When a young man named Ben accidentally stumbles upon an estranged creature he descends into a world of mystery and enigma. Such is the premise for Spencer Young’s thriller Repent Now, an uneasy tale of curiosity and deception. Young’s story is an expansive one, and the director hints at much greater forces at play behind Ben’s narrative which we, for one, would certainly love to see followed up. Twelve Cabins spoke with Young about his ambitious story, balancing comedy and drama alongside horror, and the practicalities of working with a live snake for his mysterious short film.
Where did the idea for Repent Now come from?
The initial idea came to me after reading a tragic news story from Canada about two brothers who were killed in their sleep by a python. The snake had escaped from a pet shop below their flat and crawled through the ventilation system of the building while they slept. This story terrified and fascinated me and it sparked the idea for the basis of the story. I wanted to make a film set in the area that I grew up in, that explored a characters reaction to being provided access Snakes are one of the most common phobias, they’ve been vilified throughout history as representing evil, symbolically they are really potent and people often have strong reactions to them.
You blend elements of horror with drama and comedy. What drew you to create a work which incorporates a mixture of tones?
I’ve always been interested in experimenting with bending genres. While the script for the film wasn’t particularly comedy focused, the concept was pretty off the wall and I felt like it demanded a bit of a tongue in cheek approach. The film explores themes that are also quite common in super-hero movies and I was also influenced by these. The narrative was partly inspired by classic fairy-tales and I used the film as a bit of a tonal experiment, to play with a more heightened style of story-telling.
I’ve never asked this before but could you talk about the practicalities of snake handling? How much of a challenge was it to you in production?
It was winter in London when we shot, which meant that we had to scrap a couple of scenes in which we saw the snake outside. Popeye – the Boa constrictor we used, is originally from the Amazonian jungle and isn’t a fan of crawling along freezing cold canal towpaths in North West London. My producer Kieran Nolan Jones found a great snake wrangler on set called Scott Adams from Exotic Zoo.
How did you approach working with each of your actors to establish their characters?
I wanted the characters to feel quite archetypal, referencing classical mythological and fairytale characters. Due to time and budget constraints we didn’t have any rehearsal time to speak of, and the first time the actors met was on set, but they quickly adapted and threw themselves into their roles.
I really enjoyed how expansive the story felt. Do you think there’s a chance of us being anymore from Ben and Albert?
The film was intentionally quite open ended and a lot of people have commented that the film feels like the beginning of a larger story. I would like to continue the saga! But I think the next one would be from a much darker perspective. I would be interested to explore how Ben is changed by this newfound power at his disposal. Will he use it as a force for good or will he ultimately become corrupted by it?
Are you working in any new films at the moment?
At the moment I’m directing and producing music videos, documentaries and I’ve got some more short films in the pipe-line. You can see some of my work here.