IN CONVERSATION WITH LEROY KINCAIDE
Director Leroy Kincaide’s supernatural horror THE LAST RITE, centres on medical student Lucy (Bethan Waller), who’s plagued by sleep paralysis. Stalked by a demonic entity, she turns to Father Roberts (Kit Smith) for help, but unbeknownst to Lucy, the church has instructed him against performing an exorcism.
In conversation with FRIGHTFEST, Kincaide discusses his personal experiences of night terrors and sleep paralysis, the strange occurrences on set, and his decision to realistically ground the supernatural.
FrightFest: Behind the on screen story, there’s the story of the making of the film. Are there any tales or moments you recall that might surprise the audience to know?
Leroy Kincaide: There were a few nights where the lead actors genuinely felt there was something weird in the house. I’m not saying a ghost, but something to that effect. There were a couple of times where one of the paintings wouldn't stay on the wall. It was one of the main paintings inside of the house that Father Roberts passes in the hallway, and is drawn to.
One evening we were all chilling out, waiting to set up for the next shot. It was about 2am or 3am, and the picture leapt off the wall. The one actress was a bit worried, but she liked it. She thought we'd encouraged something to happen. I said, "No, we don't need that.”
FF: This experience is in keeping with your own experiences, that inspired the film. Could we say it’s art imitating life?
LK: THE LAST RITE was inspired by experiences I had when I was younger – night terrors and sleep paralysis. The possibility of that happening again doesn't scare me, but there were a few times where I had this recurring event. I call them events because I'd like to say they were dreams, but they penetrate you differently to a dream.
It's the same sort of scenario, but there's this random feeling when you wake up out of this dream like state. The only thing is once you've woken up you can't move. You're in this state of paralysis and you end up being subject to this entity, or whatever is running around the bloody room. It’s a harrowing ordeal because any articulation of it doesn't do the experience justice.
FF: What were you subjected to during these events?
LK: I guess you'd say he was an aborigine, who’d come into my room. He’d be shirtless and wearing a grass skirt. He'd be swinging a rope, at the end of which was something like a boomerang (a bullroarer). They make this weird whirling sound, and I remember this guy spinning it around. I can't remember how I got out of these situations, but they happened multiple times. It was terrifying, and then there was another one where there was a shadow figure that stood in the corner of the room and didn't move. The one that stood still was worse than the other.
FF: My criticism is that the conscious awareness of trying to craft a dream in a film, prevents it from being authentically dreamlike. With your experiences of these “events”, I’d be interested to gauge your thoughts on the limitations of cinema to authentically express dreams and nightmares.
LK: You first have to think about is as a filtration system. You've got the person with an experience, passing on a “Chinese whisper” so to speak, that feeds into the script, and then that gets filtered through the actor. You do your best to convey what you have an experience of. Now I understand that not everyone is going to have an experience of the supernatural, and some people will not believe in it, but they're making a film about it. Some people will make a slasher horror, but they don't research into what someone thinks about moments before they're killed.
I'm the type of filmmaker who believes in immersion. I believe the research is a part of the storytelling vehicle itself. The only thing I can say is I serve the perspective as true as I can when it comes to portraying it. With THE LAST RITE, it was actually the process of being inside a dream, waking up in your own space, feeling like you’re awake, when in fact you're still in a dream - then you wake up.
This was one of the elements I was able to convey, but regardless of any experience I could share with anyone else, it will never feel like the authentic experience I had. The only thing I can do is explain it in the best way possible, to allow people to have their own perspective.
FF: How did you use the cinematic form to convey in a realistic way these experiences?
LK: What I was able to serve was when she's asleep to when she wakes up, and realises she was actually asleep, because that’s when the paralysis attack happens.
It's about subverting and distorting reality a little. There’s the moment when she wakes up, and we're looming above the bed, bearing down like an ominous presence, and you see the little bust to the side. The reason for the tilting and camera movement changing was because when you wake up inside of a night terror attack, shapes and things appear to move, and feel somewhat weird and obtuse. It’s something I can remember - it doesn't feel like reality even though it is. I wanted to bring in as much POV as possible, without being ham-fisted. I wanted to keep these experiences grounded. It's not out there Hollywood, but that was the intention because the way things happen is very internal to the individual experiencing it.
THE LAST RITE was released on April 4 by Koch Films, and is available via Sky Store, Virgin Movies, Apple TV / iTunes and Amazon, as well Google Play, Rakuten TV and Xbox.