Shariff Nasr is a director and scriptwriter. He has won several prizes including the ‘Best Commercial of 2009′, ‘People’s Choice Award’ in 2011 (filminute), ‘Grand Prix’ in 2012 (Snapfilm Krakow), and a ‘Golden Quickie’ in 2010.
When was the first time you watched a horror film, and how did it affect you?
That was The Thing. I was still in primary school when I saw it and I was so amazed by the psychological fear of not knowing who can be trusted. And the special effects were so realistic, that I, as a child, really did not understand how they made it. Also Poltergeist and It were films I found very scary at that time. Funnily enough, I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street, Evil Dead, Braindead and Halloween at a similar age and just found them amusing. I think I was already more scared of paranormal and psychological fear than monsters and slashers.
I think the rollercoaster of adrenaline it gives you, but I have always been fascinated by the dark side. As a kid I only wanted to play with things that were scary or gross. I had a lot of monster toys and collected stickers of the ‘Garbage pail kids’. Children that collected GI Joe toys or soccer stickers were boring in my eyes. When I was 10 years old I saw a documentary in the evening about special effects and make-up artists in horror films and was amazed. I couldn’t sleep afterwards. I never knew you could make a living out of something that was so cool. When the teacher asked the kids in class: ‘what would you like to become?’ he was very surprised to hear my answer between the ‘policemen’, ‘doctors’ and ‘professional sportsmen’.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Winning ‘commercial of 2009’ with a rather shocking commercial for a non-profit organisation. In this commercial you see how a sexy burlesque stripper gets cut open and stripped of her internal organs on-stage, to draw attention to the fact that this happens to fish every day, alive and conscious.
What are you working on now?
At the moment I am working on various projects. Most of them have social relevance, but none are horror. In the future I hope to make a longer horror film with an atmosphere like Love Hurts. Unfortunately in Holland there are not many investors in horror. All recent Dutch horror has been made on a relatively small budget. There are interesting Dutch projects coming up though.
The filmmakers really work hard to make their films. A lot of films are made on a very low budget with people that all want to help because they believe in it. It is kind of a niche group, with a passionate fan base. Horror fans are the most involved and wonderful community you could have as supporters.
Do you prefer gore or psychological horror?
Psychological horror can give me that big adrenaline rush. It might sound strange, but if I watch gore it is more for amusement.
How important is it to unsettle a viewer?
I think it is necessary to unsettle your viewer. Horror should be an experience. After seeing the movie your body should have been on every corner of your seat.
How do you evoke fear?
By creating empathy for your main character and putting this person in a situation where he/she is (almost) helpless. Suspense is the keyword. I prefer to have mystery around the antagonist. Sound is also very important to create fear at special moments, but silence should never be underestimated.
Psychological horror; especially the video games Silent hill 2 and 3, they scared the crap out of me!
Why should people watch your films?
I try to do more than amuse people.
How far is too far when it comes to horror cinema?
Torture porn and rape exploitation really disgust me. I don’t see the necessity or amusement in it. It is purely exploitation for a sick mind.
The visual effects are so realistic at the moment. I like it, but sometimes I miss the rawness seen in older horror movies. What I do like is the new genre of horrors in documentary style, like Paranormal Activity.
Recommend a film.
My all time favorite horror movie is the Spanish [Rec]. I saw it in the cinema and have never experienced such an eerie silence in the audience.