In the new Chilean horror The Stranger, a mysterious man named Martin arrives in a small town at the end of nowhere. He is there to eradicate a highly contagious and dangerous disease that makes sufferers addicted to human blood. His plan is to kill his wife Ana, who suffers from the disease, but soon discovers Ana has been dead for a couple of years. He decides to commit suicide to eradicate the disease once and for all but is brutally attacked by three local thugs led by Caleb, the son of a corrupt police lieutenant – and the incident starts a series of events that will plunge the community into a bloodbath.
To coincide with the release of The Stranger, spearheaded by legendary producer Eli Roth (Cabin Fever, The Green Inferno, Knock Knock) and acclaimed new director Guillermo Amoedo (Aftershock, The Green Inferno), we caught up with Guillermo to discuss the new film, his biggest genre influences, and an impressive filmmaking partnership with Eli Roth.
Diabolique: Were you always interested in making horror films or is this a genre you happened to fall into?
Amoedo: I do enjoy horror movies but I’m also interested in comedies, thrillers, and many other genres. I’ve even written three or four romantic comedies! However, I feel very comfortable working within the realms of horror and, of course, I’ve learned a lot from working with Eli Roth. Naturally, as I became involved in the genre, I started watching more horror films and reading about them because you need to understand your subject. For example, when we made The Green Inferno, we watched a lot of cannibal films very closely. Cinema is such a complex artform that that you pick up techniques and methods which you can later use in completely different types of films.
Diabolique: You’ve been mostly working as a writer for the past couple years. What got you into the director’s chair for The Stranger?
Amoedo: Yes, I’ve been working as a screenwriter for a number of years. I’ve actually directed before but, whereas I’m very happy to give away certain scripts to other filmmakers, The Stranger was really a passion project which I started developing around four or five years ago and I wanted to direct. I had a vision for how it should look and wanted to bring the story to life.
Diabolique: Is there a different approach writing a film you plan on directing yourself?
Amoedo: The good thing is that, when I’m writing a script for myself, I can visualize and shoot it how I want. When you’re working with another director, you’re collaborating more closely. Both approaches are good but it’s just different. Since I can picture a scene and how it should look as I’m writing it, this prepares me, if I’m directing later.
Diabolique: You collaborate frequently with Eli Roth and Nicolás López. How did that partnership come together?
Amoedo: We started working together in 2010 for Aftershock, which all came about through Nicolás. We worked together so well that, when it came to their next film, The Green Inferno, we teamed up again and this time I co-wrote while Eli wrote and directed, with Nicolás producing. Later, Eli and Nicolás also came on board as producers for The Stranger so we’ve worked together many times now.
Diabolique: How do you guys go about tackling a script together and what’s your process of collaboration like?
Amoedo: It’s all very natural and organic. We spend a lot of time discussing the story and characters, their motivations, and then complete the treatment. Then I’ll start the first real draft and we’ll make changes and see the whole piece take shape. As a producer, Eli offers a lot of help in developing the script and also in editing the finished film, which is a great help.
Diabolique: Some people are calling The Stranger a vampire movie, but it avoids a lot of the typical vampire movie tropes. Would you consider the film to be a vampire movie? If yes, what parts of the vampire mythos are you most interested in?
Amoedo: I would say yes, it’s a vampire movie at heart. This word isn’t said in the film but it’s definitely a part of the genre. In terms of the mythology, I love the positive and negatives, such as their healing power as a contrast to killing people and drinking their blood, while living out in darkness. These ideas are definitely less romantic and magical and more about the scarier mythology which is more appealing to me.
Diabolique: This is an English language film that uses mostly Chilean actors. What led you to cast Chilean actors rather than native English speaking actors?
Amoedo: Most of the actors, such as Cristobal Tapia Montt and Lorenza Izzo, speak English and have spent a lot of time in the US. Some actors didn’t speak English as their first language but worked a lot to improve it for the film. However, the main motivation was working with actors we knew well and had a lot of confidence in, so I was really happy with their work.
Diabolique: It seems like you put a lot of emphasis on mood and atmosphere. What are some techniques you use stylistically to get that effect?
Amoedo: It’s never just one technique, but usually a variety of things. I usually try to shoot a scene as simply as possible, not wasting too many shots and just moving the camera to cover as much as possible. The mood and ambience is achieved through many elements such as the lighting, how we frame the actors in the shot, their performances, the choice of music and many other factors, which creates the finished picture.
Diabolique: Do you plan to direct another film after this, or go back to just writing?
Amoedo: I love directing and have a couple more projects I plan to direct soon which are also pretty varied. There’s one horror script I plan to make next year and also another which is more of a mystery/thriller. I like to keep things diverse, interesting, and I always enjoy the challenge.
The Stranger is available now in the UK on DVD and VOD from Koch Media and in the US on Blu-ray via Scream Factory/IFC and VOD via IFC