Your new movie The
Curse of Hobbes House - in a few words, what is it about?
Curse of Hobbes House
is a horror-drama. It centers around Jane Dormant and her estranged
half-sister Jennifer. After their aunt commits suicide on the familyís
remote run-down ancestral home, Jane and Jennifer are the last heirs to
their familyís inheritance. When Jane and Jennifer reunite at Hobbes
House, their familyís historic residence, to claim their share, their
disdain for each other reignites. With the estate cut off from the outside
by a powerful storm, Jane, Jennifer, her boyfriend Nigel, the
groundskeeper Naser and the solicitor Saul are faced with strange
creatures laying siege on the estate. Itís the undead, awoken by an
ancient curse, hunting the living. Jane and Jennifer have to put their
differences aside and work together in order to survive.
did you come up with the idea for The
Curse of Hobbes House, and what were your sources of inspiration?
always wanted to shoot an out-and-out zombie movie again, because the fun
on set of a movie like this is a very unique experience. While waiting for
a bigger project to be greenlit, executive producers Malcolm Winter,
Monika Gergelova and I were talking. I told them that screenwriter
Wolf-Peter Arand and I were keen on shooting a lower budgeted film in
between. They were game to put the finance together. Next Wolf and I
bounced some ideas on what we wanted to see in this upcoming project. We
wanted it to be female-led. Also, since Wolf and I have a soft spot for
the political and social undertones of the zombie classics, we were pretty
sold on having that in our new project as well.
can you tell us about The
Curse of Hobbes House's scriptwriter Wolf-Peter Arand, and what
was your collaboration like?
think Wolf is a very gifted writer and a great human being to be around.
One of the reasons I love to work with him is that he doesnít always
agree with my ideas. We challenge and push each other to get the best out
of a project. It makes our collaboration all the more inspiring. I trust
Wolf with my ideas and know when we are working on a story together that
I will want to direct the resulting script.
This wasn't the first time
you've worked with Wolf-Peter Arand - so what can you tell us about your
previous films together, and how did the two of you first meet even?
and I first met about nine or ten years ago on a project called Vitro.
Another producer friend of mine brought us both into the project and we
loved the collaboration. We went on to work on more projects together. He
co-wrote my feature 8 Remains,
which I shot in 2016, and he wrote and co-produced
which was shot in 2017. Both films are psychological thrillers.
We have several other projects in development too.
With The Curse of Hobbes
House being a sort-of-zombie movie, is that a genre you're at all
fond of, and what do you think makes your movie stick out of the crowd?
I mentioned before, I enjoy zombie movies if they have a connection to
relevant social and political events. I think whenever there's
political turmoil in the world, horror and specifically zombie movies can
be great vehicles to deal with it artistically. By the time we shot The Curse of Hobbes
House Brexit was looming over Europe, Trump reigned in the US, and a number of
populist movements were rising in mainland Europe. Refugees were drowning
in the Mediterranean or were cooped up in camps at the EU borders, not to
speak of the war in Syria and the many conflicts the world over. In The Curse of Hobbes
tried to answer this push for division along racial, national and
political lines by insisting that segregation is not only idiotic but
leaves us more vulnerable and poorer on an intellectual, cultural and
economic level. In the movie this was summed up and simplified with the
message: Only unity will keep you safe. I
think that this is as true of a message as ever. All the conflicts Wolf
and I saw around us while writing and making the movie, still exist today.
And because the pandemic dominates pretty much every aspect of our lives,
it amplifies those conflicts, atrocities and grievances too. Which might
pan out to be a good thing, because it forces our collective hand to act,
to improve and actually change instead of shrugging it off, like we did so
often before. Because we know whatís wrong, donít we? So, we either
come together as a species, working on solving our issues, surviving and
eventually prospering. Or we donít, in which case there will be more
suffering and eventually extermination. Thatís how straightforward it
few words about The
Curse of Hobbes House's approach to horror?
With The Curse of Hobbes
tried to stay away from bloodsoaked slasher horror. Whenever I watch a
horror movie, or any movie really, Iím first and foremost interested in
the psychological backbone of the story, and thatís a big part of our
movie too. What does this bleak situation do with our characters and more
importantly with the interaction between them? Thatís as much a part of
the actual horror as the undead themselves, and thatís where the
underlying political theme becomes most obvious as an analogy to people's
interaction in the real world.
can you tell us about your overall directorial approach to your story at
me, the strength of the two sisters was a very important theme in the
movie. Itís embedded in the thrill and feel of this mixture of haunted
house horror and classic zombie flick.
Do talk about The
Curse of Hobbes House's cast, and why exactly these people?
the beginning Wolf and I wrote the story with part of the cast already in
mind. We worked with Mhairi Calvey on 3
and we worked with Kevin Leslie on 8
Theyíre lovely, talented and our collaboration with them was great. So,
asking them was obvious to us. Luckily both of them were game to work with
us again too.
then reached out to other actors to complete the cast. Mhairi recommended
Makenna Guyler. Makenna convinced us with that raw strength and natural
charm in her acting. She has an on-screen presence thatís simultaneously
vulnerable and oozes physical resilience. To top it all up sheís one of
the best humans weíve ever met. Again, Wolf and I were lucky that she
was keen to join us.
role of Naser, the groundskeeper, was harder to cast. Heís a complex,
traumatised guy, not an easy part to play. Eventually the contact with
Waleed Elgadi was made through our script editor and associate producer
Clifford De Spenser. We talked to Waleed about the role. Heís such a
prolific, experienced actor and a lovely person to boot. It became clear
instantly that Waleed had a great grasp on Naser. So, for Wolf and myself
there was no question that we had found the right actor for the job.
general we had a really good time on set with all our actors and that made
the experience truly special.
also have to talk about your location for a bit, and what was it like
location in The Curse of Hobbes
House is almost a leading role. When we were on a recce in Bristol and the
surrounding area, we really liked Kings Weston House, an old house
designed in the early 18th century by architect and dramatist Sir John
Vanbrugh. With a smaller budget you always need a bit of flexibility and
often work around obstacles, especially when it comes to locations. You
often have to adjust the script quite a bit to the location available.
With Kings Weston House little adjustment was necessary. It ticked a lot
of our boxes during our recce and we were able to get a good deal because
we agreed on working around Kings Westonís normal events. It sounded
good at the time, but during principal photography I came to regret that
decision a bit, I must say. Somehow there was an event on almost every day
and we had to adjust our shooting plan around it on the fly. We had
everything from wakes to student parties to childrenís birthdays,
weddings, and business events. What can you do? Thatís an independent
horror movie set for you. We winged it and because our cast and crew did
an amazing job and because the Kings Weston crew helped and supported us
wherever they could, we got it done.
What can you tell us about the shoot as
such, and the on-set atmosphere?
mentioned before the cast was fantastic, on screen and off screen. Easy
going, professional, talented and creative. Thatís all you can ask for
we are putting together our crew and cast for a production itís
important to us to push for gender-balance and diversity. It was the same
for The Curse of Hobbes
Itís a political question of course, but also a question of reason and
conscience. Since Wolf and I are in positions in which we can evoke
necessary change, however small in the grand scheme of things, we feel
obliged to push for it. Sometimes we have to compromise and have to cut
down on our ideal in order to make the movie happen, but overall we
usually manage to make it work. Also, in our experience, gender-balance
and diversity has a positive effect on the on-set atmosphere. We certainly
had a lot of fun overall and like to think thatís true for everyone else
The $64 question of
course, where can your movie be seen?
US release for DVD and VOD is scheduled for December 15th 2020. Also
The Curse of Hobbes
House will be available in all bigger outlets in the States. A
release in the UK will follow in Spring 2021. Of course due to the current
situation things might have changed by then. You
can check out our website and sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date
on when The Curse of Hobbes
House will be released in your territory:
Anything you can
tell us about audience and critical reception of The
Curse of Hobbes House yet?
has been good so far. We had a few selected reviews upfront and they have
been all very positive. Same goes for the test audiences we showed the
movie to. All this can only tell you so much, though. We just have to wait
and see. By mid December weíll have a better idea, if the general
Any future projects
you'd like to share?
other artists Wolf and I were hit hard by COVID19 business-wise. Shoots
have been postponed and no one really knows when business will go back to
some sort of normality. But weíre keeping our heads up and our hands
busy. Weíre using the time to deepen our connections with the German
film industry. Recently we were granted development funding for two
projects by Nordmedia, the Northern German funding body, and are currently
working on the scripts. So thatís exciting obviously. Still, we canít
wait to be back on set. The next projects that will be going into
production are probably Hobbes
House: The Necromancer,
the sequel to The Curse of Hobbes
and Lyraís Wish,
a Christmas adventure for the whole family.
Your/your movie's website, social
media, whatever else?
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
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The links below
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Anything else you're dying to
mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
fall for the liars and charlatans, but listen to the voices of reason and
science. Yes, sometimes the truth is inconvenient. Times are tough and
scary and everybody is longing for some easy fix. But reality doesnít
work like that. Itís not a movie script. All we can do is wear our
masks, stay calm and look out for each other. Only unity will keep us