When a couple rent a suspicious bootleg on their first date things take a turn for the worst. Matt Rosenblatt’s short film Movie Night is an exercise in unsettling tension. What begins as a typical first date quickly becomes something much more sinister. Rosenblatt captures the date through gazing, voyeuristic cinematography which alludes to the unsettling truth that’s really at play. Twelve Cabins spoke with the Director about the influences he drew from to make Movie Night in addition to lessons in self-confidence he learnt in bringing it to life.
How was the concept for Movie Night born?
I had been having dreams about getting a video tape in the mail that would end up having footage of myself being murdered by myself. Which I thought was kind of creepy, so I guess that it where it all started from there it evolved into more an attempt of making a fairly realistic true crime/horror movie with the modern world dating backdrop. I wanted to try and make something that was relatable for anyone stuck in the online dating scene because it can be awkward and truthfully potentially dangerous when you think about it.
The cinematography of the is really bold and impressive, who did you work with on shooting the film and how did you want it to look?
Carson Bailie was the cinematographer and he was who I worked with in addition to our Gaffer Christian Baker. We wanted to make things feel voyeuristic, as if the characters were being watched at all times. We wanted things to look fairly natural as well. Nothing too stylized. As far as inspirations go though, we were definitely inspired by Cache, It Follows, House of the Devil, and The Ring.
How did you work with your actors to get them in the headspace for their characters and the tension unfolding around them?
Natali and Skeeta were both amazing to work with. They made the whole experience easy from start to finish. I wouldn’t say there was a lot I needed to do to get them in the headspace. We all just discussed the context of the evening and how they got in the positions they’re in. We just wanted to try and be as natural as possible in terms of reactions. I feel with their situation you would have a great deal of confusion and bewilderment in your mind. So I didn’t want to run emotions too high until it was too late for them.
How was the shoot in general? Did you face any challenges in bringing the film to life?
This was honestly the smoothest shoot as a director I have had. I think that is a testament to everyone who worked on Movie Night, everyone was just on top of it. We had a quick turnaround with this one. I think we shot in October and it was wrapped in January or February. We faced some challenges, the ending scene was originally blocked out very differently but we just had production limitations that prevented us from getting our original ending to be perfect. Our earlier cuts were about two or three minutes longer initially as well. It would provide a little more context to the atmosphere of the date. We just found it bogged the pacing of everything greatly so we decided to cut the beginning in favour of the movie feeling quicker.
Similarly, given that you’re early in your career as a filmmaker, what lessons did you learn that you’ll take into your next film?
I’m always learning from every movie I am a part of. I find at least 100 things to do differently or not to do for my next project. It is a continuous growing process for me. I think the thing I am always trying to get better and better at is being more sure of myself as a creative. I tend to let myself be overly collaborative sometimes in favour of having creative relationships with people, and while it is good and needed to be collaborative, I find that this hinders myself from being creative at times. It is something I have become more self-aware about within myself. I just want to find the right balance of it all.
Speaking of, will you return to horror? If not, what are you making next?
I will return to horror for sure, it is the genre I am most in love with and the one that got me started in wanting to be a filmmaker. My next project is actually another horror, it will be my first attempt at a feature-length story and I am just as excited about it. It is a slasher/home invasion-type of movie with a Christmas backdrop. It is one I have had in my mind for a long time now and I am just putting all my energy into that now.