Roar writer Dafne Selimoglu interviews Alex Lightman, the director of the new interactive horror film, “Night Book.”

Horror is one thing, but interactive horror is completely different. In these films, the audience has the opportunity to make real-time choices and deal with the consequences. Alex Lightman, a British director who has worked on many projects over the years, has just come out with “Night Book”, an interactive horror film, and spoke to us on the challenges and future of interactive filmmaking.

Roar: How would you describe “Night Book” for our readers in your own words?

Alex Lightman: I guess as an interactive short horror film. The story, at its core, is about a woman who is trying to stay in control and do what’s best for her family.

R: In terms of what you drew inspiration from for this project, what movies or directors come to mind?

A: I guess it’s a bit obvious, but in a way, “The Shinning” – how it’s not the ghosts that are the horror, but actually the humans. How terrifying it is, the things that we could do to each other rather than what an abstract force can do to you. Also, in terms of music, in “The Shining”, the attention to it is amazing. I love “It Follows” as well, how everything is so woven into the characters and the cinematography. So, overall, those two, and as I said, to me music is a big part of horror, and both of these movies are quite deliberate in their choice of music.

R: Was there a reason why you chose this project to be interactive rather than just a short film?

A: The producer definitely saw a lot of potential for this story from the interactive perspective. I think interactive is a really exciting space, a bit of a revival space at the moment, and there is so much opportunity [in interactive] to step into what storytelling is about. Seeing interactive as an ‘ape to man’ evolutionary chart, interactive filmmaking is the first step for making such a new medium. It just feels like the next step.

Then you go into things like interactive gaming which is a much more achievement-based medium. So, taking the structure and linear storytelling, and applying that to an achievement-based medium is very interesting. The audience is so much more invested and complicit in some ways, and feeling everything so much more. There’s a lot to do as a filmmaker if you go that way, so let’s do it! 

Julie Dray in Night Book. Picture by Wales Interactive

R: Would you say that interactive horror is on its way to become its own subgenre?

A: I think it can certainly head that way. We’re right at the beginning of this interactive resurgence, and never again will I be able to say I was at the beginning of a format, almost. It’s amazing, we’re kind of writing the rules as we go along, and making mistakes, and learning what we can do, and what doesn’t work and what does work really well. It’s a very unreleased format, so when you make a horror film in this format, you aren’t competing against hundreds of other horror films, you’re kind of discovering the language as you go. And I do think there’s an opportunity [for it to become its own sub genre] because it’s so involved in the story and immersive. 

R: Were there any challenges relating specifically to this project being interactive?

A: Many! Well, the obvious one is that there is a kind of continuity nightmare, and also a consistency of performance. So, whatever route you take, the scenes make sense and the emotion is consistent. We were just very lucky to have such amazing actors – that’s the trick to good performances, it’s casting amazing actors. And just the sheer amount of stuff you need to shoot, I mea,n we’re talking 220 pages [of script]. It’s a lot compared to traditional linear moviemaking challenges.

“Night Book” is available now on Steam (PC & Mac), PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and iOS.

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