21 Days Review & Interview

 

 

 

21 Days gave me an eternity of fear

 

A Film Review and Interview

 

 

By Stephanie Hensley

 

 

In 2014 I started following a project called 21 Days from a female filmmaker named Kathleen Behun. I was always a fan of supernatural films such as Amityville Horror (1979), House (1985), and Poltergeist (1982)… I even enjoyed the first Paranormal Activity (2007).

 

 

Let me give you back story on my love for creepy haunted house films: I grew up in a house where things often went bump in the night. As a kid, my entire family had experiences that would deem us crazy if spoke about them in the wrong company. The house I grew up in (the whole neighborhood was actually riddled with houses that had untold horrors) had a presence that even as an adult I cannot explain. Now at 33 I sometimes recount the horrors with my family, and to this day the memories still make the hair rise on my arms.

 

 

Anyways, enough about my traumatizing childhood in a haunted house… Back to the point of this musing that I find myself currently engulfed in… I constantly keep an eye out for a good haunted house film, so when I happened upon Kathleen Behun’s 21 Days, I was intrigued and excited. I followed her updates about the film and eventually contacted her about doing some artwork to help her promote the beast she was creating. I did a few paintings and from there I sat back and watched this dream of hers become a reality.

 

 

Well, here we are in 2017 and Kathleen’s creation is available for the world to watch. The film was picked up by Gravitas Ventures and has officially been unleashed into the universe. 21 Days has countless festival official selections and wins… And after viewing the flick… I know why.

 

 

The premise is simple… Three filmmakers lock themselves in a house that no one has been able to live in past 20 days. Their goal is to make it to 21 days. With outstanding performances by Max Hambleton, Whitney Rose Pynn, and the adorable Mickey River this film delivers first rate entertainment and the chills that one should get with a paranormal romp.

 

 

I watched 80 minutes of horror and without noticing the transition I was soon so engulfed in what was on the scene, I was living it. Kathleen and team deliver a chilling creepy tale unlike any found footage film I have seen to date. Effective shots, seamless editing, and talented cast allow 21 Days to join the ranks of some of the best supernatural flicks made. The subtlety of the film leaves you feeling like you are being watched… it causes you to see things out of the corner of your eye… and it will make you sleep with the lights on!

 

 

As stated above, I did like the first entry in the Paranormal Activity films, but 21 Days delivers something that Paranormal Activity did not… A kick ass ending that was not over the top. 21 Days did not pull any cheap shots… I fully appreciate the creative story telling opposed to over the top jump scares!

 

 

Kathleen is a director to watch for sure. I had the chance to ask Kathleen a few questions… So read on to find out a little bit more about this filmmaker and 21 Days ….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Hensley: What inspired 21 Days?

 

 

Kathleen Behun: I’ve always said the idea for the film was first born out of frustration. I had another feature spec script; a supernatural thriller, which for five years had been financed on five different occasions with financing falling through each time for a myriad of reasons. I realized the years were passing and I still hadn’t directed my first feature, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and write another script that was low budget enough I could self finance, yet commercial enough to attract studios and distributors.

 

21 DAYS was partially inspired by all of the paranormal investigator shows that had become popular on television, especially those where a group of investigators lock themselves inside a house for one night to capture on film the supernatural phenomena which occurs. I thought one night would be scary to be locked inside a haunted location, but even longer, say 21 DAYS, without any way of getting out, would be utterly terrifying.

 

I was also influenced by a few true stories I had read about where people had abandoned their home; leaving behind all their belongings, and even letting the house fall into foreclosure, because they were too terrified to live there any longer due to the paranormal events that were apparently occurring.

 

 

I also loved exploring the notion that it’s not the house that’s haunted or evil, but rather the land it sits on. This is the story behind the now shuttered, New Mexico State Penitentiary. The paranormal activity at this old prison has been well documented over the years and the Native American belief in the region is that the land the prison sits on is evil and has been since time immemorial.

 

 

SH: What was the most difficult part of making a found footage film?

 

 

KB: The most difficult aspect of it is that you have to constantly justify:  Who has the camera? Why is it on?  And what exactly is being filmed or not filmed? Instead of making the process of telling the story more liberating, it actually constrains you as a filmmaker, as it limits your ability to control the narrative, and in particular, how you create suspense. The very nature of found footage robs you of what I call the psychological POV; where the camera can be anywhere and you don’t have to justify why you’re shooting a particular angle since it’s really no character’s POV. However, this specific POV helps provide insight into the mood, tone or psychology of the film and/or character. For example, an aerial establishing shot of a family slowly driving in a car up a mountain road toward a creepy, isolated old hotel, like the infamous scene from THE SHINING.  

 

 

I would never do another found footage film again. Many critics feel it’s an easy film to make, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s the most difficult kind of film to make. I can’t wait to return to traditional narrative filmmaking. But please, watch 21 DAYS first!

 

 

SH: What do you have planned next?

 

 

KB: My next feature film is THE MAPLE HOUSE; a psychological/supernatural thriller. This was the original project I wanted to do prior to, 21 DAYS, and has been my passion project for years.

 

 

Now the fun stuff:

 

 

SH: If you could have any superpower in the world... what would it be?

 

 

KB: Telepathy.

 

 

SH: It is Man Crush Monday... Who is your man crush and why?

 

 

KB: Seth MacFarlane.  There’s nothing sexier or more attractive in the world than a smart man who possesses a wicked sense of humor.

 

 

SH: Marvel or DC?

 

 

KB: Marvel

 

 

SH: What is the scariest film you have ever seen?

 

 

 KB: It’s a tie between THE EXORCIST and the 1976 version of THE OMEN with Gregory Peck.

 

 

SH: If you could work with any celebrity dead or alive... Who would it be and why?

 

 

KB: Marlon Brando. He was the best ever. I can’t think of an actor today who comes close to possessing that same level of talent.

 

 

SH: Last book you read?

 

 

KB: I recently re-read Joseph Conrad’s, HEART OF DARKNESS. The beauty and power of that prose haunts me.

 

 

SH: Any real life ghost story that you’d like to share with our readers?

 

 

KB: Many years ago, a friend of mine and I were travelling through New Mexico and spent the night in Gallup; a small town located on the edge of the Navajo Indian Reservation. We stayed at one of those roadside motels; the kind you see in small towns around America. The next morning, before I woke, I had a dream that someone was telling me some horrific story. I don’t remember the specifics, but all I recall feeling was that it was deeply disturbing and I wanted whomever- or whatever- to stop. At this point, I opened my eyes to discover a Native American man kneeling by my bedside; he had been whispering in my ear. I can still see him as plain as day: He was in his late 30’s, with long black hair, wearing jeans and a faded purple shirt.  

 

 As soon as I saw him, he rapidly stood up and ran; disappearing around the corner as he headed toward the door. Of course I panicked, thinking some strange guy had broken into the room. So I shot out of bed, ran to the door to discover: The door was locked and the sliding chain bolt was securely in place…

 

Still, my senses believed there had been a man in the room. So I unlocked the door, opened it, looked down the hallway to discover…Nothing… No one was there.

 

 It gradually dawned on me that it was impossible for someone to have gotten into the room while the door was locked, and then leave and lock it again, from the inside. That is, no one from the physical realm…

 

My friend was asleep during this whole ordeal, but I told her later what had occurred. It’s my gut feeling this male apparition had been murdered in life, and was desperately trying to tell me what had happened to him. I sensed his death had been particularly brutal and he wanted someone to know about it.

 

 

Even though this happened to me many years ago, I still think about this man and his spirit clearly not at rest…

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