An obsession with the psychotic: Brock PhD student creates full-length horror film

Horror 2

Brock graduate Kevin McGuiness has finished creating the first full-length film to come from the Interdisciplinary Arts department. The film was directed by McGuiness and coproduced by he and Tessa Little.

His film, A Likeness in Stone, is about a character named John who ultimately seeks to bring himself answers surrounding the death of Helen, a woman he loved.

John, is played by Josh Sanger, a third-year Dramatic Arts student at Brock.

“John is a very dark character, not something I’ve really played before,” said Sanger. “There’s a lot of inner struggle with him. Each interaction he comes across, he gets closer to where he wants to be.”

McGuiness saw Sanger when he performed in a showcase for Brock Improv and after tracking him down, both were excited to begin working on the film.

“It was weird because the role Kevin saw me doing was actually a funny role, but I guess he saw something in me,” said Sanger. “I’m used to playing more comedic characters, and I was getting frustrated because I was being typecast as the ‘funny guy’ all the time so I was excited to take on this part and sort of mature as an actor in a very different role.”

McGuiness is no stranger to the horror genre however, as his main area of studies are literary and filmic representations of psychopathic and sociopathic personalities, with an emphasis on American Horror films dating back to the 1980s. He obtained an Honours Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts in 2005 as well as a Master’s degree in Comparative Literature and Arts in 2008. He is currently enrolled in the PhD in Interdisciplinary Humanities at Brock University.

“I was watching a lot of early Alfred Hitchcock films such as Rebecca, Notorious, Spellbound, and this film has a similar tone to it,” said McGuiness. “By no means am I trying to suggest it’s at the same level as a Hitchcock film, but I think it certainly echoes similar ideas.”

McGuiness is hoping to make another full-length film in summer of 2017 and plans for it to be an out-and-out horror film, in comparison to the more psychological thriller he’s just finished. He stated that Sanger will likely play another feature role.

“Horror is really a genre where you can deal with things that you can’t really deal with in other genres such as obsession, fixation or pathology,” said McGuiness. “You get it a little in drama but you certainly can’t touch it in comedy. There’s also a split between mainstream and independent horror and often with independent horror you can deal with matter that’s a little more intelligent or complicated. You can’t always find subject-matter in mainstream horror as being dealt with the same way because they’re focused more on sensationalizing the audience.”

McGuiness is focused on recreating and bringing a new life to the classic genre of horror in opposition to the more highly violent and gruesome tactics used in many modern films.

“It’s a genre that has really split in the last 10 to 20 years,” said McGuiness. “You have horror in the tradition of classic horror, like Hitchock’s Psycho, and then there’s the splash and gore and the two genres have really been conflated by a lot of critics. I’m not a fan of gore. I’m much more interested in films from the late ‘70s, which saw the birth of slasher films. I want to make a film that hearkens back to that tradition of good suspenseful horror.”

McGuiness is currently in the process of applying and submitting A Likeness in Stone to various film festivals in both Canada and the United States, planning on having a local viewing in the near future once it has completed its festival circuit.

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