Horror-on-Sea interview with In2ruders director Naeem Mahmood

In2ruders (2018)

Director: Naeem Mahmood

Writer:  Paul Danquah

Stars: Caprice Bourret, Bloom Twins, Samuel Anderson, Tony Hadley, Ricki Hall

When a rising twin sister pop duo refuse to sign to a powerful record label, their lives take a dark turn.

Date & Venue: Friday 11th January 22:30

Park Inn by Radisson Palace, Southend, Church Rd, Southend-on-Sea SS1 2AL, UK.

In2ruders is a new horror short from director Naeem Mahmood which has been selected to play at Horror-on-Sea Film. I got a chance to ask Naeem Mahmood a few questions about what we can expect from the film.

In2ruders has been selected to play at the Horror-On-Sea Film Festival, what can people expect from the film?

Glorious, beautiful, cinematic fucked-upness.

You are collaborating again with writer Paul Danquah who co-wrote your previous film Brash Young Turks (2016). What attracted you to In2ruders when you first read the script?

There wasn’t a script to begin with. Just access to shoot in a 16th century stately home that belonged to Isaac Newton. I was like ‘I’ve gotta cause some havoc in here!’ I also stumbled across the dark pop music duo Bloom Twins on a modelling site and I was like, ‘I’m gonna work with you!’ I approached Paul with these components and a rough concept about a powerful record label forcing an artist to sign their soul to the devil. He began constructing a script filled with psychological horror and blurred lines between dreams, reality and hallucinations. This gave me the canvas to let loose, to work instinctively and artistically. 

What were your inspirations for the look and style of the film?

I just let my subconscious drive me. It’s a pop music industry nightmare which I imagined would have a bold, fashion-spread-from-hell aesthetic. ‘Balmain’ and ‘Versace’ style glamour mixed with eccentric vintage garments, lavish masks and surreal headpieces that I felt went with the conspiratorial tone of the film. 

The film brings together a talented cast including, Bloom Twins and Tony Hadley who are probably more recognised for their musical contributions. How did they become involved in the film?

I instinctively knew that I had to work with a mad mix of talent that would be drawn from all areas of the pop culture landscape. I ended up with an incredible ensemble that also included super model Caprice, Doctor Who star Samuel Anderson, style icon Ricki Hall and Megan Burns of 28 Days Later. I chased up their agents and managers, sent treatments, character mood-boards. I had a precise vision of how they were going to be portrayed. I was confident they would jump on-board because the films characters were larger than life, very distinct, appearing in a very ambitious film. That doesn’t come around every day.

What makes In2ruders stand out in the horror genre?

It’s tackling the dark underbelly of fame in a daring, provocative and surrealist manner. It doesn’t shy away from anything. It explores the beauty, darkness and fragility of life through relationships, sex, violence, drugs and altered states all awash in strobe lights and a red hue. 

Were any elements of the original script changed during filming?

A lot of elements changed mainly due to financial and logistical reasons. And I don’t always think in terms of beats and plot points. Sometimes it’s a feeling, an intuition. Some scenes were improvised such as the dreamy West End sequence with Samuel Anderson and the Bloom Twins, which was shot guerrilla style – no permits or permission. Tony Hadley’s ‘creepy crooner’ wasn’t in the shooting script either. I felt that the nightmarish torture scene (that he appears in) wouldn’t be complete without his character.

What was your favourite moment during filming?

Seeing Tony Hadley play the devil reincarnate! I had grown up watching him on Top of the Pops and MTV. Having him on my set was an honour. His enthusiasm whilst shooting in the early hours was a joy. He didn’t wanna stop filming! 

Did you experience any issues during the filming of In2ruders

Trying to wrap shooting with the twins before their Visa expired! I remember filming with them a few hours before they had to leave the country to fly back to their native Ukraine. 

Do you have any other projects which you are currently working on?

I have several projects in development including a three-part series, a feature film, a couple of shorts and a music video. The dream project is a film that you haven’t seen. You don’t want to do a remake of something you’ve already seen.

If someone is looking to get into directing, what advice would you give them?

Stay on the side of beautiful failure, as opposed to safe success…

You can find out more about the feature films playing at Horror-on-Sea Film Festival and details of tickets on the website.

Philip Rogers

Philip Rogers

Published in various websites, Philip is a reviewer who is best known for his interviews and media coverage of independent projects including; films, books, theatre and live events. Always on the lookout for something different to cover!