To celebrate the recent VOD release of the horror film Come Play, we sat down with writer/director Jacob Chase to talk about the legend of Larry and adapting his short film into a feature.
STARBURST: Congratulations on the film. This is a feature-length version of your short film LARRY from 2017.
JACOB CHASE: Thank you so much. Yes, I shot the short film and had no idea it would become a feature film - I feel very lucky that I got to make this.
Did you at least have a plan to eventually make it into a feature?
It sort of evolved naturally - I made the short to prove I could make something suspenseful and get together with my friends to make another short - I happened to have this monster costume in my garage from a haunted house I used to run.
When you're making a short film, you're trying to do it as cheaply as possible so the costume came in handy [laughs]. Of course, I look up to those filmmakers who've taken the leap from short to feature in the past like Andy Muschetti with Mama and David F. Sandberg with Lights Out - but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would happen to me. I focused on making a cool short and luckily people responded to it and I got the opportunity to expand it.
Let's talk about Larry himself - obviously, the design was based on the monster costume you had, but how did he evolve when going from short to feature?
Creating the monster started as something I made with foam and latex, etc, including me on stilts walking around scaring people for the short - so for the feature I wanted to keep a similar silhouette so as the creature evolved, Larry evolved too and it was important to me that he wasn't just a creepy monster but was also someone who was pained and lonely in their internal psyche - so I developed the look with the Jim Henson Creature Shop who ultimately made Larry.
I always wanted him to be a practical monster because I love practical effects, especially in horror movies as it really lends itself to making you more afraid because its really there but also I was going to be working with young actors so giving them something to act off of to get genuine reactions. It was an incredible challenge but awesome to watch all the puppeteers work with the creature on set. A brilliant team effort.
We mentioned how Larry is more than just a monster, he's also a physical representation of loneliness amongst other things (we really connected with that), was that core narrative always the plan to adapt?
Yes, it's certainly expanded in the feature but I do think the seeds of that idea are planted in the short. I set the short in this parking lot with a simple guy working as an attendant as that is a job that seems really lonely - I've never had that job but I've often thought that it seems lonely so that connection between the character and Larry has always been there.
I was very much inspired by Frankenstein - a monster who people are afraid of but he's just trying to find his place in the world. I wanted Larry to be something that people would be scared of and also empathise with and I think we achieved that from his mythology, the way he interacts with characters and the sound design.
Larry interacts with the world through technology, specifically the Tablet that Oliver, the lead character, owns. How was it bringing that relatable realism to life with the cast?
I think modern horror movies are using whatever is around us to scare you and what may have been in the past a VHS tape is now a phone or tablet - for me, it was wanting to get the technology out of the way as quickly as possible and making it primarily about the monster.
I would do things like shoot a scene through the device so that we would forget we were in the tablet world and instead be in the monster looking out. I think all three stars, Ahzy, Gillian and John, all really embraced this wonderful mixture of technology and the practical monster. We all use our devices all the time so I don't think we can say 'technology is bad', but it can also be used for good [laughs] - a very helpful communication device, in the terms of Oliver within the story, but it can also be used to spread hate and evil - we all connected to that on a human level.
COME PLAY is out now on VOD the UK and US.