Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings had the opportunity to attend the press conference for the gothic thriller, REBECCA, where we had the opportunity to speak with Director Ben Wheatley (High Rise, Free Fire). The film, which is based on Daphne du Maurier’s beloved 1938 gothic novel, features a sweeping romance that quickly turns into horror when a newly married woman finds herself in the shadows of her husband’s first wife, Rebecca. During the interview, Wheatley took the time to discuss the challenges that came with balancing the book’s different genres as well as how his previous films helped him to prepare.
“It was one of the main things that attracted me to this project, to be honest,” Wheatley confessed. “For me, it was like talking to the Golden Age of Hollywood, where the films of the thirties and forties to the fifties would have a song. The leading lady would stand by a piano and someone, a pop star of the day, would play a tune and you [would] think, why did they used to do that? And it kind of [has] to do with this need to give value for money to entertain, you know? And I think that’s in the heart of the book – it’s going to take you through genre to genre to genre. It’s not one film, it’s like four films or five films for the price of entry for one movie.”
Wheatley also went on to explain how switching from each genre helped in giving the audience a sensation of going on a journey. “It gives you that feeling of that you’ve really traveled over time and distance, so by the end of the movie the memories of France are so far away. You have this kind of glowing, warm feeling that you were on holiday a while ago but it’s a very long time ago,” Wheatley stated. “Working through that and policing the tone of it to make sure that it wasn’t too jarring between each section was important. But it felt like we were in du Maurier’s hands as much as anything, so you had faith that it would cohere as it went from section to section.”
Luckily for Wheatley, he was prepared to tackle the multiple genres and themes presented in the book due to his experience in tackling similar issues in his other films. “I think it might have been a worry if I’d not made films before that had the same issues,” explained Wheatley. “I don’t see it necessarily as a challenge, it’s more of a treat to be able to go into those different kinds of environments and play there – to get to do a courtroom drama and the ghost story and an incredible romantic half hour at the top [of the film] was a great treat.”
REBECCA is now available to stream exclusively on Netflix. For more on the film, check out our review here.