- Henry Northmore
- 12 February 2018
Scottish director discusses his latest film The Black Gloves and reveals big plans for Fife-based Hex Studios
Horror loves iconic imagery. Jason’s hockey mask, Freddy’s striped sweater and razor-clawed glove, and Leatherface’s mask of human skin and revving chainsaw are instantly recognisable symbols of fear. Writer Sarah Daly and director Lawrie Brewster are attempting to create something with a deeper, more cerebral impact with the Owl Man. An amalgam of history, myth and pop culture, taking inspiration from ancient gods Moloch and Minerva mixed with elements of the Tall Man from Phantasm and internet horror meme Slender Man. A mysterious figure dressed in a Victorian tail suit with viciously sharp claws and an inscrutable strigine face, the Owl Man made his debut in 2013’s Lord of Tears and returns in Hex Studio’s The Black Gloves.
Taking inspiration from 40s, 50s and 60s films such as Sunset Boulevard, The Innocents and Rebecca, Brewster describes The Black Gloves as a film noir psychological thriller with supernatural elements. ‘It concerns a psychologist trying to overcome his guilt about a patient he couldn’t save and a new patient who has an obsession with this entity known as the Owl Man,’ says Brewster. ‘During the course of the story, who is rescuing who and who is a hero or villain, changes a lot. It’s a metaphor for gender identity and the politics surrounding that. Not that it’s preachy but it provides a perverse commentary.’
Brewster is a passionate advocate of horror, a genre that is often overlooked or dismissed. ‘The benefit of horror is that it is a means, at least in my opinion, of expressing ideas in their most adult, uninhibited form. It can talk about any issue but without the boundaries or restrictions that would be in place in drama, for example, in the form of realism. In a nightmare, there are no boundaries.’
Hex are a truly independent studio based in Kirkcaldy. Brewster admits fundraising is the biggest hurdle for film in Scotland, which means reaching out to investors in places like the US and the United Arab Emirates. Crowdfunding is another important resource, and Hex’s most recent round for The Black Gloves was the most successful horror Kickstarter in Britain, giving Brewster the opportunity to shoot new scenes with Nicholas Vince (Hellraiser).
Hex have big plans. Inspired by Hammer Horror, they want to establish a new studio in Scotland specialising in horror, increasing production to three films per year. ‘I realised that if you want to make horror films that are a bit different you need the infrastructure to make them and distribute them,’ explained Brewster. ‘Hex Studios will see us financing, making and distributing films independently. We want to create ambitious stories that are a bit different, focused around creating strong intellectual properties, characters and concepts.’
At the same time, Brewster hopes to break down the barriers between fans and filmmakers. ‘Traditionally there’s always been a big divide between the audience and creators. We want it to be your studio too and with our YouTube channel, Kickstarter and even Facebook, we’re accessible, we’re trying to have this new openness so fans feel like they are part of the studio.’
The Black Gloves is available to pre-order now from hexmedia.tv and will be distributed in Feb (date tbc).