Interview With Filmmaker Brad Anderson, Director Of ‘Blood’

I don’t have children, so I can’t tell you that I understand, or even know, what a parent will do to save or help their child.  This is the question that the new Brad Anderson film, Blood, raises. What would you do, and how far would you go, to save your child? According to Jess, played by Michelle Monaghan in an incredible performance, you will fight to the death, and nothing is too insane or too much to save her son after he’s been bitten by dog, and comes down with a mysterious illness. To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted with Brad via Zoom, about what intrigued him about the film, why he loves horror, and more!

**This contains mild spoilers**

PopHorror: I really loved Blood. I had a lot of fun with it and thought it was great, so I’m super excited to speak with you.

Brad Anderson: Cool, thanks!

PopHorror: What intrigued you about the script and made you want to be a part of the project?

Brad Anderson: The fact that it wasn’t a straight-forward genre story. It was a kind of mix of genre elements and vampire stories but at the same time brought in the emotional component of this struggling single mom and her attempts to keep her kids safe. I like that combination of drama and scary movie horror stuff. I’ve always been drawn to stories that don’t fit easily into the usual box, that take a different angle on the usual story. In some ways you could describe the movie as a movie about a kid who is becoming a vampire in the most basic way, but at the same time it’s also about a mother trying to protect her child and the sacrifices she’s willing to make to do whatever it takes to do that. That combination, to me, was really intriguing. I liked that element probably the most.

PopHorror: I like that you said vampire because they don’t actually say that in the movie. And it doesn’t follow any of the normal vampire rules. But the first thing that came to my mind was it’s a fresh take on a vampire story. I went into it completely blind and that’s what I liked about it because it kept me questioning if he was a vampire. 

Brad Anderson: Yeah, yeah. 

PopHorror: Was there anything that you were adamant about leaving in the film, no matter what?

Brad Anderson: The most debated or discussed element of the story was probably why this was happening to the kid. The explanation. In the usual vampire story, he’s bitten by something, a bat or another vampire, and he or she starts to transform. There’s a bit of a nod to that with the dog biting him. What happened to the dog? Why is the dog infecting him? Was there something to do with that tree? Was there something in the tree? Is there some kind of supernatural component to the story? There is, you could say, because something clearly is happening to him that defies explanation. At one point we were discussing that maybe we see something inside the tree. A creature maybe. Something that can provide a really grounded explanation as to what’s happening to Owen in the movie. In the end I felt it was more interesting to keep that ambiguous to let the audience guess or wonder about just the way Mom wonders about it, and not try to over explain it. It’s not ultimately about the monster component of the story, really. It’s really about what a mother would do to prevent her child from becoming a monster and in doing so, sort of becoming a monster herself. 

PopHorror: Absolutely!

Brad Anderson: That’s the kind of cool angle that intrigued me rather than the more than the traditional vampire trope. We nod to it, right? At one point the girl goes down to that weird dried-up lake and sees bats going into the tree, like there’s something in there but we don’t know what it is. It’s meant to be kind of creepy but inexplicable. Some of the best horror, to me, is the kind of horror that doesn’t’ over explain itself. The mystery is what makes it creepy because you don’t know why it’s happening. I would say that was the thing we talked about changing but I wanted to keep it more of a mystery.

PopHorror: I think that’s what makes it scarier, that you don’t know.

Brad Anderson: Yeah!

PopHorror: I have a huge fear of the unknown. That’s the scariest to me. I like it when horror movies play into that. This film really amped up my anxiety with her holding the woman in the basement. Stealing from the hospital! I was like dude, that is right in the open and everyone is going to see her! I love the feeling. Is she going to get caught?

Brad Anderson: The suspense in the movie and the story, as you said, is she going to get away with what she’s trying to get away with? All the different things that she does to help her son and even going so far as kidnapping a woman. It gets pretty hardcore. I love those kinds of stories because it puts the character in a huge predicament. On one end she’s got to protect her child, what mother wouldn’t do that? But at the same time, is she willing to take another life to save his life? It’s the age-old question, when asked yourself strictly as a parent, how far you would go to protect your kid. And that’s the predicament she finds herself in. And then at the end, she even gets more of a predicament because it’s like, get rid of one kid to save the other. That’s the Sophie’s choice thing at the end there. All of that, when I read the script, it was like this is not the typical vampire story. The kid drinks blood. He needs blood to survive. There’s definitely that in it, but that’s the main element, really.

PopHorror: You’ve created quite a bit of horror in your career – Masters of Horror, the fan favorite Session 9, The Machinist. What draws you to the genre?

Brad Anderson: I think horror, or good horror because there’s so many types of horror. There’s poppy kind of goofy, silly horror. There’s disturbing psychological horror. I like the genre as a filmmaker because so much of it is about creating a tone. Horror really lends itself to that. And creating situations that can elicit a response from the audience – fear, horror, shock. That’s fun in some way, to see if you can make an audience jump out of the seats or make them turn away from the screen. If you like a horror movie, that’s why you go because you want to see if you’re able to withstand it. I enjoy that. I like watching those movies too. I like the fact it’s a very visual genre. It also takes advantage of sound design. I love sound design. There’s a lot of that in this movie. I love the use of sound to tell the story as much as the visual. To me, that is something horror is very unique at. If you think of horror movies, you think of the score and the weird, creepy sound design as much as you think of the visuals. I love playing with that palette, which we did in this movie. In Session 9 even moreso. It’s fun, and it’s creative, and I like darker stories anyhow. I gravitate more towards that than any other kinds of stories. I’ve done a lot of different genres in my career, but horror seems to be the one that keeps drawing me back.

PopHorror: Just one last question for you today. What is your favorite scary movie?

Brad Anderson: My favorite scary movie… That’s tricky because there are so many good scary movies, movie that really get under your skin. That might be one right there. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, Under the Skin, with Scarlett Johansson. Have you seen that film?

PopHorror: I haven’t.

Brad Anderson: Oh man. It is one of my favorites.

Thank you so much to Brad for taking the time to speak with us. Blood is available to watch On Demand!

About Tiffany Blem

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

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