It’s the second installment of our three-part exclusive – as one of 26 sites chosen by ABCs of Death 2, we’re spotlighting the segment “R is for Roulette.” Today, we have a Q&A with director Marvin Kren.
Luke Y. Thompson: The aesthetic choice of black and white, along with the classic pistol and the fact that the characters are speaking German is likely to make American audiences think of World War II. Is that a deliberate allusion, or us stereotyping?
Marvin Kren: The author and my friend Ben Hessler wrote the story for nowadays. I felt that a different approach would add something. In pre-production I watched classics like The Haunting and Sunset Boulevard and then fell in love with the idea of using black and white, and combining it automatically with our dark past as a backstory was very thrilling and challenging for me. It was a challenge to create an authentic look from old movies. For the look we used old lenses with a soft focus. Every movie is an exercise!
LYT: Did it take long to figure out what your letter would stand for?
MK: We had some other good ideas! Together with the producers Tim League and Ant Timpson we decided to do Roulette. I am very happy about this!
LYT: We’re clearly seeing part of a much bigger story. How much have you worked out about the parts we don’t see – like the nature of the antagonists? Would you make this into a full-length film given the opportunity, or is the story you wanted to tell with it fully told?
MK: There are no plans to do a full length film out of it. What kind of danger is on the other side is up to the audience imagination!
LYT: Russian roulette can only be shot so many ways – how did you approach it to be different from every other way it’s been seen on film, and what would you say is the trick to how you managed to ratchet up the tension so effectively and so quickly?
MK: I am truly a fan of films like The Deer Hunter or 13. Russian Roulette is unbearably tense in and of itself. I did not try to reinvent the wheel. It was more important for me and the actors to create a tense and authentic atmosphere.
LYT: Are you told what or whose shorts will play before or after yours? For example, if you were told the ones surrounding you were both comedic, you might want to avoid comedy just to be different and to help overall pacing. Is that even a factor, or do you just make what you want and let Magnolia & Drafthouse Films worry about the final assembly? Do they give you any direction aside from the letter?
MK: No. I truly did not care. I put all my trust in the producers! The only thing they told me was please try to avoid toilet jokes because there were so many in the last one.
LYT: How did you get selected to be a part of this? Did seeing the first ABCs of Death give you some idea of how to approach it?
MK: I knew Tim from Fantastic Fest and I met Ant at TIFF where my film BLOOD GLACIER premiered. Both liked the film and asked me if I would like to do an episode. I was more than happy. Megahappy!
LYT: What is your next project? Do you plan to stick with horror?
MK: Right now I am shooting a thriller in Germany and developing some scary stuff for cinema which hopefully gets funded next year.
ABCs of Death 2 is currently available on-demand, and in theaters starting Halloween.