This Order is a psychological horror film that follows a painter as he embarks on a new project. Forced to tackle his own mental health, he descends into the void: looking inwards, listening to the body and the mind, in order to find the truth.
In this interview Amber, !GWAK staff and Production Designer on the film, chats with the guys about mental health, creativity and what they want to say with the film.
AB: ‘This Order’ has clear themes around mental health and creativity-why are these important to you guys?
DM: Mental health has always been a topic I I've been a strong advocate about because of how little you see on a surface level. I wanted 'This Order' to be based around a painter, a creative, who suffers from things I, and others in the field, can relate to. Anxiety, social pressure, and overthinking their own art. It's important to me that we show more people just how scary mental health is and how it can affect youths, even if it means literally showing it on camera.
LA: To me, when I think of mental health and movies, I don’t really think of it as, like, a theme. I feel like it’s just something that the movie is about. It’s a
bout, you know, a person and the subjective experience-no matter how objective you try and make it. The whole point is that the audience is gonna connect with what they’re seeing. So, in every way, it’s always about mental health to me. I just feel like that comes with every single story. I mean, why are these themes important to me? They’re about people. They’re about human beings, everyone deals with it.
AB: So, for you (Dylan) it’s a way to express those shared feelings in the hope it will help others and perhaps tackle the taboos around mental health?
DM: Exactly that, I feel like mental health has such a negative connotation around it, especially when talking to parents-I know in the South Asian community at least. To the point where it doesn't feel the support is even there. It's like a dying plant that gets ignored instead of nurtured. By having the painter alone for a month, you'll really see just how bad suffering alone can be.
AB: Dylan, it’s clear there are lots of parallels between yourself and your character and we can see you’ve begun the transformation to embody him. How do you think acting as him will help you grow: creatively and personally?
DM: Most of the acting will be things I've experienced myself-OCD and anxiety being the strongest. Honestly, I'm petrified cause it means going down a path I'm very familiar with, and scared of, in order to show it to the public-when it's something I've tried all my life to hide. I can only hope by acting as the painter, I can grow creatively and personally, knowing that it's out there. Almost therapeutic? We'll see, I'm nervous.
AB: Levi, how do you relate to the character of the Painter?
LA: One of the hard things about this is that it was Dylan’s idea, and he had his own kind of experience with mental health, which was his OCD, and I didn’t have that. And also, Elliot who also worked on the script didn’t have that either. So, for me, writing the film was a way of me trying to find a way in, of ‘what’s my thing?’, even if it’s not like a disorder. What is it that hits me every single day? And for me, it was the idea of death and constantly feeling that every day was going to be my last day. That’s why the quote is the one at the start of the film.
I had a dream that I was like, sleeping and so sure that the building was just going to collapse because someone would just leave the oven on or some shit, and I would just definitely, definitely die. But I was okay with it. It can be a bit of a hazard sometimes but that was how I connected with the character. It was that feeling of a sort-of exhaustion.
AB: I admire what you’re doing man, it’s definitely a brave journey. How does the biological horror element link in to this mental struggle?
DM: Everything has life to it; a plant won't physically tell you with its mouth that it's depressed, but without sun and water it'll start to die. Bio horror to me is the closest we can have to portraying what mental health problems feel like without the use of dialogue. In the teaser we decided on a sticky black tar with hair, and without saying anything, creates this uneasy atmosphere. For 'This Order' I want that times a million. Kinda like a symbiote you know? Or things that people can relate to and recognise, objects that may look like a heart, a lung or other bio parts. Not some ghost or ghoul cause c’mon, that ain't it.
LA: For me, I think (the biological horror element) was like a natural thing. Julia Ducournau-she directed ‘Raw’-she said something which is really interesting about bodies and stuff: no matter who you are, you can’t control who your body is. Your body is almost like a separate person. If you get diagnosed with diabetes and it’s in your family, you know there’s nothing you can do to stop that. You can be the nicest person and it just wouldn’t make any difference. You know, whether you got cancer or not. So, it always had a mind of its own. And I think that with everything going on with the spiritualism in the movie and trying to listen to your body, the only way to physically have something that was tangible to the audience, that they would recognise, and still find frightening, was having something that was to do with human biology.
AB: What were you trying to say with the trailer?
DM: To me the trailer takes place a month or so before This Order.
LA: We wanted to start the film before the film and have something where we could have the character (the painter) related to these other characters in the house. And he would juxtapose these people against himself, so this mental state would be available to the audience in a way that we couldn’t get in the film.
DM: It may seem outlandish and edgy but, in a way, it relates to a situation many are in. When stripped back it shows someone getting his head shaved, clearly not close with his roommates, and picking a note up from the floor. Again, surface level. It's not until you hear the music, hear what's in the fridge, and see the black substance do we break into the second level, mental health. I guess what I wanted was to show people that there are more things than just what's "literal" and in front of them the more they watched it.
LA: The whole thing with shaving his head and what that meant and why it was the way that it was- I don’t want to get in to that because I think the feeling of it is more important.
AB: Levi, your Directing style definitely pushes emotion and atmosphere to the forefront; how do you go about translating these on screen?
LE: I think that, if there’s any style, then that’s just coincidence from what I’ve done so far. I’d hope that everything would be different in some way.
You can find out more about ‘This Order’ and donate to the crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo
Dylan Mascis: @mvscis
Levie Aluede: @levisnafu
Amber Bardell @amberbardell