In To The Moon,
A weekend of healing for Dennis and Mia becomes a hallucinatory nightmare when Dennis’ estranged brother arrives and begins to distort their sense of reality.
During the process of creating To the Moon, there were five films that remained touchstones of inspiration to me. These are some of my favorite films to watch when the weather gets cold and the days are darker. I think the power of a good film can make you nostalgic for a period of time you’ve never experienced.
There were many films that inspired me but here are those films in no particular order:
Check out the full list on Horrorville here.
1. Hour of the Wolf by Ingmar Bergman
Thankfully I was not introduced to Ingmar Bergman’s films until my late 20’s. I fear that if I watched them any earlier, I wouldn’t have the deep appreciation for them as I do now. Hour of the Wolf in particular struck a chord with me. I love the classic set up of a husband and wife retreating to an isolated cottage and eventually descending into madness. I love the ambiguity throughout the film, what’s reality versus what’s happening in their minds. I think one of the reasons why I’m so drawn to the isolated cottage trope is because of how it speaks to the metaphor of the mind being a house of horror. As someone whose imagination runs wild, especially while lying in bed at night, the significance of nightmares and imagery from this film are eternally burned into my brain.
2. Don’t Look Now by Nicolas Roeg
There’s a lot of visually connective imagery and themes of absence from Don’t Look Now that inspired me when making To the Moon. The use of red herrings in this film is brilliant. Also, from the technical side, the way scenes are edited with cross cutting and associative editing was an element I was excited to play with in my film. What I love about Don’t Look Now is that the horror is subtle and emotional, but the reveal of the killer at the end is one of the most outright horrifying moments of all time.
3. The Vanishing by George Sluizer
I saw this film for the first time in my high school film club and it scared the absolute hell out of me. There weren’t any jump scares or anything supernatural. It was the slow build of the unknown and the horrors that humans are capable of. Thematically, I really wanted to experiment with that in my film. To keep everything as rooted in reality as possible and let the tension build out of the unknown amongst the characters. In addition to the tone of this film, the protagonist’s unwavering commitment to help his girlfriend is a trait that I wanted to imbue within the character of Mia in my film.
4. Rosemary’s Baby by Roman Polanski
Krzystof Komeda’s score has to be one of the most evocative and iconic scores of cinema history. The juxtaposition of the gentle high pitched instruments used in the lullaby mirrored against the dark themes in the film is a big chef’s kiss for me. This film is a perfect example of the claustrophobic thriller. A theme that plays very heavily in my film is gaslighting and manipulation and no one did it better than Guy Woodhouse. One of my favorite elements of this film is how grounded everything is. You never see anything supernatural in the world, only in Rosemary’s dreams and subconscious. The way the film uses outside elements to seamlessly drift from reality into Rosemary’s dream was a huge inspiration for the nightmare sequences in my film. True terror doesn’t always have to come from a demonic underworld, sometimes it comes from the people closest to you.
5. The American Friend by Wim Wenders
I watch The American Friend at least six times a year. Although it is not horror or even horror adjacent, it is probably the film that left the most indelible mark on the making of To the Moon for many reasons. When coming up with the look for the film, my cinematographer and I were heavily influenced by Robby Müller’s incredible camera work in this film. Between the costumes, the color, the score, the acting, there’s an undeniable fun energy that punches out of the screen at you. Everyone looks like they are having the time of their lives making this film and ultimately that is what I wanted to emulate.
- Scott Friend
Scott Friend is a New York-based filmmaker whose first feature, To the Moon, is currently available VOD from 1091 Pictures, after playing at such festivals as Nightstream Film Festival, American Film Festival, Panic Film Fest and Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival. He was awarded the Director’s Award from the Polish Film Institute at AFF’s 2020 U.S. in Progress program. As an actor, he recently appeared in the Gotham Award-winning film Fourteen, directed by Dan Sallitt, and The Dark End of the Street, directed by Kevin Tran.