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in Filmmaking
on Sep 20, 2007

If you are in New York this weekend, consider going to see Larry Fessenden’s Iceland-set, environmental/exisentialist horror movie The Last Winter, which is playing at the IFC Center. Manohla Dargis gave the film an amazing review in the New York Times.

She wrote, in part:

It’s amazing what you can do with a low budget, an expansive imagination and a smooth-moving camera. (A fine cast helps.) An heir to the Val Lewton school of elegantly restrained horror, wherein an atmosphere of dread counts far more than a bucket of blood and some slippery entrails, the director Larry Fessenden is among the most thoughtful Americans working on the lower-budget end of this oft-abused and mindlessly corrupted genre.

Apocalyptic in title and tone, “The Last Winter,” written by Robert Leaver and Mr. Fessenden, breathes fresh air into a stale setup (an isolated group gone stir crazy or something) by insisting that our everyday horrors aren’t a matter of arid news reports but of feverishly real, terrifying life.

And if you haven’t checked out the Filmmaker.com main page (which you really should, because there is a lot of new web-only content there), here’s a link to Damon Smith’s interview with Fessenden.

An excerpt:

Filmmaker: Do you find it hard writing for horror audiences considering that you’re not giving them the gory stuff most fans are clamoring for?

Fessenden: No. [Laughs] Costa-Gavras maybe, but all that is political. By chance, I’ve made two movies about environmental issues and I can honestly say that is quite rare. There is a tradition in some horror movies of the revenge of the beasts — with frogs and God knows what — but my model is much more traditional. I’m influenced by Scorsese’s movies and Roman Polanski, who has that subtle sense of dread in his films.

Filmmaker: How do you think people will respond to The Last Winter?

Fessenden: I’ve really carved a very strange place for myself — the pursuit of the uncanny. I really think the uncanny is what we live every day, and to express that is so cool. The axe murder in an absolutely shocking and horrifying event, but it only happens to a few of us. We can obsess on it, and that’s fine, but what’s intriguing is the peculiarity you live with every day. The little nicks and cuts, as opposed to the huge axe murder—those are things that we do to ourselves and we’re doing right now. There is no more symbolic feature in our lives than the fact that we are ignoring this thing that is killing us. It’s just madness.

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