One of my favorite films from last year was The Deeper You Dig (read our review – HERE). It was horrifying and beautiful and left a lasting impression. Toby Poser co-directed and co-wrote the film with her husband also starred in it. Everything about this film is raw, honest, and unique and I couldn’t wait to get more insight from her about it.
PopHorror – How long have you had a love for cinema and horror?
Toby Poser – I’ve loved watching horror since I was a kid, but my exposure to it was pretty mainstream. I became more invested in the genre as I grew older and had more in life I cared about and loved. Horror became more personal and relevant, almost serving the same purpose as nightmares – a fun and sometimes twisted outlet for everyday fears and compulsions.
PopHorror – It was kind of the same for me. What is your favorite horror film?
Toby Poser – I could watch The Witch over and over again. Repression never goes well – for anyone! The stillness and tension in that movie betray the holy hell and sexiness flowing underneath. I love it.
PopHorror – Same here! How did you get involved in the film industry?
Toby Poser – I come from a history of acting. (One of the first films I ever did was a horror short in NYC where I was a bloody nurse assisting a botched surgery. I remember the police came because the neighbors thought a true murder was going down.) When I hit 40, my acting career had waned and so my husband and I decided to start making our own films with our kids. We’ve made 5 features together since then.
PopHorror – That’s amazing! You and your husband both created and starred in the deeper you dig, one of my favorite films in the past year. What was the inspiration behind the film?
Toby Poser – Thank you! John pumps out nightmares nonstop. He’s always waking up and telling me about another dream he had where he murdered someone and buried the body. So that was the catalyst for The Deeper You Dig. We then flushed out that act into a story about a mother, daughter, and stranger. The idea of predator and victim becomes warped, and so does the notion of familial love.
PopHorror – You’ve already touched on this briefly, but maybe you can elaborate a bit more. You, your husband, and your daughter star in the film. Is there a reason you chose it to be a family thing?
Toby Poser – We’ve been doing films as a family since our girls were 6 and 11. (They’re now 16 and 21.) We all double as crew and, much of the time, as actors. We like inhabiting the characters we are creating – and of course it’s very convenient! So when we are not acting we are shooting. We really love wearing all the hats from top to bottom.
PopHorror – Love it!!! Are you happy with the feedback you’ve received from this film?
Toby Poser – We’ve been thrilled with the film’s reception. The horror scene has been incredibly generous and supportive. It kind of feels like walking into a candy store where everything is fun and exciting and there’s someone at the door saying, “Come on in and have a taste….! Oh, and what do ya got for us?”
PopHorror – You deserve all the good things! What do you hope that people take away from this film?
Toby Poser – I hope people find a fresh take on the murdered girl trope. And I hope they are both moved and horrified by the lengths to which a mother and daughter will go to stay united, even through death. Also where we live and shot is very beautiful in a spooky, cold way. I hope they like the look and feel of the film. Blood and snow are happy bedmates.
PopHorror – Yes, yes they are! Any favorite scenes?
Toby Poser – Without spoiling, I’d say I love the scene where Kurt, the killer, has a conversation in the mirror with “himself.” I love all the haunting scenes. And of course, the pissing scene cracks me up.
PopHorror – Love those too! Who are the women in this industry that inspire you?
Toby Poser – Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook represents something I love about female written/directed horror. It has an emotional depth and intelligence underneath the face-value terror. I like to mine the psychology behind fear and violence, and often female perspective tends to go there. Lynn Ramsay, Julia Ducournau, Issa Lopez…. these are all women who make risky art; who don’t shy away from exposing the dichotomies of the expectations or given perceptions of women and/or motherhood and the more personal truths that we own as such. These filmmakers resist definition because they tell unique stories that are at once relatable and dangerous. And of course, Anna Biller’s work ethic excites me because, like us, she wears a million hats, and I love that.
PopHorror – Great answer. Fantastic women! Any upcoming projects?
Toby Poser – We are about to start shooting a new horror feature called HELLBENDER! It’s about an awkward girl who discovers her ancient blood lineage of women who veered away from the traditional path of their gender. They procreate on their own; they’ve developed powers of influence and performance. How this girl chooses to use her new knowledge is very…. bloody.
PopHorror – Sounds awesome. I can’t wait. Thanks for doing this interview, Toby! Good luck at all your upcoming adventures!