‘Unholy Night’ a Frightfully Festive Triumph for Ottawa Filmmakers

While there is no doubt that I love film, I am especially fond of local filmmakers. I have a special place in my heart for not only Canadian filmmakers but also ones from Ottawa. I appreciate the challenges of getting a movie made and think it is great that, once it’s completed, it can be shown at a theatre like The Mayfair here in Ottawa. This Saturday night, a group of filmmakers will experience that feeling as their project Unholy Night premieres in Ottawa.

Unholy Night is a horror/thriller film, but its filmmaking is original and doesn’t feel recycled from other horror films.

Unholy Night is directed by Kristian Lariviere, Chris Chitaroni and Randy Smith. I had the opportunity to watch it and I really enjoyed it. (Please check out my review)

We had the opportunity to speak with one of the directors, Kristian Lariviere.

OLM: Congratulations on the film. What was your inspiration behind this film?

Lariviere: I was making a lot of short films and some friends and I decided to make something collaboratively. We love anthology films, it’s a great way to make a feature without it all being on one teams shoulders. We tossed many ideas along. At first, it was going to be a holiday anthology where every piece was a different holiday, but that was made in the U.S., and we all wanted Christmas, so we said, let’s just do a full one on Christmas.

OLM: What is it about the horror genre that attracts you?

I grew up watching horror movies, especially low-budget ones. The first time I saw Evil Dead 2, I thought, ‘I could do that.’ It seemed achievable. When you watch giant budget movies, that’s out of the realm of possibility, but low-budget horror movies give you a lot of leeway.

OLM: What were some of the challenges that you encountered trying to make this film?

It’s hard. You have to find locations. We had to find a hospital, and that’s challenging because there are patients. We spoke to Algonquin College because they have a training facility, but finally, our producer, Jenn Allanson, found an abandoned medical building in Smiths Falls. That worked out. We had to do a lot of set decorating to make it look like it was being used.

OLM: It doesn’t take a genius to look at your films and realize that you are heavily influenced by Stanley Kubrick. Who are some of the other directors who have inspired you?

Well, you are definitely right about Kubrick—he was a huge inspiration. Also, Sam Raimi. I love Edgar Wright, who did Baby Driver and Shaun of the Dead. I love John Carpenter movies, like The Thing and the Halloween movies. I could go on.

OLM: One of the things I have spoken to other filmmakers about is the frustration around distribution. I know you have a big night at The Mayfair, but what is the plan after that? Are you trying to get into a multiplex like Cineplex, or are you looking at an iTunes release?

That honestly is the biggest challenge. What do you do once your movie is done to get it out there? It was important to have a hometown screening. We would like to do a Festival run. It will probably be a digital release because theatrical releases are so costly.

OLM: I watched your movie and then the trailer, which is rare as I usually do the reverse. I have to say I am generally disappointed with trailers, but I loved the trailer for this film. It was a great tease that didn’t give anything away but enticed me enough to want to see it.

Thank you. I am very touchy about trailers, so I hear you. Especially when you are making a low-budget film that nobody knows about, you want people to see it without giving anything away.

OLM: Let’s do some rapid-fire! What is your favourite movie of all time?

The Shining

OLM: Since you have been taken to horror, do you find your friends acting differently around you?

(Laughs) No, my friends are used to it but people who don’t know me wonder ‘how did you come up with that?’ They have questions after

OLM: At your holiday dinner, will you be offended if people don’t want you carving the turkey because they don’t want you near the knives?

(Laughs) I’m not a good turkey carver. I prefer to let someone look after that anyway.

OLM: What movie would you want to remake that you could direct?

There is an Italian horror film called Susperia, which I loved and which had a big influence on me. I would gladly remake it because it’s not perfect. You don’t want to remake a perfect movie because what could you add to it?

OLM: I couldn’t agree more. Thanks for your time, and good luck with the movie.

Thanks so much.

Unholy Night screens Saturday night at The Mayfair. Check it out