Exclusive: Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead on Their Genre-Bending Feature Film Debut 'Resolution'



resolutionAfter a highly successful festival run in 2012, the genre-defying indie flick Resolution is finally making its way to limited theaters on Friday, January 25th courtesy of Tribeca Films. Directed by up-and-coming filmmaking duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Resolution starts off somewhat normally as we follow the well-meaning Michael (Peter Cilella) on his quest to get his life-long best friend Chris (Vinny Curran) off drugs after receiving a disturbing video of Chris whacked out of his mind and shooting guns at the unseen forces chasing after him in the middle of nowhere (or more specifically - meth country).

But when Michael arrives at Chris' place and forces his friend to confront his addictions and the mess he's made of his life, the duo get far more than they bargained for when things take a turn for the weird and they're forced to deal with a supernatural entity that has infiltrated their lives and taken control in some rather unexpected ways. Filled with well-executed tension and humor as well as some masterful twists on many of our favorite horror tropes, Resolution is a description-defying indie gem worth seeking out and demonstrates that risky and compelling storytelling is still alive and well in the world of indie horror.

FEARnet recently chatted with Resolution helmers Benson and Moorhead to hear more about what inspired their mind-bending tale, their thoughts on defying genre labels for their film collaboration, what the future holds for them and much more.

I'd love to hear more about what inspired the story of Resolution; it has this great unexpectedness to it which I loved. It reminded me of a few other recent indie genre-esque films I enjoyed like Bellflower or The Catechism Cataclysm.

Justin Benson: Oh thanks! I haven't seen Catechism so I'll have to look that one up. For Resolution, all I wanted to do was to write a script that I thought would be scary and to me, stories are far scarier when you really care about the characters because you want them to make it through the film. I knew that if I could make the relationship between Mike and Chris feel natural and give a new twist to that kind of relationship dynamic in a story, I knew that Resolution would work way better as horror movie that way than if I had just used a bunch of generic characters that get killed off every couple of minutes.

It's not that I don't enjoy those movies too- because I do. That's just not the movie we were trying to make so I knew we had to approach everything about it unusually and I think it all really works.

Aaron Moorhead: We also talked a lot about how to approach making Resolution since it’s an unconventional movie and we always knew we'd run the risk of alienating some of our audience. But really, you can't think about those things too hard so we decided that the best way to make Resolution was the simplest- just make it openly and honestly. We just didn’t want to shoehorn ourselves into one category or another because that's what everyone says we’re supposed to- that's not honest filmmaking.

Benson: And Aaron and I never once had a conversation about what genre we were trying to work in either; we wanted to approach everything in the movie like, "Here’s a scene and it’s funny but how can we make it a bit funnier?" or  "This scene is scary now but how can we make it scarier?" but making sure it all serviced the story and these characters. It was always about these characters for us.

How quickly did Resolution come together for you once the story was finished?

Benson: It took six months to write the script, then Aaron and I went off to film the 'stories-within-the stories' parts of the script over a couple of months on the weekends and whenever we could. We were fortunate to have three months to rehearse with the actors and then shot the main parts of the film over seventeen days. It was pretty quick looking back; we were really fortunate that things came together like they did on Resolution.

Did you guys face any sort of challenges along the way at all?

Moorhead: You know, not in the way you'd think; I mean, it’s never easy to make a feature film but all things considered, we were very lucky. We didn't have the longest shooting schedule so there were a lot of  long hours and everyone was pretty much exhausted but we had the right people working on this and everyone came really prepared for anything we could throw at them. We were really fortunate because I've heard a lot of horror stories from other indie filmmakers so I don't think we could have asked for it to go any better than it did.

I want to hear more about your experiences working with Peter (Cilella) and Vinny (Curran). I know you mentioned before that you had three months to rehearse with them before you started shooting- did you guys give them creative license with the parts at all or did they stick mostly to the script? Also, was their chemistry instantaneous because I thought they were both incredible against each other throughout this movie.

Benson: Those two guys are geniuses- really. We wouldn’t have had a movie without them and once we cast them and got them together, we really built this script around that chemistry. Their characters aren’t really similar to their personalities in real life but that sort of antagonistic brotherhood was definitely there beyond the characters. They both brought a lot to the table that wasn't in the script too but that's the kind of stuff- the delivery, the body language- you really can't write either. That was all Vinny and Peter and I think they are both the reason that this story ultimately works.

Would you guys say that Resolution is an accurate depiction of the stories you like to tell?

Benson: Oh absolutely; we're fans of genre films and I think we both take a lot of pride in saying that we now are working in the genre realm too; it's really the only place you find any sort of creativity anymore because filmmakers can make up the rules as they go along and so the possibilities are endless.

But one of my favorite all-time graphic novels is Preacher; the way Garth Ennis brilliantly blends together different genres is the same kind of genre-blending we like to approach our stories with too. Those are the stories I enjoy most and really, independent horror is the only world you can show audiences something new. We always strived to make a movie unlike anything we had ever seen before and so every decision on Resolution was made with that goal in mind.

Are you guys planning to continue making movies together then? Any future projects in the works?

Moorhead: Definitely. I just wrapped up a short and we've got three more features in the works that are definitely the same kind of DNA as Resolution is, with our own unique twists on the genre too of course. Right now we're just focused on Resolution; hopefully fans will connect with it and enjoy our weird little story.