Unrestricted Views from Carl Medland writer and director of The Spiritualist

The amazing Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival is back for its second year, running from the 30th October to the 5th November, and so is our Unrestricted Views bringing you an insight to the people behind the fantastic fright fest of films on show.

Below we talk to Carl Medland writer and director from The Spiritualist which gets its UK premiere on the 5th of November at 6pm. Get your tickets HERE

Love Horror: Tell us about your film?
Carl Medland: I was approached by a film producer Mumtaz Yildirimlar from My Production who was familiar with my work and he asked me to write and direct a horror film for his company. Horror films have always been my biggest passion because of their ability to unsettle an audience and make them confront their fears. It was important that The Spiritualist had a level of substance and offered insights into real horrific situations which I have experienced in my own life.

After my partner became ill in 2015 our world was turned upside down. He lost all confidence and his personality dramatically changed overnight. He became frustrated and irrational with outbursts and altered thinking. He described himself as feeling dead to the world. We both became scared of the unknown and what was happening to him and us. There is seemingly nothing you can do to help and there are no answers you are left with just a paranoid imagination. As the illness progressed so did his symptoms. He lost his short term memory, became delusional, heard voices and often woke in terror, thinking there were people in the room stood around the bed trying to harm him. His fear was an all too familiar area that I could personally connect with. I have suffered night terrors regularly throughout my adult life. Like me and thousands of others, he would wake up paralysed, hearing and seeing other entities in the room. This led me to question, was this a consequence of his illness, or was he engaging with his spiritual self? Either way, I became curious about the parallels between mental illness and spirituality.

These were the beginnings of the film. Like psychics, some sufferers of mental illness or trauma have heightened sensory powers and are able hear voices and see alternative realities. In many cases, this can lead to those sufferers becoming ostracised as they attempt to come to terms with their new beliefs and their new reality. After a year searching for answers we now have a diagnosis – Morvan’s Syndrome. It’s a very rare and frightening disease. Some of Dominic’s outbursts and his delusions I understood at the time as unreasonable. I’ve now arrived at a position where I am able to give more compassion and understanding to these symptoms. ‘Get a grip’ is a phrase you would never say to someone suffering with cancer. Yet this is one of the most commonly used phrases to sufferers of mental illness. It’s a worryingly grey area that is underfunded and misunderstood. By using these themes as a back drop to a horror film, I’m intending to put a spotlight on a subject matter that is too often kept in the dark. Whilst being sensitive to the causes, I don’t want to shy away from the horror that victims and carers face on their isolating journey into the recesses of mental illness.

I first came across the Manor at the Cannes film festival when I saw a trailer for an adaptation of Ibsen’s Heddar Gabler. The Manor was used as the principal location and I quickly fell under its spell of Gothic charm and beauty. We contacted the location and visited Michael Chittenden the owner. It rapidly became clear to us that we wanted to shoot the film there. After that, we spent a few days living at the Manor and became increasingly drawn to the place. Once back in London, the script began to write itself. Buildings and architecture have always fueled my writing and those three days at the Manor were some of the most inspiring I’ve ever had.

Love Horror: How did you get into making horror movies?
I used to hire video cameras as a child and shoot horror movies with my friends and family, I was into special effects and used to subscribe to Horizons and Fangoria magazine, my bedroom wall was covered in all the posters of the monsters and special effects. I guess I just love frightening people and being scared.
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Love Horror: What is your view on horror in 2017 and how would you change it?
Although we seem to be revisiting horror classics like It, Flatliners and Rings, I do love it when we explore themes more ordinary and relatable like Get Out did. I feel there needs to be more films that face real life horror situations that effect people which is why I choose a real personal horror I was dealing with, being a sole carrier having a partner with mental illness,

Love Horror: What is your favourite horror film and why?
There are too many films to choose from and it depends on my mood. A few to give a shout out is Elm St, Friday the 13th, The Burning, Flat-liners, Saw, Sixth Sense, The Conjuring and Insidious.

Love Horror: If Hollywood came knocking and gave you anything you wanted what movie would you make and who would it star?
I would love to make a film with all the horror legends that are gone but not forgotten, reunite them if money can’t make this happen, and I’m not so keen on CGI resurrection so I’ll settle for a poltergeist film, but make it very naturalistic and unassuming.

The Spiritualist gets its UK premiere on the 5th of November at 6pm.
Read more about the Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival and buy tickets at www.unrestrictedview.co.uk/

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