Howdeshell, of A Common Thread, creates a short film for the band Parcels that is an instant macabre classic.
LOS ANGELES—Director Benjamin Howdeshell shows his mastery of the dark side in Withorwithout, his new horror film/music video about a couple who are the apparent victims of a home invasion in the Hollywood Hills. Set to the song of the same name by the Australian band Parcels, the film stars Milla Jovovich in a tale that ratchets up the tension mercilessly before delivering a deliciously conceived final twist.
Jovovich plays a woman who’s in bed watching TV with her husband (Carsten Norgaard) when they are confronted by a group of masked, weapon-wielding men, played by members of the band. The situation quickly escalates as the couple finds themselves caught in an intense struggle for the lives. Howdeshell punctuates the story with lots of inventive and violently scary moments, made all the creepier through the contrast with the sweet, soulful song by the band.
“I loved the idea of showing these disturbing images against the melancholy disco groove of the track,” says Howdeshell. “The key to making that work was to establish the tension up front, which we do in a very frightening teaser that plays before the music begins. That sets the tone of the piece.”
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Howdeshell, who directs through A Common Thread, produced the short film through his self-named Howdeshell Films. The concept came from Parcels and was executive produced and starred Jovovich, a longtime friend of the director and an ardent fan of the band. The script was written by Howdeshell’s frequent collaborator, Mike Doyle.
The production location was a classic 1960s vintage home situated in the hills above Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. “Working with Milla was amazing,” Howdeshell says. “She understands how to play to the camera, how to use her body, how to create intensity. We were in awe. At the end of the night, watching the climactic scene on monitors was a true ‘Oh my god’ moment.”
Howdeshell’s previous credits include the award-winning short Project: SERA, which he further developed into a series for IGN and 20th Century Fox. He has also directed commercials for HP, Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser, Bacardi and Doritos. Currently, he’s directing an original short film for 20th Century Fox, set in the aftermath of Ridley Scott’s Alien, in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of that iconic piece of film history. This officially sanctioned, latest addition to the Alien universe will be release in 2019.
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