When a middle-aged couple seeking spontaneity find themselves off course in thick woodland, they encounter a force beyond their comprehension. A haunting premise but Hannah George’s Don’t Walk successfully blends a darkened atmosphere with a healthy dose of typically British comedy. Echoing the tonal sensibility of Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers, Don’t Walk is bound to generate as many laughs as it is frights. We spoke with George about the film’s creation ahead of its world premiere at FrightFest this weekend.
How’re you feeling about the FrightFest premiere?
We’re really excited to have got into FrightFest, I remember going to their shorts screening a couple of years ago and thinking ‘one day I’d love to have a short in this festival’ and here we are!
What inspired the concept for Don’t Walk?
My co-writer, and co-star of the short, Toby Williams and I went on a walking holiday and there was a self published book of walks in the AirBnB and we followed a map and it took us to the creepiest, most remote location and we just thought… what if the guy from the cover of the book walked out from behind a tree, having lured us there…
How did you balance the comedy with horror in the film? Were you ever concerned about audiences not finding it funny or tense?
I love comedy-horror as a genre, but you’re right, it’s all about balance. As we were shooting on such a tight budget, the one thing that was free was the comedy, the script, the performances, that’s stuff that didn’t cost us anything extra and hopefully we got it right! If we get to make Don’t Walk into a feature I’m really excited about potentially having the budget to up the horror-elements of the film. For example, having a real physical monster using practical effects and being able to afford night shoots.
Were you inspired by any particular films or filmmakers? Ben Wheatley’s Sightseers came to mind when I was watching.
I love Ben Wheatley and there’s no denying Sightseers was an inspiration, I love the aesthetic of the British countryside, beards, waterproof clothing and a lot of gore! I’m also constantly inspired by the short films I see at various film nights across London, notably Mr Tibbs short film night and Shooting the Breeze, the night run by co-star of Don’t Walk, Rachel Stubbings.
Did the shoot prove much a challenge in the woodland?
We shot it in November which was… foolish. However if we didn’t shoot it then, we’d planned to re-schedule for April, which turned out to be slap bang in the middle of lockdown. So, really we were lucky, although there was torrential rain and gale force winds on the two days we were there, but actually I don’t think you can really notice it much in the film!
What does the future look like for you?
We’re developing Don’t Walk into a feature and I have another feature currently in development. Otherwise, I’m writing on lots of TV shows, and recording my true crime podcast Drunk Women Solving Crime.