Short Film: “They had to stop the film halfway because someone passed out!” Amelia Moses Reveals All in Body Horror Short ‘Undress Me’

Over the last couple of years there’s been few horror shorts which have got under my skin as much as Amelia Moses’ body horror Undress Me. Moses’ combination of truly uncomfortable practical effects with a clear affection toward horror lore showcases her genre credentials, and finds a new way to tell a familiar story. Moses spoke with Twelve Cabins having just wrapped her debut feature, Bleed With Me, about the lessons she’s learnt, her favourite audience responses to Undress Me and transitional process from shorts to features.

*I should advise at this point that this film is not for the squeamish! You’ve been warned.

What was the genesis for Undress Me?

I knew I wanted to make a body horror film, and at the time I was thinking a lot about the horror trope of having sex leading to dying and I thought those two things could work well together. Once I had the premise it became more about developing the character and the world she inhabited. 

Could you talk about creating the practical effects of the film? 

I was lucky and was able to start working with someone with practical effects experience pretty early on in the script process. So she was able to let me know what was possible on our budget and I could work that into the script. She was able to find really creative ways to do stuff cheaply and effectively which was great! I knew it was an ambitious project and I think the effects really turned out. 
In terms of approach I knew I wanted everything to be practical. The film is obviously inspired a lot by Cronenberg and what I love about his body horror effects (and what makes them so timeless) is it’s less about realism and more about emotion. They become an aesthetic unto themselves. 

I loved the use of zooming throughout, it really brings the audience closer to the uncomfortable events that are transpiring. Was this something you spoke about with your DoP, Rene?

For sure, we definitely talked about zooms pretty early on! To be honest I had just watched ‘It Follows’ and I really loved the camera movement in that film. There’s definitely something unnerving about zoom shots depending on how you use them. 

We’re a couple of years on from Undress Me’s initial release, and you must’ve had some memorable audience responses, do you any in particular stick out?

Yes! The most memorable was probably at a Halloween screening in London – they had to stop the film halfway because someone passed out! 

The film utilities the traditional horror trope of how sex is deemed bad in a really refreshing way. Were there any particular films or filmmakers that inspired you?

I really love the meta-ness in Scream and so I feel like that must have had some form of influence. I think it’s a really interesting trope to engage with or subvert because it says a lot about how women have been portrayed in horror. And then in this particular film it’s kind of examining the social constructs we put on ourselves and the discomfort that can comes with that. 

What can you tell us about your new feature, Bleed With Me?

The film is pretty much done which is exciting and we are aiming for a festival run this year! 
I would say it’s definitely less of a gory film than my short but has some similar themes in terms of examining social dynamics. It’s a psychological horror that focuses on the twisted friendship between two women, set within the classic horror setting of the cabin-in-the-woods. 

What lessons did you take from Undress Me into Bleed With Me?

I would say the the biggest lesson I took from one film to another is to trust my instincts. Good things tend to happen when you do that! Right now, I’m in pre-production on my second feature so I should probably start thinking about what lessons I’ll be bringing to that project! 

If you’d like to send us your film or contribute to Twelve Cabins, contact james@twelvecabins.com for all the details.

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