Horror Favourites – Rupert Jones

Garnering critical acclaim on its theatrical release, one of Britain’s greatest actors of today Toby Jones ‘glows’ (The Guardian) as the lead in Kaleidoscope, a bleak, nightmarish psychological thriller written and directed by brother Rupert Jones in his feature film debut.

This intense thriller ‘adds a decidedly 21st century bent to Hitchcockian suspense’ (Spectrum Culture) and is set to arrive on UK digital platforms on 12 August 2019, followed by its DVD release on 23 September 2019. The cast includes Sinead Matthews (Jellyfish), Cecilia Noble (Danny and the Human Zoo) and a stand out turn fromnational treasure Anne Reid, MBE (Last Tango in Halifax).

A sparse, drab flat, on a housing estate in London, loud frantic knocking and a dog barking. We meet Carl Woods (Toby Jones – Don’t Forget the Driver, Detectorists, Tinker Tailor, Soldier Spy), an ex-prisoner with dreams of starting a gardening business, as he’s abruptly awoken from his sleep on the sofa. He goes to the door…no-one is there. Exploring the house, he notices lipstick traces on a glass, an ashtray full of cigarette butt she goes upstairs and finds a shocking discovery: a dead body in the bathroom. But is everything as it seems?

As the narrative twists and turns we follow Carl’s footsteps as he chats with his neighbour Monique (Noble), prepares for his first date in 15 years with someone he met online, Abby (Matthews) and gets a message announcing an impending, unwanted visit from his overbearing mother (Reid)… With time running out, Carl’s relationship with his mother and the ramifications of his night with Abby now collide in dramatic, surprising, unforgettable ways.

Below Kaleidoscope’s writer and directer Rupert Jones tells us all about his favourite horror films:

“I wouldn’t usually describe myself as a horror fan, but it’s fair to say that many of those early, illicit encounters with the genre make for the most searing cinematic memories.

I guess the televised Hammer Films would be my earliest brush. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in black cloaks and bloody fangs. I don’t remember being frightened by these, but I bet I was. More traumatising perhaps was seeing my father, Freddie Jones, having his brain removed in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed.

Of that era, Theatre of Blood was a film full of great character actors that I remember loving.
Vincent Price despatching his critics: Robert Morley eating his dogs; Arthur Lowe losing his head. From the age when was I first able to procure horror on VHS, fourteen or fifteen, the films that come to mind are The Deadly Spawn, The Omen, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Hills Have Eyes, The Thing. The Omen made a mark. But The Thing was a class apart. The two abiding images being the ‘spider head’ and the guy forcing his hand into the other guy’s mouth. There was always something more affecting about horror that had some measure of plausibility about it – while the spider head was a vision of horror, it was also comedic; whereas the hand in the mouth was somehow more visceral, more relatable.

At around that time, I was desperate to see Friday Third Part 3 (in 3D!) at the cinema – the 3D didn’t work on VHS. Erroneously, I’d been sent a polling card with which I tried to bluff my way as an eighteen year-old. When the usher asked me to prove that the name on the card was mine, my only recourse was a school nametag sewn into my underpants. So there, in the foyer of the Oxford Odeon, I directed the usher to the back of my pants, which I hoicked up for him to see. I was in! I can remember an eye-ball popping out at me. But little else.

If Friday Thirteenth seemed implausible, Alien didn’t. It’s a serious and beautifully crafted movie full of great actors. Eminent in its restraint, pacing and suspense. Horror often runs into the problem of anti-climax when a film feels obliged, finally, to show you thing you’ve been dreading to see. Alien never quite allows you to grasp the monster whole. It does and it doesn’t. By the later Alien films, there are bands of monsters swimming underwater and it’s all gone daft.

There are some directors one associates with the tropes of horror without being regarded as an exponent per se. Lynch has the ability to invest menace in almost anything – a curtain, a paddling pool, the corner of the room. Much of the early Polanski is uniquely unsettling. The Tenant, a film I saw too young, was a key influence on Kaleidoscope. As was Don’t Look Now. And, of course, Hitchcock who did so much to refine the grammar of film with his keen understanding of – and ability to manipulate – what the audience is feeling. It’s hard to think of a genre that owes more to him than horror.

Things that come to mind as I sign off: Les Diaboliques, Nosferatu, Let The Right One In, Berberian Sound Studio, The Others, The Village. Yes, I liked The Village. I see I’ve not mentioned one film directed by a woman. This, I fear, is as much a testament to my ignorance as the profoundly skewed – but hopefully evolving – dictates of the industry at large.”

Kaleidoscope is on digital VOD platforms from 12 August 2019 and on DVD and Blu-ray from 23 September.

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