Q&A: Chris Trebilcock on The Dark Stranger

The fantastical horror film The Dark Stranger is released today at Cineplex Yonge and Dundas. Last fall, when the film played as part of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival, I had a chance to talk with director Chris Trebilcock about his motivations behind The Dark Stranger.


What’s
the film about?
It’s about a young woman who’s an
agoraphobic artist and she begins work on a new graphic novel , only to feel
that a character that she created is trying to come into the real world, who is
tearing her life apart.

What were your
inspirations behind the film?
Originally, it was just writing something that could
be done for a fairly low budget, but it eventually became about writing about
an artist dealing with depression. Lots of artists deal with depression and
struggle with that, I have in the past.
What if depression was manifested in like a demon or
something that went to artist to artist, trying to get them to kill themselves?
I never seen that done before. So, that’s really what the film is about:
artists dealing with depression and overcoming it.
What was the
best thing about the production of the film?
We shot primarily in my house and we’ve since sold
the house and my father and I live in an apartment now. But, growing up I shot
all my short films in that house, so it was nice that my first feature film
would be made in there as well.
It was great working with terrific actors, Katie Findlay, Enrico
Colantoni, Stephen McHattie, Jennifer Dale, Mark O’Brien, and producers Paula
Devonshire and Glen Wood were fabulous and very supportive. It was a great
experience.

What were some
of the challenges with the film?
Well, also shooting in the house. When you bring a whole
film crew into a house for twelve days, it gets very cramped very quickly. We
were shooting at the tail end of winter and the heat went off in the house and
I was living there at the time.  And I
had to sleep at night in the house that had no heat whatsoever, so I had to
sleep with a sweater on and a toque, so that was a bit of a pain. We got
through it.
We had one scene on a soundstage, where we built a set,
where at the end the characters go into the comic book world to battle The Dark
Stranger. So, that was a challenge, but the production designer Lisa Soper did
a fabulous job.
What is one
thing you want people to know about The Dark Stranger?

That’s a tough question. I think it’s a film that
entertains and thrills, but it also has something to say about dealing with
depression and it’s a positive message about that. We can overcome the demons
inside us. As someone who has struggled with depression, and I know many people
who have, it’s nice to know that there’s a story that encourages you. That you
can beat this.
The Dark Stranger opens today at Cineplex Yonge and Dundas

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).