One of my favorite things is when an entertainer such as an actor, musician, filmmaker, etc. jumps genres. I was in love with Lady Gaga in both A Star is Born and American Horror Story: Hotel because I knew she could make that leap from singer to actor. When comedian Jordan Peele made his first horror film, I could not wait to check it out. So when I read that comedian Joe Lo Truglio (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) had directed his first film and that it was a horror movie, I swooned. I had to see this because let’s be honest, he’s pretty hilarious and upon learning that he’s a lifelong horror fan, I knew we were in for a treat. To top it all off, Joe’s wife, Beth Dover (Orange is the New Black), who is also known for more comedic endeavors, stars as Kate, a woman with PTSD who is trying to start over after leaving a domestic violence situation that has left her lost and with a pretty gnarly case of scary flashbacks.
Packed with breathtaking visuals since it was filmed in a real fire lookout, Outpost constantly kept me on my toes wondering what was real and what wasn’t. And I like that a lot. To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted via Zoom with both Joe and Beth, and we discussed how the project came about, finding the perfect location, horror movies, and more!
PopHorror: I watched Outpost last night and I’m so excited to speak with you. I love it when people are known for different things, like how you guys are known for comedy mostly, how you branch out into the horror genre and that makes me so happy.
Joe Lo Truglio: Thank you so much! It’s really nice to hear. I’m a little nervous getting into a different lane, but very happy to hear you say that.
Beth Dover: We’re finally putting it out to the world and we’re like, “What’s going to happen?” It’s very exciting.
PopHorror: It was a lot of fun! It makes me really happy that your feature film directorial debut is a horror film. That just warms my heart. What inspired the story and how did the project come about?
Joe Lo Truglio: I kind of worked backwards in figuring out what the story was going to be. I knew that it was going to be an independent movie that I was going to help finance, so the cast needed to be small. I wanted Beth to be in it because she’s a terrific actor and also, I’m married to her.
Beth Dover: I live in the house.
Joe Lo Truglio: I knew this movie was going to be with us. The reality of independent filmmaking is that it’s around for years. But really even aside from that, I knew that Beth could really handle this role. The story came from, where can I shoot that’s going to look amazing for cheap, and I picked the top of a mountain. I didn’t really think about the logistics. Then started to work the story back from there. The horror movies that I love involve descent into madness. They involve isolation, identity crisis. That was where the seed of it began. The project began in 2018. I think I finished the first draft in spring of ’18 out in Joshua Tree and then it was quite a long time finding that location.
PopHorror: You mentioned finding the location. I want to know about the outpost. It looked like it was real.
Joe Lo Truglio: Yes, it was.
PopHorror: Did you find that first and then base the story around it being an outpost or was that just a lucky find?
Joe Lo Truglio: Yes, a little bit. I had the script and then we had to find a tower. My DP, Frank Barrera, I’ve known since I was 17 and he and I decided that we’re not going to do this movie unless we’re actually going to shoot in a tower because the script is… I’m proud of the script but there’s nothing new. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. What’s going to make this movie stand out is the location. After that, we took about a year or two. I contacted some producers in Spokane, Washington to just do some scouting. They found the outpost that we used, which is in Idaho, and once we found that – that was in 2019 – I then rewrote the script a couple of times tailoring it for that specific location. I was able to tweak things once I had the location. Frank and I did a shot list for a year. We knew exactly how we were going to approach it, and we had plenty of help from the Idaho Department of Lands state agency there. Dan Brown, I can’t thank him enough. He really gave us a lot of access, all the access we needed really.
PopHorror: Makes it more authentic, that it’s real.
Joe Lo Truglio: Yeah, I wanted people, when they’re watching, to be like, “Did they really… ? Are they up there? They’re up there!” I just felt it added a level of danger and threat to the movie that you can’t really do in a green screen.
Beth Dover: It was a working tower. People were staying there at night.
PopHorror: Oh wow, that’s incredible. Was it a real outhouse?
Joe Lo Truglio: Oh yeah.
Beth Dover: Yes!
Joe Lo Truglio: Sure was. To be clear, we had Porta Potties up there for our crew. There was a strict rule of not using the outhouse while we were shooting the movie. We had a lot of help from the community there and I can’t thank them enough for being gracious hosts. We had the Jeep club there, the transportation captains, getting us up the mountain and down the mountain safely. It took an hour to get up the mountain, and an hour down. We lost two hours every day. We weren’t in danger of losing daylight because we were shooting pretty north. We were about 30 miles south of the Canadian border, so we were really up there. We had daylight, we just didn’t have a lot of time. We shot it in 16 days.
PopHorror: Wow, that’s impressive! And Beth, you are just fantastic.
Beth Dover: Thank you.
PopHorror: Like I said before, you’re more known for comedy, and it’s your husband making the film. But what made you say yes to a horror film?
Beth Dover: Well, once again, it’s my husband and we live in the same house so I said yes. Also, getting a job is really great in this economy. But also it was, in all seriousness, a great challenge for me because you’re right, I do a lot more of the comedic acting roles. I went to theater school and thought I was a dramatic actress at some point so it was fun to kind of challenge myself and do some horror. I sort of look at it as all acting. I don’t go into a comedy being like, “And now I’m going to do this.”
Joe Lo Truglio: You bring rubber chickens.
Beth Dover: Slip on banana peels.
Joe Lo Truglio: Bring some confetti.
Beth Dover: So I did not bring my banana peels or confetti up to the tower, but it was a great challenge to do something different than what I normally do. And to get to work with Joe. This was something that he has wanted to do for so long, and to get to support him in that and see him work so hard and so well as a director and writer. It’s incredible that we did this. That he did this.
PopHorror: Was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?
Beth Dover: I was hoping for some authenticity, so I did a little research on PTSD. I know as a woman, a lot of us can keep things inside and not really talk about our feelings to be more socially acceptable to the world as what we need to be, or seen as, or whatever. You don’t want to be too angry or too this or too that, right? So you just kind of keep it in. I relate to that feeling of repression and then explosion. Obviously, this is taken to a much bigger level, and there’s abuse involved as well, but I could relate to that feeling, if that makes sense.
Joe Lo Truglio: That makes total sense, yeah. The subject matter is pretty sensitive. I knew that PTSD and domestic violence are certainly an important part of this movie, but I wanted to be careful not to exploit that. I think the terror of the PTSD is a device in this movie to help us sympathize with Kate. Use it as a device as well, almost like Jacob’s Ladder did. It’s very immediate, very jarring, very scary. But I also wanted to be careful to be clear on the message. And the message was that Kate made some very bad decisions. I feel that there are elements of physical trauma that one can’t handle alone and must seek professional help. I feel very fortunate that Gravitas is releasing the movie during May, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I was aware of that throughout the process of writing it and editing it. I read some books and spoke to some abuse survivors just to be careful that I was respecting the very important issue.
PopHorror: I appreciate that. I really liked the usage of the flashbacks to show what she was going through and what was in her mind, and to show how terrified she was. I think you did a very fine job with that.
Joe Lo Truglio: Thank you.
PopHorror: Joe, I read online that you are a lifelong horror fan. I saw you on 101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All Time on Shudder.
Joe Lo Truglio: I loved doing that! I was so flattered when they asked me. I couldn’t believe it. Very happy.
PopHorror: What was it like being able to chime in on some of the best of the genre?
Joe Lo Truglio: I just felt so privileged in that kind of circle. Horror was my introduction to writing and movie making and a whole world that I felt a part of. Horror nerd being an outcast, just someone on the fringes, I just felt very welcomed in that genre, so being able to discuss those movies that I grew up with was a complete honor. I loved it. And I was able to geek out very easily on a lot of those movies.
Beth Dover: Were they like, “Which movies would you want to talk about?”
Joe Lo Truglio: They gave us a list of maybe 100 movies and said pick 10 or 15 to really talk about. But then once I got there, they were also throwing out a couple other ones just to see what I thought about them and have some commentary.
Beth Dover: Had you seen all 100 movies?
Joe Lo Truglio: I hadn’t. There’s a list that I have that I’m going through to make sure I catch all of them. Not just on that list but on other lists as well.
PopHorror: I would be choosing my movies, get there ready to talk, and then as soon as they ask me about them, I’d be like, “Uhhh, there was blood.”
Beth Dover: That would be me. Sometimes I just forget general easy words. I liked it? That would be Beth.
PopHorror: “Somebody was murdered. There was a knife.”
Joe Lo Truglio: “Someone got torn apart.” It was fun to do deep dives because I just thought about a lot of the scenes. Like Cujo, for example, was a movie that I watched endlessly because it was on HBO at the time.
PopHorror: I’m glad that you had fun with it!
Joe Lo Truglio: I did!
PopHorror: What is up next for you both?
Beth Dover: I have a couple indie movies coming out. There’s a movie already out called The Donor Party with Malin Ackerman, Rob Corddry, and Jerry O’Connell, a bunch of people. And I have a movie called Helen’s Dead with Emile Hirsch. That’s coming out in the next few months, I’m not sure when. And a movie called Scrap, as well, with Anthony Rapp, and that is making the rounds at festivals at the moment. And I don’t know when that’s coming out either. So one movie’s out, Outpost is coming out on Friday.
Joe Lo Truglio: Welcome to the world of independent cinema and distribution.
Beth Dover: Nobody tells me anything.
Joe Lo Truglio: I’m currently trying to get the next horror sci-fi script produced and working on that. On the acting front, I’m involved in a couple of animation projects. One is called Bedrock, which picks up 10 years after we leave the Flintstones, and the other is Muppets Mayhem, which brought out the eight year old in me. I was totally fanboying with Dr. Teeth and Animal and that whole gang over there. I was a kid in a candy store on that set. It was amazing.
PopHorror: That’s awesome! I’m excited to hear that you’re working on another horror one. I was hoping we’d see you both in more horror. Give you a taste of it and have you come back.
Beth Dover: Maybe we’re entering into our horror genre phase of our career.
Joe Lo Truglio: I welcome it with open arms. I could be happy with that.
PopHorror: And who better to do it with than your partner, right?
Beth Dover: Exactly! That’s true
Joe Lo Truglio: Yup!
PopHorror: I have one last question for you both. What’s your favorite scary movie?
Beth Dover: I know I’m the worst at this one because I always forget, but I keep coming back to It Follows. I loved that movie. So I’m going to go with It Follows, or The Shining.
Joe Lo Truglio: Incredible movie. My favorite horror movie is The Brood, which is a movie from David Cronenberg in 1979, which also kind of talks about a pattern of violence, much like Outpost does. Those little creatures in that movie haunted my dreams for some time. Most of my preteen years.
Thank you so much to Joe and Beth for taking the time to speak with us. Outpost is available now On Demand!