Andrew Rutter’s latest comedy The Front Door is a horror with a typically British sense of humour. It follows a couple who, whilst going to bed, realise that they forgot to lock the front door. When one of them heads downstairs to lock it, they find a big surprise. What proceeds is a terrific mix of ensuing hilarity and top-notch acting. Rutter manages to cleverly capture the intensity of a break-in whilst poking fun at the overt-seriousness of the occult. Twelve Cabins is delighted to premiere The Front Door on our pages today alongside an interview with Rutter who reveals how he found the perfect balance of horror and comedy for his short film.
How did you come up with the idea for The Front Door?
I’d wanted to make a short horror film for a while and I was asking myself what scares me. However, I had no budget so I wanted to keep everything fairly simple. When I was in high school my house was burgled, they had ransacked my bedroom taking all my things. When I got home from school, the police were there and they had sprayed this stuff around my room to get fingerprints, so you could see all these black finger prints around the room. It truly terrified me that some stranger had been in my room where I slept. I’ve had multiple home invasion nightmares since then over the years so I think it was inevitable I made a film touching upon those themes.
And from then, what attracted you to make a dark comedic short film that takes that concept and blends both horror and comedy?
My attraction to dark comedy with horror has developed naturally over time. One of my favourite films ever is An American Werewolf in London, which balances the two so perfectly, so I guess I’ve started gravitating towards that blend also. I originally intended the short to be a straight forward horror but my mind kept drifting towards the comedy element of the situation. I absolutely love making people laugh, or at least trying to. If done right you also get that instant validation from the audience as you can see a physical and audible reaction, so that’s addictive! Just before I made the film, I’d been to a lot of festivals where they were showing back to back high budget dramas and it was so exhausting to sit through. I think I had a knee jerk reaction to that by wanting to make something quite silly and fun.
When it comes to writing comedy, in particular a horror comedy, what are you striving for in the script? And how do you trust that something will make the audience laugh?
My particular way in to comedy is more so in the absurdity of situations. Reality is so strange, people are even stranger so it’s really fun to draw from real life. Naturally if you’re writing comedy you can only hope to make people laugh. This was my first real dark comedy that would be going in front of audiences so I really had no idea if it was going to land. I figured if it makes me laugh and we don’t overstay our welcome then we should be ok. It premiered at FrightFest in London to a sold out audience and it went down a storm, turning in to one of my favourite festival experiences to this day!
How long did it take to make The Front Door from start to finish? What challenges did you face along the way?
The film was shot all in one long day. There wasn’t a budget so naturally it was about being resourceful and using what we had at our disposal. We filmed it all in my house, which is quite small so having everyone in there turned it in to a sauna. My partner Joanna played Steven’s wife and the bedroom shot is my bedroom! It’s as lo-fi as you can get. I had a whole bunch of friends come in and lend their talents to the film which I’m so grateful for. The biggest challenge was my fridge. We needed the fridge door to open the other way due to the positioning of everything so we could clearly see the Goatman, which is also Joanna by the way! So James and the 1st AC Dan Hunt spent a good half hour taking the fridge door off and putting it on the other side. It’s these things you don’t really account for sometimes on smaller productions and it’s always the weirdest problems that pop up.
How was it casting the film and finding actors that could deliver your brand of comedy?
With this film I had written the characters specifically for 90% of the cast. Chris Butler and Daniel Lipton are long time collaborators so I had no doubts when it came to writing their characters. Chris hadn’t played anything like Jacob before but I knew he would kill it. With Daniel I just enjoy putting him in precarious situations as he’s hilarious. My partner Joanna plays three characters in the film! The wife, the goat and one of the cult members. Brad who plays Steven was the only actor I hadn’t met previously but he slipped in to the role quite easily. I love any excuse to work with my friends in all honesty!
What can we expect from you in the future?
The future has been a wild place so far since making this film. I had made a couple of other short films that are coming out this year, one called Peter the Penguin starring Chris Butler, which played at Slamdance this year and another film called Knock Door Run starring Daniel Lipton which premiered at Aesthetica. Like a lot of people I’ve been trying to stay afloat in the freelance world, but I’m hoping to get back in to making films as soon as possible!