Him Indoors is a short film which is currently showing at festivals around the world. It’s creating somewhat of a sensation, containing as much humor crammed into its short running time as most sitcoms manage in a season. The humor is as dark as a blood-stained carpet and there’s enough gruesome references scattered throughout to keep the genre fans playing a Horror version of “Where’s Waldo” with the figurines and statues on the shelves. It’s clear that writer/director Paul Davis (Beware the Moon) knows his stuff. There’s even a nod to Nightmares in a Damaged Brain, which you certainly don’t see every day.
Reece Shearsmith (Shaun of the Dead) and the delightful Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman) star. The short had its second UK showing at Grimmfest in Manchester a few weeks ago and I was there to talk to Pollyanna about her role in this feature, her work on The Woman, and her plans for the future.
This is Colin McCracken for Scars Magazine and Zombiehamster.com, very happy to be here with Pollyanna McIntosh.
POLLYANNA McINTOSH: Good to meet ya!
You too! Just to begin we are here at Grimmfest in Manchester and we are just about, in about 45 minutes or so to go see Him Indoors.
McINTOSH: Oh My God is it that soon?
So Pollyanna, can you tell us a little bit about the movie itself?
McINTOSH: Yeah; it’s a dark comedy, it’s fifteen minutes long and it’s Paul Davis’ narrative debut. He made a documentary Beware the Moon about An American Werewolf in London which ended up winning an award and was also on the extras for the DVD for that film. He’s a massive horror fan and it’s just a very smart little movie with myself and Reece Shearsmith from League of Gentlemen and Psychoville and lots and lots of movies. He is an agoraphobic serial killer, so he’s a serial killer that can’t leave his house and it makes the killing a little bit harder. Especially since his Mum died and doesn’t bring him victims anymore. Luckily for him, I’m his very nosy neighbor and where he is incredibly socially awkward and disinterested in being close to people unless, you know, he is up to his tricks, I just kind of want to be all over him and all around him and find out what he’s all about. I get right in his face and I get to play, much closer to myself, kind of an obnoxious, how would you say it… someone with verbal diarrhea, who is all chatty and smiley all the time. I won’t tell you what happens!
Please don’t! How did you become to be involved in the movie?
McINTOSH: In the most wonderful way an actor can hope to be involved in something; I was just asked to do it. Paul had seen The Woman and with producer James Pierce, who is only 22 years old and has already produced a couple of shorts incredibly well. He is definitely one to watch. He just contacted my agent and my agent said, “Oh there’s this thing; I don’t think you’ll want to do it. There’s not much money, it’s a short piece.” And I said, “Well what is it about and who is in it?” He said he would send it on to me and as soon as I saw Reece Shearsmith’s name it just leapt off the email and I thought, “Well I’ve got to see what this is about because if Reece is doing it, you know it’s going to be interesting.” And it was! It was just great.
How long did it take to shoot?
McINTOSH: I have no concept of time! (Laughs) I don’t know! It was probably August time. When was Fright-Fest?
Fright-Fest was in August.
McINTOSH: Ok so it was two and a half weeks before Fright-Fest and that’s how fast they edited it and got it together and got it in the festival.
Wow! Have you had many screenings since Fright-Fest?
McINTOSH: That has been the only one so far would you believe–or maybe there have been a couple of festivals I haven’t been able to make it to, I’m not sure if this is the second, but there has not been many, it’s very recent, so it was Fright-Fest and now it’s kind of doing the circuit . This is my first attendance to a festival outside of Fright-Fest with it.
Brilliant. So you will be able to see the reaction from the crowd!
McINTOSH: Yes, and then we are going to take it to Leeds Film Festival as well and to a few other genre festivals. It’s already got a Video-On-Demand release as well so people seem to like it.
Excellent, and for the Video-On-Demand and things like that if people want to find out a little bit more about the movie where can they go to?
McINTOSH: Go to the website Himindoors.com or Google “Him Indoors,” “Reece Shearsmith,” or “Polly Anna McIntosh.” Yes do that one, and you will be able to find out the Facebook page also. There’s a trailer online too which is really fun.
Well we are really looking forward to that, but, in addition I couldn’t get away without asking you about a movie that you are very famous for which is Lucky McGee’s The Woman. I wanted to ask you if you aware that this movie is still gaining momentum, that people are still taking about it and it seems to be getting more and more popular?
McINTOSH: That’s so nice, thank you. Yes it seems to be a film that people have really taken to their heart, if you can take a feral, bloody cannibal to your heart. I have been really moved by the response from people and all of a sudden I’ve little messages on Facebook saying how much they loved the film. Working with Lucky McKee was such an honor. I just love that man, he’s a dude you know, and he’s made a great movie. I’m excited for when people see it for the first time because it’s really an unusual film and if you don’t like it, fine, but you can’t help but notice this movie. It has a strong effect.
It certainly does. Your performance was just so visceral, raw and aggressive and I was wondering what did you have to channel to bring that out?
McINTOSH: I think we’ve all got that inside us you know, we were all hunters once and I read a wonderful book called The Origin Of Myth which talks about when and where we started telling stories from, and how much of the human story comes from the fact that we are hunters. I won’t go into it because it just sounds like a load of hippy old bollocks, but it was very helpful, a great book if you want to look it up. I researched animals a lot and I went into the woods by myself for a while. I looked at wolves, apes, and big cats a lot and I actually had a lot of influence from Sitting Bull the Native American Chief who would absolutely refuse to be put into captivity essentially. He was my symbol on my mood board. I had of hyenas, wild cats, and lions and things and Eddie Izzard oddly. (Laughs)
But that character is very easy for me to get into and to relate to and especially as a woman you know the way I’m sitting right now, this is the “proper” way to be (Pollyanna is poised perfectly in her chair, legs crossed and back straight) but this is how I really want to sit (slump and slouches, legs apart). It was just going into that side of yourself and that place where you sit where you are raw.
It looked so physically demanding as well, were you quite literally hanging for hours on end or was that nicely broken up?
McINTOSH: There wasn’t any pain. There was some discomfort. But I had two manacle men on each manacle with keys to let me out. They were really locked though. Lucky just kept telling me not to pull too hard or strain myself. As an actor sometimes you can get a bit carried away and it was very important to him that we were all kept safe and comfortable. It was physically demanding, I worked out quite hard for it.
Some of the critics of the film have stated that there are very misogynistic elements whereas other people counter balance that by saying that it’s an examination of sexuality and gender roles themselves, whereas, the character of your captor, for example, is representation of everything that is reprehensible and evil about the male, dominant side of things.
McINTOSH: Certainly I think of our patriarchy as it’s explored in the film, I don’t think it’s a character that people are going to want to be like, is it? I don’t think it’s a character that encourages misogyny in any way. It’s also not a film where the woman’s captivity is eroticized in the way that it is in a lot of those torture-porn type of films. It was very important to me for instance that the rape scene wasn’t frantic, kind of exciting, you know that smell of blood that you get from a lot of those rape scenes.
Yes, it was very perfunctionary.
McINTOSH: Yes, as it is, a very shameful, gross thing. I think Lucky did some very interesting stuff with the camera so that you were forced to face that from the victimizer’s perspective as well and in fact that character comes out more uncomfortable than the woman does in many ways because she is stronger than that. There’s a lot I could say about why that side of the film is important to me but I think that anybody that claims it’s misogynistic is really missing the point.
I also understand, however, that it is a very difficult film to watch and it creates a lot of turmoil for a lot of people and it can make you quite angry at the world. Things that are about the harsher side of life can often do that. For instance, in regards to the chap at Sundance who protested the film, I think in my mind that’s what happened with him, is that he felt quite angry and impotent because there’s nothing he can do about the state that we’re in and the problems that the film is talking about and so instead he just got quite mad at the film and I think that’s just misguided.
Thank you very much for addressing that for us. So what’s up next for you?
McINTOSH: Well, I’m in the middle of rehearsal for a play called The Halloween Sessions and that’s going to be on at the end of October in Leicester Square Theatre, a genre piece and a lot of fun. I also have a couple of things coming out on TV in January/February. Bob Servant Independent, which is a comedy with Brian Cox. MI High, which is a kid’s show where I get to play the prime minister so I’m a “baddy” so that’s fun for people who like to see me being a bit mean. And I just did some Waterloo Road, and I’m writing a script for a feature and also writing a sitcom so I’m kind of having a lot of fun with that and entertaining myself.
McINTOSH: Yes please do! I’m @PollyAMcIntosh on Twitter and Pollyanna McIntosh on Facebook and I do apologize if I’m not on there all the time, but I do keep people quite updated with stuff that’s coming out and write the odd stupid poem and certainly really appreciate those who want to know things.
Pollyanna it’s been an absolute pleasure, thank you so much.
McINTOSH: Thank you.
NB: Pollyanna has unfortunately cancelled her performances in the upcoming play “The Halloween Sessions” due to contractual obligations.
Words by: Colin McCracken