UTG INTERVIEW: ‘Resolution’ Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Resolution

Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Resolution is one of the most legitimately creepy and intense horror genre films we’ve seen in some time. Without any over the top visual effects and a unique twist on the supernatural theme, the sense of reality and terror in the film has certainly resonated with us and the film’s ending has led to some conversations amongst us that have seen it. Overall, we dare to say that it’s easily one of the best horror films we’ve seen in the past few years, or maybe even longer.

We had the opportunity to speak with the two directors recently about all things Resolution, their work relationship, and what they have in the pipeline for future efforts. Read through the break and enjoy this exclusive interview with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead.

First of all, how did the two of you come together to work on Resolution?

J: We interned together at Ridley Scott’s commercial production company and just started to work together on shorts and spec ads. We were between getting people coffee and eating the free sandwiches when Aaron said he wanted to be a director/DP and I said I wanted to be a director/writer. Somehow two people met who actually make lots of stuff and don’t just talk about it.

A: After we met I shot a few things with Justin and we started working more and more closely together. Justin saved his pennies for like three years and approached me with the script and the phrase “I’m pretty sure we can get this movie made with the money in my savings account.” After reading it and confirming that it was, indeed, “the Best Script Ever Written,” I came on and we co-made Resolution.

What inspirations helped to shape the script/storyline?

J: To a small extent, character driven European horror films, the DIY American classics, but to be honest every step was to do something unique… something progressive and not paying tribute to anything.

A: Although I didn’t write it, a genuine desire to make a film that was completely honest to itself from the ground up (that is, every decision made based on the script, not the marketing possibilities).

Are there any negative attributes to co-directing a film? Did you guys butt heads at all during the process?

J: Butting heads about our movies doesn’t really happen. We just talk through something if we suddenly realize it’s not working. It’s better than talking to myself. And on the promotional, film festival trail I get to party with my best friend. So no, nothing bad. Unless you count the time we met too many beautiful girls in Europe. Oh wait, that never happened.

A: Yeah, if we argued all the time it wouldn’t make any damn sense to do this. It’s pretty much like having four arms and two bodies to get all the same stuff done. You become like this hyper-efficient thing-doing machine.

Resolution currently has 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. What are your thoughts on that? When the film was finished were you wary at all about how it would be received?

J: We had NO IDEA how it would be received. We’re two dudes with mainstream tastes striving to break new ground in that arena. We love every second of Resolution, but how well the creepy stuff, funny stuff etc. would work was all theoretical until we saw it at the premiere at Tribeca with an audience. We may have high-fived during it. Don’t remember.

A: We were prepared to make a VERY polarizing movie. We probably won’t ever make something this crowd-pleasing again, because it was unexpectedly so for many audience members. It kinda tore outta nowhere, for audiences AND us.

As I was writing these questions, I just realized that the new Evil Dead kind of did a similar thing with weaving the drug addiction and supernatural forces. Have you seen that? Did you enjoy it if so? I don’t know if I’m the only one to make that somewhat irrelevant connection but the timing is rather coincidental on releases.

J: Haven’t seen it. Heard it’s a lot of fun with some incredible make-up FX. Not easy stuff to do. It was fun the week it came out because it was like Resolution got another round of reviews because the detox plot similarity got mentioned so much. And I mean, we did steal the cabin in the woods bit…

You mentioned trying to break ground and such, but when you started writing Resolution and then more so when filming it, what was your guys’ focus on how you wanted it to come across on screen? I would imagine that you wouldn’t have released it unless you were happy with the result but looking back on it now, is there anything you wish you would’ve done differently?

J: Nothing. The goal was always to hit every piece of humor and dramatic note so effectively that people would love these guys and thus be creeped out as fuck. It’s 100% ours and we love every frame of it.

A: The approach for every aspect of the film came so directly from the script that it’s a bit crazy. I know it seems like every filmmaker would say that, but I’m serious, it had nothing to do with budgetary restrictions or our personal inspirational fetishes. There’s even a very literal story reason for the way that the camera moves, the movie is lit, and the performances are hit.

What type of release plan do you have for the film from here on out? Does it have a specific home, distribution wise?

J: Just want people to see it. The DVD comes out in the US this summer through Tribeca Film and we put a lot of work into it. It’s a very fun DVD with the maximum amount of extras that we could pack in.

A: If you want to see it, the easiest way is probably on Amazon Instant or iTunes. But the DVD and Blu-ray–man, that’s gonna be something to behold. Peter Jackson called us and said he was very upset that we outdid his Extended Editions in terms of amount of extra content. That’s not true. But we definitely have the strangest.

What would you say that your strengths are individually as filmmakers?

J: Hard to say beyond Aaron has his 10,000 hours of cinematography & VFX and I have my 10,000 hours of writing. We both edit really well more out of pragmatism than passion.

A: We both spend all our spare time thinking about things we find interesting. We bond a lot on our shared taste in movies, of course, but also we share an obsessive work ethic. We absolutely love what we do and it’s all we ever want to be doing.

You guys have mentioned that you have a lot of new tag-teamed stuff in the works? What information can you give us on that?

J: Our next three features are written. For the purposes of pitching we’ve had to deconstruct what exactly it is we do, which is genre films where we make the horror or sci-fi or whatever work better by hitting the audience with realistic, likable characters and lot of dark humor. Looking like the next movie is Spring

A: We have some rumblings from some other big projects as well, but yeah, our next thing is likely to be Spring, kind of a spiritual and logical successor to Resolution about a young man who flees the United States for Italy, where he gets into an extremely strange romance.

With Resolution being such a hit, do you think that you can top it with these next efforts? Is it intimidating at all to have kind of debuted as a team with such a well-received film?

J: The team thing makes it easier, and it’s actually not that stressful because the more you do something the better you get at it. There is absolutely no reason why every project won’t be better than the last. We make films almost everyday so progression is pretty inevitable.

A: The success of Resolution doesn’t intimidate us at all. We’re just proud of it, but it’s not like we sit with our heads in our hands thinking, “man, how do we tell a better story than THAT one?” There are tons more stories. And better ones.

If you were to ever agree to another team tackling a remake of Resolution, are there any specific directors that you would feel comfortable allowing to do so?

J: Coen Bros., Ciaran Foy and Matthias Hoene would be an interesting team. They could give it that Irish/English/German sensibility, and then take all the film fest awards from us AGAIN. And the Soska Twins would be cool… I mean I think they would come up with some pretty creative ways for Chris to cut that arm off. We’d probably feel pretty emasculated after seeing that version.

A: I wonder if Alfonso Cuaron would be interested from his Y Tu Mama Tambien days. I’m also not kidding when I’d love to see Michael Bay attack this same exact story, just to see what the hell that would be.

What are some of your favorite horror films that are more realistically terrifying and aren’t completely over the top?

J: Wake in Fright, Picnic at Hanging Rock, House with the Laughing Windows, The Devil’s Backbone, The Orphanage.

A: (Ditto on all his and adding) The Exorcist, Kill List, House of the Devil.

What have been the biggest rewards from your career thus far?

J: Film festivals, meeting other filmmakers while travelling is a huge privilege. Getting a different perspective on the art form while in these intensely cool settings is a priceless education.

A: The film festival circuit has about a million advantages: exposure/press, business opportunities for your next film, your film has an audience you can interact with, getting to travel, and generally just life experiences.

As a filmmaking team, what is your ultimate goal? What do you hope to contribute to the annals of film?

J&A: Make unique movies that audiences like as much as we do. That’s all.
 

Written and conducted by: Brian Lion – Follow him on Twitter


Brian Leak

Editor-In-Chief. King of forgetting drinks in the freezer. Pop culture pack rat. X-Phile. LOST apologist.
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  • Thank you so much for talking to us about our movie man!

  • Absolutely! Thank you for making it and taking the time to chat with me. I look forward to ‘Spring’ and everything else to come. Especially the ‘Resolution’ blu-ray!

  • BillWarren

    what Charles explained I cannot believe that you can make $9598 in 1 month on the network.

  • BillWarren

    ….—goo.gl/vr5ZJ (Home more information)

  • Randalyn Benson

    GREAT Interview!

  • Thank you for reading, Randalyn!