Interview with directress Caroline Du Potet (HOME INVASION)

Caroline du potet

Thrill&Kill: Caroline, I think most of our readers haven’t heard much about DANS TON SOMMEIL yet. What can you tell them about the film without saying too much?

Caroline: It’s a French horror thriller. It’s about a woman in her forties, Sarah, who lost her son one year ago. One night, she accidently hits with her car Arthur, a young man the same age as her boy. He surprised a burglar at his house and he’s being chased. Sarah gives him a lift, and soon a car is in pursuit.
Together they are going to help each other and try to survive a nightmarish night…

T&K:  The film is called DANS TON SOMMEIL in France, the international Title is IN THEIR SLEEP, which means about the same and here it is called HOME INVASION. Is the title something you care about?

Caroline: Sure. The title is very important because it’s the first thing which makes you want to see a film, with the trailer and the poster. It must be a summary of the film’s atmosphere. Unfortunately the director is rarely consulted for the foreign titles. So we can have bad surprises sometimes… but HOME INVASION is ok !

 

T&K: Some elements of the film are known from similar movies but it is still very effective and unique. What makes it so special in your opinion?

Caroline: We wanted to keep several codes of horror films and try to twist them at the same time. I think the originality of the film comes from its dark poetry. It’s not a pure horror film. It’s a blend of suspense and emotional drama with complex characters. The tone is tough, with no humor, to let the audience believe that this story could be a case in the news…

 

T&K: The film starts with a terrible accident of Sarah’s son. On the surface, this element is not that important for the rest of the film, but every time the story gives us some time to breathe, there are some hints in the relationship between Sarah and Arthur. How important is this for the overall outcome?

Caroline: The death of Sarah’s son is very important because it explains why she’s going to take Arthur under her wing and believe in his stories. After that trauma, she is inwardly dead. This boy, the same age as her son,
makes her feel alive again. It’s a meeting between two alone and disturbed people. But their relationship is ambiguous. Sarah wants to protect Arthur as a mother, whereas Arthur is falling in love with her…

T&K: DANS TON SOMMEIL is your debut as a director, which makes it even more impressive. Where were you coming from all of a sudden? What is your background? Who are your biggest influences?

Caroline: Eric and I are brother and sister. We both did the same cinema school in Paris. Then we co-wrote and co-directed six short films in different genres. We decided to continue working together for our first feature film and chose to write a horror/thriller film. For DANS TON SOMMEIL, our biggest influences were Sam Peckinpah with STRAW DOGS and John’s Boorman’s DELIVERANCE for their realistic treatment of violence and their use of nature shots.

T&K: After the success of movies like MARTYRS, A L’INTERIEUR, HAUTE TENSION and FRONTIERE(S) French horror films have a good reputation around the world. For some people it’s enough to read that a certain film comes out of a certain country to give them a chance. Do you think those films made it easier for you to create DANS TON SOMMEIL?

Caroline: Absolutely. We rode the wave of the French Horror films‘ resurgence in the last few years.
But, even if international sales are good, French horror films don’t go well at all in our country.
They always have bad reviews and are considered as pale imitations of American films. We don’t have a strong tradition of horror and frightening stories like in Spain for example. So I fear the next years may be difficult because producers don’t want to produce this kind of films anymore…

T&K: Alexandre Aja, Xavier Gens and other French directors left their homecountry to make films in the USA. Obviously Hollywood is something a lot of filmmakers dream about, do you pursue this goal as well?

Caroline: We’d love to make a film in the US with stars and bigger budget… but not at any price. Since the release of DANS TON SOMMEIL, we have had several propositions from Hollywood’s studios but we often have been disappointed by the quality of the scripts. For the moment, we have other projects in France, but if you only want to make horror films, I think Hollywood is the best option.

T&K: You wrote and directed the film with your brother Eric. What is that like? I would imagine a lot of (creative) fighting between siblings. Did you split up the work or did you share everything?
Do you plan to work together in the future?

Caroline: There weren’t a lot of creative fightings between us because we grew up with the same film influences. We write the script together. We just try to discuss a lot before the shooting in order to agree on all the details and not contradict ourselves in front of the crew and the actors. On the set, I like staying with the chief operator, facing the
actors. Eric prefers standing back behind the combo to have a general view of the scene.
For the moment, we have planned to continue working together. Being two directors makes the decisions easier…

Mick: Talking of the future: What will your next project be? Do you want to do another horrorfilm?

Caroline: Our next project will be very different! It’s a drama about the true story of Ferdinand Cheval, a French postman who decided at the end of the nineteenth century to build a castle in his garden… regarded today
as an extraordinary example of naive art architecture. But we are still interested in coming back to thriller/horror genre if we find a great project in the future.

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