The Movie Waffler Waffling With...<i>Blackwood</i> director Adam Wimpenny | The Movie Waffler

Waffling With...Blackwood director Adam Wimpenny

We were so impressed with the forthcoming Blackwood that we requested a bit of waffle with the director, Adam Wimpenny. Adam was only too happy to oblige and gave us interesting and enthusiastic responses which discuss the making of Blackwood and also touch upon some of the spooky inspirations behind it.

Blackwood has a distinctively British feel to it, and fits into the canon of British horror very well. Horror is a genre that seems so suited to this country; the heritage, the mists, the landscape. Were there any films you had in mind when you were making Blackwood in terms of atmosphere; any films that were perhaps an influence on your film? If so, in what ways? 
I love films that are thick with atmosphere so when I set out to make Blackwood I wanted to make a moody, chilling film where it drew the viewer into the landscape. Going to the cinema is a sensory experience so I really enjoyed spending time thinking about how I can use the cinematography and sound design to really put the audience into the beautiful wintery locations that we found. As a kid I spent a lot of time watching British ghost stories such as The Amazing Mr Blunden and Watcher in the Woods and later Don’t Look Now and The Shining. I grew up on a moor just off the Pennines and I spent a lot of time surrounded by eerie woods and creepy old houses so I think it’s crept into my DNA!

Ben’s character is such a git. He is neglectful of his wife and child, more concerned with the past that his bountiful present. However, we still stick with him, and have a sympathy for him throughout. Was this balance a challenge to maintain?
Many ghost stories are traditionally about a solid family unit that are pulled apart by some malicious entity, and how they unite again to defeat it. We thought it would be interesting to see what happens to a family that was already coming-apart at the seams and to have a protagonist who had a fragile state of mind at the start. Ed Stoppard who plays Ben had a real challenge as his character is very obsessive and doesn’t realise that his selfish actions are driving his family apart. When we filmed some of the harsher scenes we tried to do multiple takes so we could try and gauge in the edit just how far to take things. Luckily Ed's a charming enough guy to hold onto the audience even when he’s being pretty reprehensible, but it certainly was a balancing act!

This is tricky to discuss without entering into spoiler territory, but I was especially impressed by the film’s structure; how the imagery in the film all pertained to those last moments. Blackwood uses clichés in a fresh and purposeful way. Was this deliberate? Did you have a ‘checklist’ of images to work through?
I think there’s certain tropes of the genre that any audience coming to a ghost story expects to see; slamming doors, eyes peering into key-holes and things going bump in the night. I’ve always loved the genre and wanted to make a ghost story but the truth is that it’s getting increasingly difficult to take it into new places. However, what really appealed to me about Joe Hill’s script is how the film toys with some of those conventions and subverts them into something new when the mystery is finally revealed.  I hope the audience will get a satisfying kick out of watching the pieces of the puzzle slowly fall into place!

Following a varied television career, this is your first feature film, and if it was up to us at least, it most certainly will not be your last. What can we expect from you in the future? Do you hope to explore the horror genre further?
Well I’ve been directing TV since I left University about 15 years ago and making a feature film has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done so yes, I would love to make some more films and I’m in the process of trying to get a new one off the ground. I would love to do more horror. There’s something very satisfying about putting together images and sounds that can create such a visceral, primal reaction as scaring the crap out of someone in a darkened room!

Ok, it's late, a Movie Waffler reader is sitting at home, flicking through his or her VOD provider, willing to take a punt on one film of the many before them. Here’s your chance: why should they choose Blackwood?
They should put on Blackwood because it’s an atmospheric psychological chiller that offers some old-school scares, great performances and has a killer twist. Oh, and my mum is an extra in it.

And there you have it! Blackwood is released on the 23rd February.

Adam Wimpenny was interviewed by Benjamin Poole