cinema has the ability to awaken the viewers’ unexplored fears.

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