Interview With Filmmaker André Øvredal For ‘Mortal’

Two of the best horror movies to come out in the last few years are The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016 – read our review here) and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (2019 – read our review here). Both rank highly in my favorites list, and both are movies that I recommend to friends on an almost daily basis. I have mad love for them. Fittingly, they’re both directed by the same filmmaker, André Øvredal. I caught up with André to discuss his latest film, Mortal (2020 – read our review here), and we chatted about ithe film’s inspiration, his love of horror, what’s up next, and of course, horror movies.

PopHorror: Hi, André! How are you?

André Øvredal: I’m good. How are you?

PopHorror: I’m good. I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Mortal based on just reading the synopsis, but those can be very misleading. I loved it. I thought it was so good, and that ending really punched me in the face. You’ve definitely made a lifelong fan in me.

André Øvredal: That’s amazing! That’s really great to hear.

PopHorror: What inspired Mortal?

André Øvredal: Marvel movies, I guess? Having watched the Marvel movies, I wanted to just bring a Norwegian, grounded, different version about pain. About a person who is suffering… A darker twist on an idea of who a god can be, in a way. That really intrigued me, to put this person in the middle of a situation that you haven’t seen on screen before to a degree, rural somewhere in nowhere land. And have this little group of villagers, if you will, experience what that could do, and all the consequences of having a person like that in existence.

PopHorror: Nat Wolff is a treasure. He is so talented, and he did just amazing in this one. This was filmed in Norway, right?

André Øvredal: Yeah, everything outside is filmed in Norway. We did a little bit of studio work in Czech Republic. That’s about it.

PopHorror: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is one of my recent favorites. It’s definitely in my top 10 all time favorite movies. 

André Øvredal: Oh, wow! I’m honored.

PopHorror: I don’t know if you can see this poster behind me. I love it so much. And I always recommend The Autopsy of Jane Doe to everyone. I wanted to know: what is it draws you to horror?

André Øvredal: Horror, in general… I’m sure you’d agree that Mortal is not a horror movie. But what draws me to horror is I love suspense. I love creating a horrific kind of atmosphere and feeling of dread. I don’t know… I’m a nice guy, I think. But that’s my joy in filmmaking. I grew up with so many horror movies and it was a treasure for me to discover horror movies even when I was young. There were so many that were basically illegal. Even Evil Dead wasn’t even possible to get a hold of in Norway. It was banned.

It’s Hitchcock that inspires me in that way. His idea of anticipation is more important than the bang, if you will. And I think that is the core of reigning horror. Yes, you have to deliver in the end with something, a gruesome monster or whatever it is, but the expectation and the anticipation and the feeding the audience’s imagination with whatever dread you can is what’s really the fun aspect of it.

PopHorror: You’re right. I wouldn’t really call Mortal a horror movie either, although it has some terrifying times in it. I think it’s horror adjacent because if that was going on around me, I’d be terrified.

André Øvredal: That’s true, especially the interrogation scene has aspects of it. That’s true.

PopHorror: I know that Covid has stalled a lot of projects, and a lot of them have been cancelled. But is there anything that you’re currently work on or have coming up?

André Øvredal: I’m working on several projects. Some I can’t talk about, but the ones that have been announced publicly to a degree, of course, I can talk about. The Long Walk which is still absolutely, vividly in existence. Scary Stories 2

PopHorror: I’m so excited!

André Øvredal: We’re very much working on the story and the script. That’s where we’re at. And The Last Voyage of Demeter, a movie about Dracula’s journey from Bulgaria—or Romania essentially—but from Bulgaria to the UK. The ship journey. It’s most definitely a horror movie.

PopHorror: That sounds very exciting! What’s your favorite scary movie, André?

André Øvredal: That’s a tough question, because I love so many scary movies. I tend to end up on Poltergeist because there’s a sense of awe, and there’s a sense of humanity. And there’s humor and it’s scary on a very normal level. Like the kid’s sitting there terrified of the thunder and counting the distance and learning how that works, and then just the audacity to just show these creatures and let it be beautiful as well as scary. I think that’s such a great part of Spielberg’s creation.

Thank you so much to André for taking the time to speak with us. Mortal is currently showing in theaters, and is available to rent online.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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