Marc Evans on his new horror phenomenon My Little Eye
A surprise critical and audience hit at this year’s Edinburgh Festival, My Little Eye is a claustrophobic Blair Witch twist on Big Brother, with five ‘white bread’ young Americans spending six months in a spooky mansion under the constant glare of hundreds of surveillance cameras beaming out a 24-hour webcast. Events take a sinister turn in the competition’s final week - are the organisers trying to scare the contestants into leaving the house and forfeiting their prize, or is there really a serial killer on the loose? The tension proved too much for one nervy Edinburgh patron, who had to be escorted from a late-night screening after suffering a panic attack during an especially fraught scene of bloodshed.
Relaxing in his hotel suite the next day, genial, fast-talking director Marc Evans takes this as a compliment: I think it’s great in a way I don’t really go out to upset people, but it’s quite nice to get some kind of effect, admits the 41-year-old Welshman, who points out that his previous feature produced similar results. I never had a screening of Resurrection Man where there wasn’t a walkout. That movie’s controversial take on the Ulster’s murderous 70s ‘Shankhill Butchers’ gang provoked plenty of attention, but made little box-office impact. My Little Eye, however, is already being hyped as this year’s big horror hit.
Evans denies he set out with a box-office bonanza in mind: It’s high-concept, but there was also the idea of trying something that was current, and scary, and not ironic or post-modern and jokey or anything. With Big Brother, there was a new urban myth to exploit there was a new phenomenon on the block. But it may never chime with people watch the show, and if you say ‘This film is based in Big Brother’ then some people might be very disappointed by it, because it doesn’t use the rules or the atmosphere of that particular show.
The director says he’s a fan of the notorious living-fishbowl programme kind of. Like everybody, he laughs, I have a completely love-hate relationship with it. There’s a massive feeling of self-loathing about watching it, yet I watch it. I watched every series and I still quite haven’t got to the bottom of what it is that’s so compulsive. But it is compulsive, and also quite horrible at times. There’s an underlying cruelty and danger to it, though it’s played out pretty safely on the TV show.
There’s nothing safe about My Little Eye, already hailed by Radio 1’s movie expert and horror nerd as the year’s nastiest movie. Evans gleefully steers the Big Brother format into much more dangerous cinematic territory: It’s in that tradition of the old spooky house going back to Psycho and before. That house keeps popping up in different forms, and it was great to be able to have a crack at it. I do like the dark, weird cinematic things, that’s what you aspire to make if you’re lucky enough to get the chance.
See Jigsawlounge for full interview.