Interview: Director Craig Moss

For the release of the new thriller from Freestyle Digital Media, THE CHARNEL HOUSE, we had the chance to speak with director Craig Moss about the horror genre and what it was like being able to work with his daughter on his latest film. 

Shannon McGrew:  Hi Craig, thanks so much for speaking with me today!  To start things off, for those not familiar with your latest film THE CHARNEL HOUSE, can you tell us a little bit about it? 

Craig Moss: Of course!  THE CHARNEL HOUSE is about a slaughterhouse back in the day that ultimately gets re-gentrified over and renovated by a British architect.  He turned it into this amazingly high-tech loft-type building and a bunch of tenants, along with himself, his wife, and his daughter, move into the building.  There's a lot of things that start happening within the building from those slaughterhouse days that begin rearing their ugly head while everyone is living in this place.  

SM: What was it about the script, written by Emanuel Isler and Chad Israel, that made you want to direct this film? 

CM: Well, when I read the script it sort of reminded me of some of the films from 30-40 years ago.  It had this sort of intellectual side to it that I haven't read in a lot of material and I loved that aspect of it and I knew there was a lot of cool things we could do with that material.  In addition, I loved the idea of this haunted location, but not your typical old, decrepited, broken down location, but one that was polished and pristine and high tech.  It just seemed interesting to me that something like this could happen in a place like that. 

SM: You've done a lot of films that range from horror to comedy to thriller.  What is it about the horror genre that keeps you wanting to come back? 

CM: I started off doing comedies and the great thing about a comedy is it's sort of this timing thing where you set up and pay off the joke.  Whether we are doing suspenseful films or horror films it's sort of the same rhythm where you are setting up a scare with the payoff of the scare. What I like about this genre is the idea that I was able to do a lot of interesting things visually, more-so than you would do in a comedy.  The use of camera tells the story a lot more in this specific genre and it allowed me to do a lot of things I wanted to do in film.  

SM: Have you always been a fan of horror?

CM: I've always loved it.  When I was younger, we had something called Z Channel, which was something we had in LA.  It was this box filled with a bunch of movies, all hours of the day, it was the early years of cable, so I was able to watch movies like THE SHINING and THE OMEN. I'm like 7, 8 years old watching these films, scared to death, but found them incredibly interesting and intriguing at the same time.  So it kind of jump started me at an early age to appreciate and like the genre. 

SM: What was the casting process like for THE CHARNEL HOUSE?  Did you have anyone specifically in mind for the roles? 

CM: It was interesting because we got financed for the film in the eleventh hour and we knew we had to shoot this in a specific time frame so we had our list of people we wanted to go to prior to that.  We really knew first and foremost casting the lead for this, with Alex, and we knew we wanted Callum Blue.  He was first on our list and we met with him and he turned out to be just a great guy and loved the material so we were able to cast him.  We had my daughter, who just got off doing a film called STEVE JOBS with Danny Boyle, to play the role of Mia in the film.  She was the one who helped me get the job, they said "look, if we can cast her we will hire you" (laughs), I'm kidding.  Ironically, the producer of the film, after hiring me, had mentioned seeing STEVE JOBS and seeing this little girl and I said, well that happens to be my daughter.  She read for the role of Mia and it just worked out so I got to cast my daughter and it was a terrific experience working with her.  Nadine Velazquez, who plays the mom Charlotte Reaves, was terrific and she loved the script as well. We also had Danielle Lauder, Andy Favreau, and Erik LaRay Harvey who is in a very popular series on Netflix right now called "Luke Cage" who is terrific in the movie.  We also got a gentleman named Joe Keery who people make recognize from "Stranger Things".  We kind of got lucky with the casting, but overall they all just gave great performances and were just terrific. 

SM: What can we look forward to from you in the future?  Would you like to stay in the horror genre or are you breaking off to do more comedies? 

CM: I love both in all honesty.  I would love to do horror, suspenseful thriller, psychological thrillers that entire hodge podge of genres or subgenres is very exciting for me so there's a few projects that I would love to get made that fit into that genre.  I also love comedies, action-comedies, which I'm shooting one very soon with a guy that I love to shoot films with, a guy named Danny Trejo.  So I love working on those but it's nice to move from one to the next and be able to do both because it kind of keeps it fresh and different in their own way.

SM: Well thank you so much for speaking with me Craig.  We loved the film and look forward to seeing continued success from you in each genre that you work in!  For those interested in THE CHARNEL HOUSE it is now available in numerous VOD platforms and iTunes