"Stucco" by Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling

J is trying and failing to move forward. While hanging a piece of art in her new home, she knocks a hole in her wall revealing what might be another room. Her mind races to think what could be on the other side as she continues to unravel, with the scars of old relationships keeping her trapped inside.

This left-of-center short is reminiscent of the slow-burn thrillers of the 70s, using practical effects to conjure the feelings we're least proud of. This is a film about guilt, depression, and the feeling of stasis.

"Stucco" by Janina Gavankar and Russo Schelling

Check out a Q&A with the filmmakers below:

Name a Horror character you relate to on a spiritual/personal level?
J: The entity from ​It Follows​. I feel like the insane, infectious pursuit you have to have, in this industry is monstrous.
R: I’m Jack Torrance at the typewriter.

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
R: I think it’s healthy to write down your bad ideas, even when you know it’s bad.
J: Sometimes we pitch ideas to each other that start with “Ok, so the bad version is...” It’s a great way to start assessing the subtext - what’s ​really​ being said.
R: Oh, remember when we thought maybe it was a flesh-man that was building the throne? It was a hat on a hat, but the idea--
J: Also, just too expensive (laughs).
R: We stripped it down, and realized ​hearing​ it being built actually ratchets up the tension.

Do you consider yourself part of a horror community?
J: I’d never be so presumptuous. We’d be honored to be mentioned as part of it.
R: Very, very, very, much so--
J: Oh, you’re just gonna claim it?
R: Yeah! I used to go to horror conventions in college. Days of the Dead, Horror Hound, etc. The greatest thing about being a horror fan is that there is such a variety. You can get your art house, slashers, b-movies, and found footage.

When you’re building the world of your film, where do you look for inspiration?
J: The parts of ourselves we’re not proud of. So much of “Hollywood” is about pretending to be perfect. The best antidote for these falsities is to look directly down the barrel of the things no one is willing to talk about, freely - guilt, shame, anxiety.
R: I mean, I couldn’t say it any better... so that.

What would you do if you woke up inside of your film?
J: We did! We shot this in my house. I woke up and was staring directly at the hole in the wall, for three days.
R: And I slept in the guest room, behind that hole!

Who would be on your ultimate horror villain squad?
J: The Babadook - great fashion... the questionable vampires from Neon Demon...
R: The Thing. Then everyone you’d ever know was part of the ultimate horror villain squad.
J: Oh that’s way more dope. R: Way scarier.

Lightning round: Freddy or Jason? Stephen King or H.P. Lovecraft? Practical or CGI? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

R: I’ll go Freddy because he has way more fun and he’s meta as fuck. Stephen King because you know I don’t condone racism. Practical. People, ​make real things​ for your movies, it matters. Post Apocalypse. We want to make the live action version of The Last of Us.
J: Freddy. Stephen King. Practical practical practical. Too many brilliant artists out there, ready to work. Actually I say Pre Apocalypse! Shit is terrifying ​right now.

How do you go about creating the props and sets for your film? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
J: We had very detailed conversations about the rules of how this manifestation worked, and how we wanted to make The Throne look beautiful, as well as terrifying. We worked on concept art before sitting with Frank Ippolito, creature maker, and founder of Thingery, Inc.
R: He hand crafted The Tongue, too.
J: We always knew The Throne needed to have human performance, to truly have it come to life, so we had Rafael Casal, Leslie Odom, Jr. and Roby Attal entwine themselves and work together to make it viceral.

What scares you, and does it inspire your storytelling?
J: Me. You. Us. R: Myself.

And finally, Ghostface would like to know ‘What’s your favourite scary movie?’
R: The Thing. ​But I have a confession to Mr. Ghostface. When I was 9 I was sleeping over at a friends house and they rented ​SCREAM o​ n VHS. I wanted to watch it so badly but my parents wouldn’t let me watch something rated R unless they had seen it first. So, I hung out in the hallway and watched at a very poor angle. Catholic guilt robbed me of a very 90s horror experience.
J: ...​Guess we’re renting ​Scream​ tonight.