Since director Leigh Janiak focused her first feature, the moody horror film "Honeymoon," on a newlywed couple unraveling, she's had to get used to some people suggesting she has some issues with matrimony. But Janiak, who co-wrote the script for "Honeymoon" with Phil Graziadei, is more than capable of handing them.
How has the festival and junket experience been since debuting in March?
It's all been very weird, generally. And I think that it's all happening so quickly that it's hard to really realize that it's happening until it's done. Certainly SXSW was something that I couldn't anticipate at all. I'd never been to a big film festival period, this was obviously my first feature. I was very happy that we opened the festival so that I didn't have to have those terrible butterflies leading up to it, so that was really good.
How did you approach the film from a budget perspective and how did that influence any of the writing or production decisions?
We had been writing for years and I worked for production companies and was looking to get to that next step. And so when we started writing "Honeymoon," the decision was at the end of this script, we're going to make it. Doesn't matter if we have $10 or $100 million, we're going to make it. So with that in mind, we always wanted to tell a smaller, intimate genre story, and we thought about the kind of films that we love. So going into the script and being aware of possible budget restraints, we were able to utilize that to our advantage and use that pressure-cooker, small, contained situation. I just really wanted to be able to try to execute a small thing well, not try to be bigger than we actually were.
What were some of the influences you looked to in creating this?
"Rosemary's Baby" is the one that I bring up a lot, and I think "the Shining" to maybe a lesser extent. The thing that I love about "Rosemary's Baby" is that we're in a pretty grounded space for most of that film. You spend a lot of time with Rosemary, you get to know her relationship, and because you're so tied to her point of view, when you do get to that fantastical, demonic place, you feel it in a different way, and that was really the approach that I wanted to take with "Honeymoon," was just being with these characters, exploring that. I think that grounded horror is really what interests me, generally.
Do get a lot people suggesting that you might have some unresolved issues related to matrimony or motherhood?
It's funny, sometimes people are like, "You hate marriage." I'm like, "I do? No!" Maybe I do and I don't realize it. (laughs) But I think it's more just about exploring how well you can ever really know another person, whether or not you're married to them or it's a partner or a friend or a parent. I'm interested in that gap between what you present to the world and what is actually happening inside. The notion that you can never really know someone is really what I'm actually skeptical of, not necessarily matrimony.
Great horror also often comes from when you take something nice and warm and comfortable …
And kill it, yeah. For sure. (laughs)
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick