Interview With Justin P Lange, Director Of ‘The Visitor’

To celebrate the release of the new indie flick, The Visitor, I chatted with director Justin P. Lange (The Dark) about what intrigued him about the script, how he prepares for shooting, what’s up next, and more!

Per IMDb:

After a series of tragedies, Robert moves with his wife back to her childhood home. After he discovers an old portrait of a man who looks like him, he goes down a rabbit hole to discover the identity of this mysterious doppelganger.

PopHorror: I really enjoyed The Visitor, so I’m excited to speak with you today.

Justin P Lange: Oh, thank you. Thanks for having me.

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

Justin P Lange: It was initially reading the script. It conjured some images of some of my favorite horror films, like Rosemary’s Baby and The Wicker Man. I like a project when it’s making the walls elastic a little bit, as far as the genre’s concerned. I liked how we entered the film. It felt a bit more like a haunted house movie, and then it started sort of drift into a folk horror film, playing in the genre in a fun way. And then just some of the themes that maybe I pushed a little harder on, but that spoke to me. I felt like it seemed like a project that was exciting visually and thematically, and something that I could maybe add something to.

PopHorror: How did you convey your vision to your cast and crew?

Justin P Lange: Initially, I always do a lot of prep. I do storyboards, which I find can be really useful. The cast not so much, but the boards can be really useful for the department heads to understand where I’m going – the shots, what’s in the shots, what needs to be dressed, those kinds of things, especially with camera. Fede Verardi, my DP on the film, we ended up clicking right away and he really understood the vision. We were sort of like-minded in the way we like to shoot and being really intentional with the camera. It’s not really so much about coverage as it is about really having expressive shots, each shot telling its part of the story. We didn’t shoot a lot with two cameras. It was mostly one camera coverage, and really just being intentional with our decisions, and putting a premium on the look of the film. We really wanted this to look like a cinematic movie even though it’s not going to theaters, we still wanted it to feel like a cinematic experience. So putting a real premium on the look of the film was important and Fede and I talked a lot about that.

PopHorror: I thought it was a very well-made film, and it’s beautifully shot.

Justin P Lange: Thank you.

PopHorror: The care put into it is definitely noticeable. I really enjoyed that. Was there anything you were adamant about keeping in the film, no matter what?

Justin P Lange: Adamant is a hard word. To Blumhouse and Epix’s credit, I wasn’t necessarily really put in that position where I had to do the proverbial putting my foot down, per se. They were really supportive creatively, so in that sense it was a really good partnership, and I was really lucky. But of course, things come up here and there where people have different perspectives. There was one sequence where the film takes a bit of a weird shift where all of the momentum is sort of building, building, building, and then we jump into a flashback of where the two characters first met. And that moment was always important to me, just to remind ourselves that none of this had to happen.

All of this could have been different. Just to have the film take a breath and a step back and see, especially our main character, as just an average Joe bloke sitting in a pub watching football and it all didn’t have to go this way. And then really press on the pedal and go full drive into this big, crazy ceremony experience that just says, “Yeah, but we’re here now so this is the way it’s going to go.” For the most part, we were all on board for that, so it didn’t take a ton of convincing. As long as you can express yourself and try ideas. I find film to be a collective medium, so I always like to say I’m not stupid enough to think I know everything. I want input. I want feedback. And that’s sort of the dialogue of being a creative and making a film. The actors are going to have ideas I didn’t have, and if I don’t take those great ideas, I’m an idiot. Why, just so I can be right? That’s the exciting part of making, the discovery and someone illuminating an aspect of something I didn’t see. That’s that fun collaboration I love about the medium.

PopHorror: I love that so much. If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Justin P Lange: Oh man. Good question. Geeze… That’s a hard question. I would want to be like a third Cohen brother, if that was possible. Or maybe not collaborate because that wouldn’t make sense, but I would love to just sit in for a day with Paul Thomas Anderson and see how he works and how his brain works. I really love his style of shooting. But yeah, that’s such a great question and I have no good answer.

PopHorror: I find that catching people off guard gets the most honest answers.

Justin P Lange: Yeah, the thing is, as a director, your mind goes to directors and you can’t really collaborate with them. There are tons of actors I would love to work with. It really depends on the role and everything.

PopHorror: What is up next for you?

Justin P Lange: I wish I could answer. I have a bunch of projects in development, which are just scripts I’ve written or scripts that I’m attached to direct. I just wrote a pilot for a limited horror series, but nothing imminently going yet. But hopefully soon. We’ll see.

PopHorror: A pilot, that’s exciting.

Justin P Lange: Yeah, yeah. It really is!

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

Justin P Lange: My favorite scary movie… Well the movie that let me into the horror genre is Let the Right One In. I grew up a big scaredy cat and wasn’t allowed to watch horror films and stuff, so it took me a long time to open my eyes to it.

Thank you so much, Justin, for taking the time to speak with. Be sure to catch The Visitor, on digital and On Demand now!

About Tiffany Blem

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

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