For those of you who still don’t fear the boogeyman, I’ve got the perfect movie that shows why fearing the darkness under your bed is necessary – Steven C. Miller’s Under The Bed. Blending the heartfelt bonding of a family horror film with the absolute insanity of a gory creature feature, Miller’s film is one of the most underrated horror flicks of the year so far, and one I’m hoping I can spread the word about as quickly as possible. Not only should you try and catch Miller’s Under The Bed, but you should be on the lookout for anything this guy’s name is attached to. People always discuss rising stars in horror, and there’s no doubt in my mind that Miller’s name belongs towards the top of that list.
Ever since Steven responded via Twitter to one of my very first reviews (Silent Night), I’ve been dying to get an interview with him. Well, you can cross another name off my list, because today I had the pleasure of interviewing Steven mano y mano, and it was an absolute blast. Not only did we discuss his enchantingly creepy film Under The Bed, but we touched upon our love for Red Lobster’s cheddar-infused biscuits, Steven revealed his thoughts on using Twitter as a filmmaker, we talked about the importance of practical effects in horror, and he also gave some updates on a few upcoming projects. I hope you enjoy the conversation!
We Got This Covered: Alright Steven, I have to ask a very serious question first. I follow you on Twitter, and we had a little exchange about a discovery you made while buying groceries. Tell me, how many boxes of the Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuit Mix are currently in your house as of now?
Steven C. Miller: Dude, I bought four because I’m a fucking maniac. For some reason, that’s the only reason I even go to Red Lobster half of the time. It was important that I stock up because I’ve got to teach my kid these are the best biscuits around.
We Got This Covered: [Laughing] There you go Red Lobster, a little promo for yourself. Ok, getting to Under The Bed – atmosphere was everything. Was it hard for you to hold the big reveal of your creature until later in the film? Didn’t you want people to see him from the very first second?
Steven C. Miller: Oh yeah. It’s difficult when you have a creature you feel is worthy to show. Obviously it picks the pace up, but at the same time, I felt like if I did hold back, I thought the payoff would be so extreme that the audience might actually enjoy it more. If we were going to hold it, the payoff had to be big. It had to be something grand the first time we saw the monster. It was a double-edged sword, but ultimately we just decided to wait because Under The Bed is really a movie about these brothers, and I wanted to make sure I got that across first.
We Got This Covered: Were there any reservations about killing children on screen? Some younger cast members meet some pretty grisly fates, and I know how much of a family man you are from your Tweets – did you ever think twice about the younger deaths?
Steven C. Miller: Yeah, it’s always the first thought of “Is this too extreme? Is this too much?” I just went with the gut feeling from before that if I was going to reveal this creature, I wanted to do it in a way people would remember. Plus, I felt like these kids were bratty enough at the time that you were sort of rooting for the creature to do it anyway. [Laughs] Obviously there’s a reservation, but I also feel like from a movie standpoint, and from when I grew up watching movies in the 80s, and even cartoons – I remember Tom [from Tom and Jerry] ripping the skin off of Jerry sometimes! There’s stuff like that which was so much harsher back when I was watching compared to what’s on TV now, so I really don’t think it’s much more extreme than anything I watched when I was 14 or 15. The film is really geared towards kids in that range, and I think it’s acceptable.
We Got This Covered: Did the child actors have fun with their death scenes?
Steven C. Miller: Oh man, they had a blast. I think the parents had more fun than the kids did, which was weird, but they had a really great time. They were excited. I think the first time they saw it at a premier screening they just went nuts. They had all their little buddies in there, so you hear all their friends just going crazy, so it was definitely fun for them. At least for being one of their first movies, that’s a great experience.
We Got This Covered: Did any director inspire you on this film? I felt a little bit of Joe Dante in the story myself.
Steven C. Miller: Yeah, I’m a huge fan of Joe Dante. Gremlins, The Gate, even movies like Little Monsters, Goonies, Poltergeist – I loved all those movies where kids took on adult problems and adult themes while being left to their own devices. Adults don’t believe them, and I think those were the kind of movies I gravitated to when I was little. They were always the kind of movies I wanted to make. I definitely pulled big inspirations from that and tried to infuse them into this movie, giving it a little bit of a nostalgic feel.
We Got This Covered: I really appreciate your use of practical effects not only in Under The Bed, but going back to Silent Night and all your other films as well. What do you think of the overuse of CGI we’re seeing in the genre now, cheapening some special effects work now?
Steven C. Miller: It’s curious. Well, it’s funny because I think the overuse of it is to the advantage of practical effects guys. For a movie like this, kids have been stuffed with CGI for the past ten years, and then seeing something like this on screen, it’s almost like us seeing practical effects for the first time. These kids are getting to see effects for the first time, and I think that’s pretty interesting. As much as CGI has hurt a lot of things, I think it’s starting to turn around and help the people who love practical, so they can show these kids something they’ve never seen before. CGI is great, and it can be used the right way to enhance things, but in my movies we haven’t even enhanced anything. We’ve only used practical – it’s just something I love to do. We have a great team of guys, like Vincent J. Guastini, who created the creature, and it’s done really well for me so I continue to do it.