Hey fellow horror geeks and horrorphiles, Prometheus here with some more macabre madness! I love a good indie-horror flick, that’s no secret. A lot of work goes into indies so, when I come across one I enjoy... I like to share it!
I recently had the chance to sit down and watch “THIS IS OUR HOME,” written by Rob Harmon and directed by Omri Dorani. The film stars Jeff Ayars as “Corey,” and Simone Policano as Reina with a wonderful performance by Drew Beckas as their “son”. Check out the synopsis and trailer below!
“A struggling couple's weekend getaway goes awry when a child arrives in the middle of the night claiming to be their son.”
“THIS IS OUR HOME” has been doing very well on the festival circuit and for good reason. With a small budget and some ambition this story comes together through the strength of the acting and the cinematography of Thomas Taugher. Scored by Andy Marsh, the music sets the tone and helps deepen the overall atmosphere. I never felt like it was taking away from the film, as can be the case with many indie films.
The story isn’t anything brand new or shocking. It’s very reminiscent of “The Omen” or the umpteen copycats that film spawned, but it’s well-executed and does add its own original spice to the mix.
I understand indie films aren’t for everyone, but if you enjoy a good indie-horror, check out “THIS IS OUR HOME.” It’s worth a watch and pretty damn creepy in parts!
I got to chat with the star of the film Jeff Ayars, one half of the comedy duo “Cannibal Milkshake,” who’s skits have been featured on both Comedy Central and Funny Or Die. We discussed “THIS IS OUR HOME,” horror and bearded sequels! What the hell does that mean you ask? Find out below!
JS: Hi, Jeff!
JS: Thanks for the call! I wanted to talk to you about your upcoming film “THIS IS OUR HOME.”
JA: It’s almost like a relationship drama but wrapped in a horror package about this couple struggling to bounce back from the loss of a pregnancy. They go away to her childhood home to reconnect to the woods; and they’re actually starting to build their relationship up a bit again when this kid arrives in the middle of the night saying he’s their son, and he even has the baby name that they had toyed around with while they were pregnant. So, I think that as much as I would divulge but as you can guess it goes a little off the rails after that.
JS: Right, right, (laughing). So, I understand your also a producer on the film Jeff?
JA: That’s correct, I knew Omri (Dorani) probably for almost a decade. We had done some short films together, and I was kind of in it from day one because he and I were both talking about working together again and we both wanted to do an Indie feature. We just kind of started bouncing ideas around. He really developed the story with Rob (Harmon), but it was crafted around me and Simone (Policano) as a couple.
JS: Oh, okay so it was actually written for the two of you.
JA: Yeah, so it was a pretty cool experience. She’s a producer as well; and that was actually her mother’s house in Woodstock where we filmed that, and we found financing down there where Omri and I grew up in Philadelphia. So, it was a really cool, collaborative, family film-making experience.
JS: Awesome, that kind of leads me into my next question. It stars you and Simone Policano and you guys seemed really comfortable together, so I was going to ask if you two knew each other.
JA: Yeah, we were actually dating at the time and that kind of launched the idea for the film, that we could draw on our relationship. I mean these characters aren’t like us, but we were able to take some real parts and mix it with the fiction, and I think it turned out in a really cool way.
JS: I didn’t realize that you guys were dating at the time and playing an on-screen couple and maybe that’s why it seemed so natural. Yeah, you guys were really good together.
JA: Thank you, thank you.
JS: So, how did you prepare for the role of Corey? As you said he’s very different than you. What did you do to get into the role?
JA: I didn’t do a ton of crazy mental backflips are anything to relate, or really feel some of his more negative aspects. But Simone and I spent a lot of time talking about our own views on relationships, where they were the same, where they were different. Kind of switching into the other’s brain spaces and how that related to Corey and Reina where the anxieties can drive two people apart if they don’t communicate them. And I think that is something relatable no matter what other aspects of Corey are on the table, you know just embodying that mindset or brain space where you know you have fears creeping to the surface and they can drive a wedge between people. Because Corey doesn’t think he’s a bad guy. He doesn’t think what he does will affect Reina the way that they do. Everybody sort of thinks they're doing the best thing in their own head. I don’t think that a lot of movie villains know they’re the villain, right?
JS: Right, right, it’s a matter of perspective and yea like you said, I don’t think he had ill intentions, especially in the beginning. But your portrayal was good, it brings me into one of the things I wanted to say, you did a great job keeping the tone of the film it’s a real dialogue-driven film with close up, intimate shots, small cast, no real special effects so that really relies on the cast and their performance. Kudos to you, Simone and Andrew.
JA: Thank you, yea that was a challenge, and we spent a lot of time tweaking the dialogue and also improvising some moments just to make sure that it felt, how would we day this if we were in this room right now because yea, you're asking a lot of the audience to watch two or three characters talk for over an hour.
JS: Right, and you guys kept it interesting. I watch a lot of Indie films and some of them aren’t the best, some are awesome. I really enjoyed this one. I wanted to ask where did you find Andrew (Beckas)?
JA: So, Andrew was, or I think he goes by Drew; he was from an online casting submission that Omri got. We saw a lot of kids, some local some further away. Drew and his mother came up, a six-hour drive from Pittsburgh PA. We saw him for ten minutes, and he drove a six-hour drive back to PA, but it was pretty clear that Drew was our guy. He’s a very thoughtful, introspective cool kid. It was really a pleasure working with him. He seems pretty wise beyond his years.
JS: Yeah, he did a good job. I think you guys made a good choice with him. Now I know you more from your stuff with Comedy Central and Cannibal Milkshake (both laughing). What brings you to the horror genre?
JA: Well, I’ve always been interested in it. I’ve also done dramatic acting. Actually, with Omri, too. For me, I really like performing first and foremost. The genre is sort of secondary. Comedy is a ton of fun and I think has proven, kind of with me and my comedy partner, to be one of the best ways to get good work out there on the internet. I’m not out there making sixty-second horror shorts for Instagram. For me, I always seem to act like I’m really in the thing that I’m doing. Like with the comedy central thing, I wasn’t acting like a large comedy version of Bradley Cooper, I was trying to be exactly the Bradley Cooper, “A Star Is Born,” and let the circumstances be funny. We did like a “La La Land” parody, set in New York where my Ryan Gosling character is a stockbroker who has a cocaine habit.
JA: I was acting dramatically. My goal was to act as if that movie exists and then let our editing and locations and stuff bring the comedy. So, for horror, it wasn’t really a big adjustment because I was playing a guy whose having troubles with his girlfriend and the score and the plot of the movie brings out more of the horror.
JS: Makes sense.
JA: I never want to act like I’m in a horror film. I don’t want to telegraph all the emotions and tell people you should be scared. I try to just, when there’s comedy or horror, kind of exist in the scene as a real person and let the genre do the rest of the work. So I knew the cinematographer was getting incredible angles, and that it would be scored by our amazing composer so I just had to sort of exist in that moment as a believable person and let the genre trappings come in later. I never want to act over the top, like I’m in a crazy horror film. I think that can take away from the reality.
JS: Yeah, I totally agree. That’s how you end up with a campy movie, rather than something to be taken seriously. I love that answer because it’s true, the writing should bring out the horror, or the comedy or the drama. The actor should be in the moment. I think you did that in this film. You did a great job. As I said, I knew you from Comedy Central, so it was really cool to see you in a more serious role.
JA: Well, I’m glad to hear that you know, you weren’t sitting there thinking “what the fuck is this comedian doing?” (JS + JA laughing)
JS: Well, I try and give people credit, a lot of actors do more than just a genre. You don’t want to be labeled as something, right?
JA: Absolutely. I think it’s interesting when they do cross genres like the way Robin Williams began playing villains and things like that. Phillip Seymour Hoffman has been terrifying, and he’s also been the guy in “Along Came Polly”. I think that’s a thing to aspire to if anything.
JS: Like Jon Lithgow. That guy can do anything. He was hilarious in a sitcom and terrifying in “Dexter.” (Laughing)
JA: Oh, yeah. For me, that was the best moment in “Dexter.”
JS: So, I have a serious question for you Jeff.
JS: How long did it take to grow that beard?
JA: (Laughing) Well you know the answer is two-part because I was definitely grown and groomed it for a month or two. Then we had to go back and do a pickup shot and I had to go back to work. So, I had to trim it down and do the math and say well if we do the pickup shots in like 25 days it’ll be back to being exactly like it was in the film. So, I’d say ballpark two months for the whole thing, and then I trimmed it down to a month’s length, and then let it grow back. (Laughing)
JS: So, the beard had a sequel? (Laughing)
JA: (Laughing)The beard had a sequel.
JS: Nice. Now I know you said you’re a horror fan. What was your favorite horror growing up?
JA: Hmmm. Favorite horror growing up? You know, I kind of had a weird interest in horror. I was a little nervous watching them. I didn’t know that was part of the experience. It was kind of like a car-wreck thing where you want to look out the window when you’re a kid, but your kind of scared to. It took me a while to embrace, “Yes I want to go to this movie and get scared”. I remember watching some bootleg copy of “Saw” because I wasn’t even allowed to watch it. That was the one that stuck with me. I didn’t really love that there were forty-eight sequels (Laughing), but I did like that first one and I think we watched the “Hereditary” trailer every day on set.
JS: So, What’s next for you Jeff?
JA: So, on the comedy side of things my partner Dan (Rosen) and I are pitching a TV show and we have a monthly live comedy show in New York. I don’t know if you’re familiar with “Hardcore Henry,” Inga Vanstein, I brought her on for the EP of “THIS IS OUR HOME,” and she and I are developing a horror script together and we’re taking out a romantic comedy that we hope to co-direct and also developing a mafia comedy right now. Hoping to get one of those features going in the foreseeable future.
JS: Awesome, I’ll be keeping my eye out! It’s been a pleasure and I definitely recommend the film; you did a great job, Jeff. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me!
JA: Thank you, pleasure talking to you.
Joshua "Prometheus" Scafidi