AS THE FILM RECEIVES THEIR NEW YORK PREMIERE, LESFF IS EXCITED TO PRESENT THIS IS OUR HOME, DIRECTED BY OMRI DORANI.
In this psycho-thriller a struggling young couple take a weekend away to themselves, but with the arrival of a child who claims to be their son, their long night may skew everything they know. We got a chance to chat with the filmmakers about creating the intimate world of This Is Our Home, and found out what their favorite thrillers are!
LOWER EAST SIDE FILM FESTIVAL: The majority of the film is so intimately shot, we see each characters’ understated worlds the longer we’re with them. What was the inspiration behind creating this world?
Director Omri Dorani: The intent behind creating this claustrophobic and understated world came with both tonal and emotional intentions. We were very excited about taking the psychological thriller genre and throwing it into a character-driven film. Our goal was for most of the horror to be expressed through the anxieties of our lead characters; we created a slow burn, giving subtle hints about these people and their perspectives as the story progresses. If you study a character long enough, you start to understand them even in subtext. We also wanted to create a world that felt somewhat like a bubble— one that didn't really engage with the outside— to capture the facet of trauma and turmoil that makes us feel as though we and our circumstances are all-consuming. We wanted our audience to decide for themselves who the true antagonist is, and by offering journeys into each character's individual universe we provide them with the tools they need to make that decision. In making a horror film that manifests through a young couple's anxieties and trauma, we wanted to explore the complex intricacies of relationships and show that no matter the story, it has (at least) two sides.
Co-star/Producer Simone Policano: Omri and our cinematographer Tom Taugher also had the brilliant idea of changing aspect ratios with each character's new perspective. Each new ratio captures the essence of that character's experience: Zeke's perspective, for example, is shot in 16x9: fully filling the frame to capture his wide-eyed, childlike wonder. These visual shifts allowed us to further lean into our exploration of one circumstance from multiple points of view.
LESFF: Drew Beckas (Zeke) does a wonderfully innocent job from the moment he arrives. What was it like working with a child performer in a thriller? Are there certain aspects you keep, or is he as explicitly informed as everyone else about the story?
Co-star/Producer Jeff Ayars: I couldn't believe how professional and insightful Drew was; he asked great questions and really internalized Omri's notes. There were aspects of the story we tried to simplify or avoid if it wasn't necessary for his performance--but frankly when it came down to it, he was less disturbed by the gore than Simone and I were...
Simone Policano: Every time I've watched horror films with children I've always wondered about the process of working with those actors: how much do you tell them, how do you draw out the best performance, etc. Working with Drew was such a special experience because we realized right away that he naturally brings such a unique energy to film, we really just wanted to capture the cool intricacies he walked in the door with. There is a marvelous innocence and wholesomeness about him— he smiles more often than not and was so down to play and have a lot of fun. Which might sound counterintuitive to a horror film, but it is precisely Zeke's naiveté that makes him so intriguing a character. In his mind he truly believes Reina [Simone Policano] and Cory [Jeff Ayars] to be his parents, and it is in that genuine conviction where the curiousness (and creepiness!) lies. So rather than tell him to "play a creepy kid," we just had him play the circumstances— these are your parents and they don't seem to understand or remember that they're your parents… how would that make you behave? And worked from there. Drew has so many wonderfully interesting mannerisms and specificities that he brought to the role that in a sense we more brought the film to Drew than brought Drew to the film. Often Omri would have the camera rolling on him for long periods of time without him even knowing, so we were able to capture much of that individuality that made us so excited about him in the first place. A lot of Zeke's cool eccentricities you see in the film are just Drew being Drew! And yes, he loved the gore. The scene with the most intense gore (you'll know it when you see it) honestly really freaked me out, and I was nervous about bringing him to set because I thought he'd be overwhelmed. But he was so into it and thought it was so cool. Ah, 11 year old boys.
LESFF: What are your top 3 favorite thriller films, any era, any sub-category?!
Omri: The Skin I Live In, The Witch, Raw
Jeff: Silence of the Lambs is the all-time favorite.
Simone: Hereditary, Goodnight Mommy, The Prestige
Article by Tatiana Fenner