Interview with House of Purgatory’s Tyler Christensen

First time director/script writer Tyler Christensen wasn’t afraid to jump right in to the world of horror movie making, creating the tight, tense House of Purgatory, a film that’s both original and relatable to horror lovers. Recently, PopHorror got to have a chat with the fledgling filmmaker, asking him about his projects before and after House of Purgatory, who inspires him and what really scares him.

PopHorror – Thank you for agreeing to this interview! First of all, I want to tell you how much I loved House of Purgatory. You did an amazing job on it! I never would have guessed that you were a first time director. I love the concept and that the film ran so smoothly, never getting stuck in a rut or stretched out with nonsense to increase the running time.

Tyler Christensen – Why, thank you!

PopHorror – You’re welcome! Can you tell our readers what the movie is about?

Tyler Christensen  House of Purgatory is about a group of teens who go looking for a mythical haunted attraction on Halloween night. Upon finding it, each of them is confronted with the secrets they all keep.

https://youtu.be/Prm3WSd90xM

PopHorror – Where did you get the idea for House of Purgatory?

Tyler Christensen – I had heard the urban legend about a haunted attraction so scary that nobody had ever made it all the way through growing up in Wisconsin. I was so fascinated by that, and got to thinking, “If this place were to exist, what could be hiding in its walls that is so terrifying nobody could complete it?” I thought the only thing that scary is the notion of coming face to face with our deepest secrets.

PopHorror – What got you into making movies?

Tyler Christensen – I’ve always loved telling stories. I loved writing scary little tales and recording them on a tape recorder. As I got older and I found my dad’s video camera, I got to tell my scary little stories on a different medium, and I was hooked!

PopHorror – House of Purgatory was your first try at both directing and writing. How are those jobs different from producing and editing?

Tyler Christensen – I think the easiest way of summing it up is that writing and directing are about creating; producing and editing are about fixing. When you’ve written something, spent so much time… just the two of you in a room together, you take such pride in it. It’s your little creation. Then I had to put on my producer hat and be honest with myself – this scene has to go, there’s no way I can do that within budget, these are the locations we can actually use… So certain things in the script have to change.

Then, as a director, I was back to creating. Working with actors and helping them dial in on the characters and relationships. Setting up cool shots and tracking the story beats. Then, directing was over and the editing hat goes on and you have to say, “Well, that doesn’t work. This scene falls flat, this relationship didn’t translate to film, etc. How do we fix it?” I take great pride in understanding all sides of production, as it makes you appreciate the job everyone does.

https://youtu.be/mmE52HAergE

PopHorror  House of Purgatory is a pretty intense horror film. Are you a fan of horror movies? What are your favorites?

Tyler Christensen – I am moderately obsessed with horror films. I like the ones, as is evident in House of Purgatory, that rely more on psychological scares than blood and gore. Films like The Exorcist, Sinister, Jaws, Halloween, The Conjuring

PopHorror – Do you have any projects coming up that you can talk about?

Tyler Christensen – We are working currently on putting funding together for a script I’ve written that I am very excited about. It’s kind of a new twist on the classic haunted house story.

PopHorror – Ooh, I can’t wait to hear more about it! What are you afraid of?

Tyler Christensen – I’m much more afraid of things that are unseen than seen. The paranormal freaks me out. And swimming in the ocean. I blame Jaws for that one.

https://youtu.be/qtw9r1XbP2c

PopHorror – I think we all blame Jaws for that one (laughs). You’ve done a lot of reality show work. What’s the difference between working in reality television and making movies?

Tyler Christensen – I’m not embarrassed to tell people I’m making movies! There have definitely been a couple of shows that were certainly nothing I was excited to tell people I had worked on.

PopHorror – Yeah, that could get awkward, huh? Are you inspired by anyone in the business?

Tyler Christensen – James Wan is probably the biggest inspiration for me. You see what he did with Saw, and then I especially appreciated him once he started getting into the more supernatural stories like Dead Silence, Insidious and The Conjuring. The scares he can craft are so effective, but part of the reason they work so well is that the audience cares so much about the characters. He takes the time to set up these people as humans, so when the horror begins, it’s packs more of a punch.

PopHorror – Are there any people in the business that you would love to work with?

Tyler Christensen – Oh man, too many to mention! Broken record, but James Wan. John Carpenter. I’d love to just be around Tim Burton, just to try to see the world the way he does.

PopHorror – Now is the part where you talk about anything that I didn’t ask about. Go wild!

Tyler Christensen – Oh boy, I need structure! Otherwise I’ll go off on tangents ranging from Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, to my pooch and the Green Bay Packers. And trust me, you don’t want to get me started on the Packers.

House of Purgatory is from first time writer/director Tyler Christensen, a film based on an urban legend he relentlessly heard at sleepovers growing up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His debut film was acquired by Terror Films in September 2015, after executive Jim Klock came across the film at Fear Fete Horror Film where it was an Official Selection. House of Purgatory stars Anne Leighton (NBC’s Grimm, ABC’s Nashville and CBS’ Criminal Minds), Laura Coover (ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder and Castle), Aaron Galvin, and Brian Krause (best known for his eight-season portrayal of Leo Wyatt on cult hit series Charmed). The film revolves around four mid-western teenagers (Leighton, Coover, Galvin, and Brad Fry) who search for a fabled haunted house on Halloween night. Once finding it, they slowly realize that the house is much more than a run-of-the-mill Halloween attraction – somehow the house knows each of their deepest secrets. One-by-one, the house uses these secrets against the terrified teens. Soon they find themselves in a battle to save their lives… and their souls. No one escapes purgatory.

House of Purgatory debuted in the U.S. on October 21st, 2016 and is now available on iTunes (https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/house-of-purgatory/id1142832334), Xbox, Amazon Instant, Google Play, Vudu, PlayStation, YouTube, and Vimeo On Demand. The film is also set to be released on Amazon Prime, 24-Hour Movie Channel on Roku, DVD and Cable VOD at a later date. House of Purgatory is produced by Watching Eye Productions and is distributed by genre distributor, Terror Films.

Check back with PopHorror to find out what Tyler’s next project will be and when we can expect to see it!

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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