by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)
Horror remains the clearest path into the ranks of professional screenwriters. Horror films are cheap to make, have amazing returns on investment, and are always in demand at the box office. I recently spoke with two writers who are making a name for themselves in the horror genre. Bobby Roe and Zack Andrews are the co-writers of The Houses October Built 2, the follow-up to their successful 2014 film. Bobby also directs and Zack produces this new release. We spoke about the challenges of coming up with fresh horror concepts and what draws them to the horror genre.
Angela Bourassa: How did this film come about? Had you always hoped to write a sequel to The Houses October Built, or was this purely the result of the first film’s success?
Zack Andrews: We always looked at the first film as a part one and the ending as an intermission. Luckily, the movie got a fan base and was successful, so the studio wanted a sequel. Bobby and I felt like, “Okay great… now we can do the second half of this bigger story.”
Bobby Roe: The Haunt World is too vast to be told in less than two hours. There were always places we wanted to explore with perpetuating the myth of The Blue Skeleton.
Angela Bourassa: What were the challenges you faced in bringing these same characters together in a new film?
Zack Andrews: The obvious challenge is “why the hell would these friends go back and do this again?” [Laughs.] But hopefully we answer that in a believable way. I mean… spoiler alert from the first movie, but my character says, “Nothing bad actually happened.” I think for Brandy, though, there would be more convincing, but I think we addressed that in a very character-honest type of way.
Bobby Roe: I hope the core chemistry of our group brings you back or at least on the ride for these movies. It wouldn’t make sense to break up that realism. Besides, I learned long ago with A Nightmare on Elm Street 2… you lose Nancy, and you have no connective tissue.
Angela Bourassa: What draws you to writing horror?
Zack Andrews: It gets in your blood. But seriously, I think it is a genre that allows writers, filmmakers, and actors a chance to try new and original ideas… maybe push the envelope and take some chances. I would think and hope that would be attractive to anyone in the arts.
Bobby Roe: You can have a great pitch, an innovative story, and not have to worry about star power.
Angela Bourassa: How do you come up with new ways of scaring jaded audiences?
Bobby Roe: We have always been a fan of the slow burn. The jump scare every seven minutes is not our M/O. We want you to breathe, take it in, relax… then you won’t see us coming.
Angela Bourassa: Contained horror is obviously a great way to break into the ranks of professional screenwriters. Any tips on how to come up with a contained story that will frighten and entertain audiences?
Bobby Roe: Do your research and write what you know/love. We were obsessed with Halloween and haunted houses. It was our youth. But when we found out as Americans we spend over $8 billion on Halloween and 35 million people a year go to haunts and no one had put that on the big screen… well, that was our in.
Angela Bourassa: Where do you go from here? More horror, or would you like to branch out into other genres?
Zack Andrews: I think we should be grateful to play in this space for a little while. We have other ideas, as I’m sure most people do. We have a script really close to our heart that an 80s throwback, R-rated comedy. One day, one day. [Laughs.] We also are releasing a children’s book in October called Narah and the Unicorn. It was another creative outlet that we are really proud of. But honestly, the pitches and scripts we are going out with and the meetings we are taking stay focused around horror. We were brought on for the past eight months to rewrite a script for some of the producers of The Walking Dead, and we couldn’t be more excited or lucky to be involved with that feature.
The Houses October Built 2 is in theaters and available On Demand now.
Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.