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Trent Haaga

When was the first time you watched a horror film, and how did it affect you?

Some of my earliest memories are of being taken to the drive-in by my parents in Kentucky to see the old Harryhausen Sinbad movies. I remember a lot of the older movies that would play on television (I’m from the last pre-VCR generation) like Gargoyles and The Thing With Two Heads. I have always been attracted to the horror genre since as far back as I can remember…

What was it that first attracted you to horror?

I suppose the otherworldliness of the genre, but the fact that they take place in the real world (as opposed to science fiction). Primarily, I’ve always loved the feeling of being scared – even when I was little!

What achievement are you most proud of?

My kids. But if we’re talking about the film world, Deadgirl is something that I’m quite proud of – it’s a script that everyone told me would never get made and not only did it get made, but it took on a life of its own and became something of a cult hit. I always felt in my gut that it could be something special and it was edifying to find out that I was right in the long run. It’s also the first ‘spec’ script that I sold.

What are you working on now?

I’m awaiting the release of Chop, my directorial debut. I’ve also recently written two movies for two separate TV networks that both begin shooting in a few months. I’d really like to direct another film – I have a script I want to do and am seeking financing…we’ll see.

Who do you admire in the horror world?

I tend to admire those who are on the edge of the horror world – people who make genre movies but aren’t considered horror people – Lucky McKee, Chris Sivertson, Alex de la Iglesia, Christopher Smith, Simon Rumley, Werrner Herzog etc.

Do you prefer gore or psychological horror?

I was all about the gore as a teenager, but these days I appreciate being disturbed. Gore tends to desensitise you after only a short exposure to it, but a good terrible thought can stick with you for a lifetime!

How important is it to unsettle a viewer?

See above…I think it’s incredibly important if you want your film to be remembered.

How do you evoke fear?

Make someone think that what they’re seeing could easily happen to them at any time. Create characters that the viewer identifies with and understands so that they’re vicariously living through them – then put these characters through hell.

What scares you?

Humans. Scarier than any monster that’s ever been created.

Why should people watch your films?

So that I can continue to work! Hopefully they’ll be entertained or thrilled or emotionally invested while they do so. There are certainly films in my resume that people shouldn’t have to watch under any circumstances!

How far is too far when it comes to horror cinema?

Hurting people for real is off-limits. Beyond that, I’m game for anything.

How do you think horror cinema will evolve in the next ten years?

I don’t know if it will…we’ll probably just be playing through another repeated cycle – horror comedies or slasher films or ghost stories. I don’t know if a basic emotion like horror has to, or will ever, evolve.

Recommend a film.

I love the movie Session 9. It’s genuinely creepy and ambiguous. Check it out if you haven’t.

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