For our third edition of MovieMaker‘s Guide to Making Horror Movies, we asked indie multi-hyphenates Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass, who have re-teamed this year to deliver Creep 2, the sequel to their acclaimed sleeper hit Creep, to be our guest editors.

The two are relative rookies in the genre. But actor/producer Duplass’ comedy and mumblecore roots, which welcome uncomfortable on-screen situations with open arms, have allowed him and Brice, the director of the Creep films, to stumble by happy accident into fresh horror territory. In the following introduction they wrote for our special, the duo explains why they’re exhibit A in the case for horror as the most alluring of all cinematic gateway drugs.—MM Editors

Our relationship with horror movies is somewhat complicated. Both of us are dads with little-to-no spare time on our hands. If we get to the point that we are able to actually sit down and watch something it’s rare that it will be The Conjuring or Evil Dead 2. Once you find yourself in the business of making movies and TV, your viewing habits shift. And when we do find the time it’s usually the first 20 minutes of whatever is on HBO or Netflix before we pass out. This is all just full disclosure that normally we’d be the worst people to write about the “State of Horror Today” for MovieMaker’s third annual Guide to Making Horror Movies.

That said, here we are, about to release Creep 2, a sequel to one of the most widely seen horror films in the last couple years. We can speak from personal experience that the land of horror films must be a fairly interesting place if it allowed the two of us to be accepted. We are living proof that the horror genre is a place that nurtures and celebrates experimentation. These are films made on the smallest scale possible. The term “skeleton crew” does not even describe the experience. We love keeping things bare bones because (while the found-footage element allows it) we have endless freedom to play and adjust if the material demands it.

When making the first Creep, we thought we were making something that would feel contained and be a funny, sad, and dark character study of a strange interaction between two men. It was only when we’d cut everything together and started showing it to people that we realized the strange power this film holds in creating discomfort and fear. The movie leaves a lot of empty space to be projected upon, and audience reactions are wide-ranging.

We could not have made a film like this and have it be seen by as many people as it has if it wasn’t for being labeled and marketed as a horror film somewhere down the line. We are so grateful to have been embraced by the community in the way that we have. This is proof positive that the genre can be more welcoming than any other. While we were initially nervous about what diehard fans would think, we ultimately found that it was because we were making something that felt new and different that the film found its audience.

Moving forward with this knowledge, moviemakers will hopefully keep bringing out the truly strange in both subject matter and approach. And given where our country is politically, maybe the question horror filmmakers need to ask themselves is: How do you scare people when real life feels scarier than ever? We’ve seen proof that this can be done just this year with the success of Jordan Peele’s Get Out, an incendiary barn burner of a film that proudly wears its social commentary on its sleeve. How wonderful that it took a horror movie to prove you can inject the personal and the political in a way that is thrillingly inclusive and entertaining at the same time.

There’s a reason people become so obsessed with these movies: You’re watching something made by moviemakers who are willing to go places “normal” movies dare not go, and doing it in a genre that gives them permission to be unconventional.

The fact that we can carve out our little place in the horror world means it’s a great time to be making scary movies. Thank God for the masochistic thrill seekers that make up horror audiences. We’re happy to be here and can’t wait to see where things will go next. MM

This article appears in MovieMaker‘s 2018 Guide to Making Horror Movies special in the Fall 2017 issue (on newsstands October 31, 2017). An expanded 2018 Guide to Making Horror Movies is available now on Amazon as an eBook.

Creep 2 is available on all digital platforms October 24, 2017, courtesy of The Orchard.