A Conversation With There’s Something Wrong With The Children Director Roxanne Benjamin

By Chris Hammond

One of the most exciting new voices in horror over the last few years Roxanne Benjamin just released their follow up film directorial effort to Body at Brighton Rock (2019). The film is entitled There’s Something Wrong With the Children is a horror/thriller that will make you squirm and scream. Benjamin may not be on everyone’s radar, but you’ve seem their work and probably not even been aware. They’ve directed segments for the V/H/S found footage franchise films, Creepshow (segments Lydia Layne’s Better Half and Skincrawlers) and countless other horror genre offerings.

I had the chance to get a few minutes to discuss the new film with her. Below are segments from that interview.

There’s Something Wrong with the Children is intense, but it also has elements of classic genre greats like The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery. Roxanne explains her affinity for anthology films and Tales from the Darkside. They also explain why there’s a difference from these stories compared to the new film.

RB: Yeah, I’ve done a couple episodes of Creepshow, I was always a huge Tales of the Crypt fan. I grew up on it when it was on HBO in the 90’s and then, you know kind of coming up making anthology films like the V/H/S series and Southbound. There’s always this kind of comeuppance kind of story, Twilight Zoney story or DNA, I guess built in to the stuff that I do. It feels a little less like that to me though, because I think with all of those what kind of sets them that makes them what they are is you have a first act and a third act. It’s kind of like, the set up the initial like here’s this person’s problem and then here’s like the twist or something right into the third act and this has a little more meat on it.

Full answer can be heard below.

There was a substantial search for the children lead characters of Lucy and Spencer. Benjamin explains how she knew she chose the right actors in Briella Guiza (Lucy) and David Mattle (Spencer)

RB: They both had such kind of poise I think. You know we saw a lot of audition tapesand they were very poised and very deliberate. It’s just kind of a camera presence thing you know, then I did, we got on Zoom and did some “in person” auditions with them ahead of time too and just kind of talking with them you get a sense of their personality and their ability to take direction and everything. Luckily casting kind of narrows it down to your top 40 or so (40 or 50) and then we look through those and we widdle down from the original 600 or so and keep going down, going down until you have the final couple of folks you look at. Then you meet with most of them and they just had such screen presence I would say, such an ability to like flip in and out of this mode of like I’m just an innocent kid to something else is here.

Full answer can be heard below

Kids don’t have all the same life experiences of older seasoned actors. I asked Roxanne how the kid’s were able to grasp certain situations that arise in the film and how the process works especially in dramatic situations

RB: It’s interesting, you kind of take that into account as a director. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to talking to actors, every actor has a different process. It’s the same with kids, like you might not necessarily even talk to an adult actor about necessarily like “think of an experience that’s like this experience” some much as the emotion and intensity of a scene. It’s less about kind of recalling necessarily like something you feel this way or situations been in like this vs. talking just about the emotions they might be going through.

Full answer can be heard below

Following up with the kids and the emotional ups and downs on the film Roxanne explains how she keeps the kids comfortable on set. She also gives some insight on what working on the set is actually like compared to what the audience sees in the films.

RB: It’s never like that on set. That’s one of the big problems I think, I mean especially making horror. So much of it is in the editing and the sound design and score and sound mixing. So much of it is built there, like the actual horror of the movie is built there vs. like when you’re making it most the time you’re like “This looks so dumb” it’s not scary at all, no one is going think this is scary what are we doing. So it’s never really like that on set, even when you’re doing like all of the gore stuff like it’s more like just fun than anything.

Full answer can be heard below

The film takes place in what really feels like an isolated location away from the prying eyes of civilization. There’s good reason for that as Roxanne explains how all the cast and crew we stuck

RB: In this movie in particular too we were you known kind of all stuck at location, because our base camp was so far away. That house and those two campgrounds are like way back in the woods down a dirt road at the end of a dirt road and our base camp was a couple miles up the road. So, you were basically at the set the entire time. They (the kids) have their school room and everything because they have to break for school and there’s places for people to go chill, but normally base camp is much closer and people are off in their trailers or out doing other things. None of that was there we were all kind of like stuck.

Full answer can be heard below

A big thank you goes out to Roxanne Benjamin for chatting with me and explaining some behind the scenes details of the film There’s Something Wrong With The Children which is out On Digital and On Demand – January 17, 2023
On MGM+: March 17, 2023

Check our full review of the film here (with no spoilers)

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