Created as a Proof of Concept for a feature film, Brian Ivie’s Flesh and Blood feels like if The Exorcist was shot by Mike Flanagan. But don’t let that ‘Proof of Concept’ label put you off, Ivie’s short easily holds its own with dreamlike cinematography and gripping performances. It follows a young woman as she navigates the history behind her mother’s death inside a mental asylum – always fervent soil for a deliciously unsettling horror film. So, here’s hoping we get to see this story expanded in the near future into the feature it deserves. Twelve Cabins spoke with Ivie about his intentions for the feature, and his fondness of character-driven horror.
What inspired the concept of a daughter investigating her mother’s death in an asylum?
This story actually went through a lot of drafts before I came to that idea. But I love character-driven horror films. I’m not really into slashers. So, when it came to the idea of Jade, I wanted to explore somebody who grew up as a fundamentalist or a “fundy.” That’s where it started. I think a lot of people have that kind of complicated religious experience. But then I thought, what if the mother was not only a fundamentalist, but also committed to an asylum for taking it too far? As a result, Jade, her daughter, grows up thinking all religion is bullshit, and has to work through that in the story. Her mother’s death then becomes the catalyst for her to deal with her pain, not just with the monster.
The cinematography feels really dreamlike. What did you shoot on, and how did you work with your DoP to create it?
We shot on the Alexa LF and the Alexa mini. I wanted to shoot film, but it just wasn’t in the cards. The hazy quality you’re talking about was intentional though. My DoP Chris Leclerc and I wanted the story to feel like a memory. Because, of course, Jade is dealing with her most painful memory that of her mother’s death. I come from the documentary space so I’m always trying to bring the viewer into some kind of pain. That’s how I connected with the story. My DP and I spent a lot of time going to the location and mapping out every shot. On the day, we were pretty much just doing what we rehearsed over and over again. I don’t like shooting from the hip.
What is it that excites you about making specifically a horror film?
A lot of things. I love getting people to lean into the story because they “have to know” what’s going to happen, that kind of thing. I also love that the genre allows you to be minimalistic without losing the audience. You have one actor in one room, but there’s also a monster, get it? And honestly, I think I also love how it allows me to explore my own religious experience. I’ve always found horror to be one the few places where you can turn religion into a form of poetry.
I read that you see Flesh and Blood as a proof of concept? What elements of it would you be seeking to expand on and explore in a feature?
Yes, that’s the plan. Obviously, I wrote the short to end as a cliffhanger on purpose. The feature will go even deeper into Jade’s relationship with her mom and their experiences in this religious commune in California. The feature will also spend a lot more time in the mental asylum where she died. I have some pretty fun ideas for how to scare people. And to get them to think about their own family. Hence, the title of the picture.
Can we expect any more horror projects from you in the future?
As I mentioned, I’m a documentarian first and foremost, but I’m writing another horror script right now that’s kind of like The Exorcist meets The O.C. But seriously. It would be a mostly Japanese cast too, which is a big part of my heritage. I can’t get this one out of my head, so I’m probably going to shoot at least the short version next year. I promise you won’t see where this one is going.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I’m working on my debut feature film. It’s a drama in the vein of The Hurricane. Not a horror film, but definitely something I believe in. I’m hoping that takes off next year.
Flesh and Blood was programmed by the Twelve Cabins submissions team. If you’d like to see your film on our pages, submit here.