Frightfest London interview: Demonic star Dustin Milligan Simon Fitzjohn August 21, 2015 Editor's Choice, Film4 Frightfest, London, London Interviews 1358 Dustin Milligan is a name (and face) already known to genre fans thanks to his turns in the likes of Slither, The Messengers and Shark Night 3D over recent years. The affable Canadian actor returns to the genre with haunted house/possession/found footage mash-up Demonic, which gets its European premiere at Frightfest on Friday, August 28 (ahead of a September 7 DVD release). Milligan stars as John, drawn to a house in the middle of nowhere along with a bunch of ghost hunter pals as he believes (and hopes) it may provide an answer to the horrific visions of his late mother that plague his dreams. But things are never that simple, and soon John finds himself at the centre of a series of events that go very, very wrong… Having enjoyed the film, we were delighted to get the opportunity to chat to Dustin in Los Angeles and talk all things Demonic. Here goes: Q. A simple question to start, but what attracted you to the film to begin with? You look at Demonic and it’s a horror movie with a bunch of kids heading to a haunted house and then some bad things happen, and it sounds like a lot of other horror movies. But what I liked about the film is there is a little bit more going on – there are elements like found footage in there, but it is driven by the plot rather than doing it for the sake of it. It is a very quick film (Demonic barely hits 80 minutes) but I would still say it is well-paced, and it is not what I would call a passive viewing experience. Q. Your character John is very much ‘grey’ rather than ‘black or white’ – we’re not sure whether to believe him or not, or whether what is happening to him is true. What was he like as a character to play? He was a very interesting character to play. He is a guy who thinks he has a handle on things but he really doesn’t. He has this past that paints a different picture of who he is – you’re not totally certain what this guy’s intentions are or that he is telling the truth. What really drew me to the character was that he was not someone who started out as one thing and then switched quickly – with John he was ever-changing and then spiralling. Q. The film covers a lot of horror/thriller sub-genres – we get police thriller, haunted house movie, possession film and even found footage – how would you describe it? I would describe it as a horror-thriller – it is not gore and scares the whole time. I would like to think you become invested in John and the rest of the characters and how they are feeling. It does straddle the sub-genres and I think it does it well – I love the fact that we managed to work in found footage, but it is not overdone. It is used well to serve the plot. Q. You’ve obviously done your fair share of horror films – Shark Night, The Messengers, Slither etc – what do you like about the genre? Any favourite films at all? I’d say at a push sci-fi fantasy films are my favourite genre, rather than horror films. In terms of horror films I know it’s a cliche, but I really love The Shining. I think to really enjoy a film sometimes you have to let go, and if you start obsessing over all the details it doesn’t become fun anymore. What I do like about sci-fi and horror is that it forces you to use your imagination in a way that you are perhaps not used to. The problem now though is a lot of horror movies have these huge budgets but are written and put together by studio executives. There seems this push to make things found footage as they seem to think they don’t have to take that much care over it. It seems strange to me that so many horror films seem to take place in a world where horror films don’t exist – like people carrying on filming in found footage films when you would never do that. If you are painting something that you say is meant to be reality then at least make it real. Q. Demonic was actually filmed back in 2013 and has been awaiting release since then – in fact it still doesn’t have a US release date. How frustrating as an actor is it to see a film you worked on sit on the shelf? I have been doing this now for about 12 years and you are sort of forced to accept that it is a business at the end of the day. You hope to fulfil your dreams and achieve all that you want, but the reality is that it is a job. You just have to do your best, try to enjoy it and hope that you learn something along the way. As an actor you realise you are just one piece out of about 100-200 other pieces involved in putting a film together. It is not up to you if a film gets released when you want, or if it even gets released at all, and that is disheartening. You just have to let it go sometimes, which is why I’m so happy that the Frightfest audience will get to see Demonic on the big screen. But, as I say, filmmaking is a business and you just have to respect that. Q. You have worked as much in TV as film – do you prefer one over the other? If I can find an opportunity to learn and get better then that is where I’ll go, and television just has more opportunities some times. At a push I would say I prefer film, as I love telling a story succinctly over a set period of time and that is it. With television so much of it is open-ended, and you never know if you’ll get to finish the story as it relies on you getting another season. Q. Finally, what’s up next for you? I’m off to Budapest after this interview to continue working on the television show X-Company. It is set during World War II and I play part of a team of spy recruits. MR: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Dustin – it’s very much appreciated! Thank you – I’m really glad you enjoyed the movie!