'Quar Horror' Explores What's Scary About Staying Home This year feels like a horror movie, and a select group of filmmakers have taken the pandemic as inspiration. "Quar-horror" ranges from homemade shorts on YouTube to a movie filmed entirely on Zoom.
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New 'Quar-Horror' Films Show Staying At Home Is Scary Too

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New 'Quar-Horror' Films Show Staying At Home Is Scary Too

New 'Quar-Horror' Films Show Staying At Home Is Scary Too

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

2020 already feels like a little bit of a horror movie, right? Now some filmmakers have made it official.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTIN: Quarantine-themed horror movies are a thing right now. You can find homemade ones all over YouTube, like this short film where an evil puppet tries to lure a man into leaving the house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) I know it's scary out there now. But, you know...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) No, you don't know. You're not even real.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) OK.

MARTIN: Spoiler - things do not end well for the puppet or the person. And now a new feature film made entirely on Zoom during quarantine is showing on the horror movie channel Shudder. Here's NPR's Neda Ulaby.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: Kenneth Brown is among YouTube's new horror auteurs. His short scary movie "Stay At Home" has racked up about 200,000 views. The New Orleans filmmaker dreamt it up while locked down and bored.

KENNETH BROWN: I literally just grabbed a box, and I set up the camera on a tripod, and I gave myself a scenario.

ULABY: The box appears at night on Brown's doorstep along with a cryptic note.

BROWN: And I just started acting, and the story started to build and build and build.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "STAY AT HOME")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Breaking news today on the coronavirus pandemic...

ULABY: With the evening news as backdrop, Brown decided to film a cautionary tale with some escapism mixed in. Same for producer James Gannon, who's nearly finished his quar-horror movie called "Isolation." It's an anthology - nine different shorts by nine different directors.

JAMES GANNON: You know, this is where our brains went. Instead of making bread, we were like, what can we do with how we're creative?

ULABY: The filmmakers, Gannon says, made their movies at home with family often serving as cast and crew. Each short movie explores different aspects of the pandemic.

GANNON: One of the shorts deals with conspiracy theories and 5G towers. Another short deals with children.

ULABY: Not the horrors of home-schooling them, unfortunately. If you're not a horror fan, a reminder - fans love scary movies as catharsis and as a way to process our fears.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOST")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Is there any one there?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Is there anyone there?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As character) Please come forward.

ULABY: A group of girls hold a virtual seance over Zoom in a new movie called "Host." It's out now on the horror movie channel Shudder.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "HOST")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #7: (As character) What was that?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #8: (As character) OK.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #9: (As character) Amy (ph), was that you?

ULABY: "Host" was filmed in less than 12 weeks during quarantine in the U.K. The whole film was made entirely over Zoom. Director Rob Savage says he instructed the actors over the chat feature occasionally. The cast did their own makeup, lighting and even location-scouted in their own homes.

ROB SAVAGE: The first thing we did is we got them all to film little video tours of their house and to start suggesting what are the places in your house that you feel most creeped out in? Where would you least like to be after dark?

ULABY: But the creepiest place, honestly, is just on Zoom. There were plenty of scares to be milked in the garbled audio and inexplicable dropouts...

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAM ECHOING)

ULABY: ...Or those artificial backgrounds that just seem so uncanny and those strange special effects that put horns or animal noses on people's faces.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #10: (As character) Whoa.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #11: (As character) Emma (ph). Emma, turn the filters off. Come on.

SAVAGE: You know, really, we just had this great opportunity to freak people out doing something that's now a part of their daily routine.

ULABY: When we sit at home, stressed and frightened, Rob Savage says, we need other people. We need their vision, excitement and passion, and we need to see what scares them. Horror movies are one way we talk about our nightmares.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ANTLERS' "DIRECTOR")

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