Have you ever had the feeling you’re being watched? The little hesitation as you pass the open basement door. The look you throw over your shoulder at that dark hallway. The glance into the backseat. Nothing is there this time, but what if next time there is? What will you do?
In writer/director Frank Sabatella‘s new film THE SHED, Stan discovers something dark and dangerous living in the shed behind his house. With bullies waiting for him at school and a monstrous terror at home, can Stan and his friends foil the beast and make it out of high school alive?
This week, I got the chance to talk with Frank about monsters, horror, and his delightful new film.
It’s clear from your work that you’re a true horror fan. What made you fall in love with the genre?
Frank Sabatella: Everybody asks me that, and I don’t have an actual answer. As far back as I can remember, I’ve been into monsters and horror. Ever since I was a child, it’s just been the natural order of things. I think it started very young, watching monster movies with my dad on a Sunday afternoon. [That’s] something I seem to have some early memories of. So maybe it started there, [watching] Dracula and The Wolf Man, and stuff like that.
When did you decide to take that step from loving the genre to wanting to tell your own stories inside it?
Frank Sabatella: I have monster stories that I wrote in second grade. I think I was a naturally creative kid, as well. I would write monster stories and draw monster pictures. Again, it was just always with me. So as I grew up, my stories and my writing became a passion. I was always a writer in high school, and I continued to write [as an adult] and most of my subject matter was dark. I was also a photographer, so visual storytelling has been part of my life as well. I’m just bringing together all the things that I love about life. It’s monsters. It’s creative writing. It’s visual. It’s just kind of naturally all comes together.
A monster in a shed is such an archetypal fear. How did the idea for this story develop?
Frank Sabatella: So the initial idea of the vampire in the shed was a short story idea a film school buddy of mine wrote named Jason Wright. I had always liked that core concept. I called up Jason and I asked him if he would mind if I wrote a feature based on that concept and expanded it into a broader concept, and he was totally cool [with it]. He was excited about it. I basically took to the idea of just a monster in a shed and started looking at it as a metaphorical device for the inner monster in us.
I was wondering if your monsters were metaphorical.
Frank Sabatella: I think, whether we know it or not, that’s why we love monsters. I don’t want to sound too deep or pretentious, but it’s like campfire tales. We like the idea of being scared. I think it enables us to put a tangible handle on the more frightening aspects of ourselves.
THE SHED deals with the real-life horror of bullying. What made you want to tackle that topic?
Frank Sabatella: It’s not a topic I initially set out to directly approach, but I think through the writing process it just started to emerge and started to make sense. I think when you’re writing early drafts of a story you may not know exactly what your story is. You don’t know who your characters are. They’re people that don’t exist, and you kind of just meet them.
I think it grew progressively from there. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of misfit kids and abused neglected kids. Exploring that theme [became the] logical conclusion. I started realizing that in our current times we see a lot of this bullying in so many different forms and the horrible outcomes that [it can] lead to [in] one way or another.
If you had to take on one kind of monster in real life what would it be and why?
Frank Sabatella: I think I could take out a werewolf if I had to. I could do it from a distance as long as I could get my hands on a silver bullet. If I had to fistfight a werewolf, I’m not sure I would win that battle. That would be way harder.
*This interview was edited for clarity and length.
THE SHED arrives in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD on November 15, 2019. For more about the film, check out our review here.