Exclusive Interview with “Room for Rent” Director Tommy Stovall

Room for Rent (opening May 3 in theaters, May 7 on Demand) stars Lin Shaye as a lonely woman who becomes a tad too obsessed with her new housemate. Director Tommy Stovall, who counts Silence of the Lambs as his favourite horror-thriller, tells us where the idea came from and how much harder its becoming to scare an audiences in this day and age.

-PH: It’s getting harder and harder to stir and scare audiences, what do you think the trick is?

-Tommy: I think so. It’s seems everything has been done, so it’s hard to come up with something new. Perhaps the trick is simply to find something to do that’s fresh, but I also think the most important thing is to have compelling characters, which are needed to engage the audience. Everything stems from that.

-PH: How important is sound?

-Tommy: Sound is hugely important, particularly in suspense. Sound can completely change a scene. And I think the lack of sound can make a scene better in some cases.

-PH: From James Wan to Jordan Peele, there’s a new breed of horror filmmaker out there that seems to be giving the others a run for their money – what do you think they’re bringing to their films that others don’t?

-Tommy: I’m not sure I know the answer, but again I think a lot of it has to do with interesting and compelling characters. That’s where it starts.

-PH: Are you a fan of horrors or thrillers, yourself?

-Tommy: I was a fan of the horror movies of the 80’s as a teenager and the movies I made for fun back then were take offs of films like Friday the 13th. I’ve also always been a fan of thrillers and my favorite all time movie to this day is Silence of the Lambs.

-PH: Why do you think you gravitate towards the genre?

-Tommy: There’s a big audience for genre films. I think we all have need to watch movies that have us on edge, for some reason. If done well, a good thriller can be a fun ride.

-PH: Have any of real-life experiences ever inspired one of your movies?

-Tommy: I wrote my first three films myself, and I definitely used real-life experiences in writing the stories and characters. It’s hard not to. Nothing I wrote was ever literally based on anything in particular, but my experiences and people I know.

-PH: Many filmmakers come up with their film ideas in their dreams. Ever had that?

-Tommy: Oh yeah! In fact, I keep a notepad beside my bed on my nightstand to write stuff down. I tend to think of a lot of stuff as I’m trying to go to sleep.

-PH: Who cooked up the idea for Room for Rent?

-Tommy: The writer’s name is Stuart Flack. He’s from England and now lives in Germany. He was interested in the concept of doing a story about a woman who has regrets later in life. Stuart actually came over from Europe during our shoot and was on set the entire time.

-PH: Was Lin Shaye the first choice for the part?

-Tommy: She was indeed. Lin was in two of my other films and I love working with her. She always brings something special and unique to her characters and I thought the complex character of Joyce was one she could really sink her teeth into and she ended up doing just that.

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