Exclusive: Writer Jason Scott Goldberg Discusses Shudder’s Gruesome Nazi-Horror Flick STAY OUT OF THE ATTIC : Dread Central
With a title like Stay away from the atticObviously one can imagine that if this door is opened, nothing good will happen. In the case of Shudder’s new Nazi horror film, it’s not just the attic viewers who should fear – it’s the attic, basement, and many other rooms!
A diverse group of ex-cons turn-movers is persuaded by their creepy client Vern Muller (Michael Flynn, The Outpost) to pull an all-nighter for a generous raise. As the night progresses and the rooms are cleared, they slowly uncover the horrors that reign in his old Victorian mansion, including booby traps, human experiments, Nazi monsters, and more. Will they survive the night?
Stay away from the attic is written and directed by Jerren Lauder (Bug Bites); In addition to Flynn, the film stars Morgan Alexandria (Forever My Girl), Ryan Francis (Sisters) and Bryce Fernelius (Ruling of the Heart) play.
Related article: Image gallery: FX Wiz Vincent Guastini discusses his recent projects
To find out more about how this outrageous movie was made, we spoke to one of the writers, Jason Scott Goldberg (Metamorphosis, Flatwoods). Under Jason, everything is broken down, from how the story was made to what happened in the original ending.
Stay away from the attic is now streamed exclusively on Shudder.
Jason Scott Goldberg
Dread Central: You are one of the authors of Shudder’s Stay Out of the Attic. How did this story come about?
Jason Scott Goldberg: I’m a very character-based writer and I wanted to write a story about a moving company for a while. I’ve always loved home invasion movies Don’t breathe and The strangersbut I wanted to approach it from a new angle – contract agents who cannot escape. Throw in a few monsters, human science experiments, an evil Nazi and that’s the equation for an exciting popcorn movie!
DC: Whenever you wrote Stay Out of the Attic, did you already know it would be on Shudder? I imagine you can get away with more on a platform like this.
JSG: I always wanted to Stay away from the attic be a Shudder Exclusive. Being a fan of their service and knowing the projects they are acquiring certainly helped with the writing of the script. I knew the film needed a message as well as water-cooled moments – the extreme violence, the incredible creatures, and the diverse cast would also grab attention. This project was also the first feature of Top Dead Center Film as a new company. After working with Gary and Julie for years without a script, I knew Shudder would be a great partnership. Now all I have to do is fly to Utah and stage a feature under their banner!
DC: During the writing process, would you and the other writers all come into one room and just start tossing ideas around? What did this process look like?
JSG: We met for a few drinks and discussed the project, but I laid the foundation for the story. I was planning to write Atticand developed the characters and the situation, but invited Jerren into the mix. I tend to write on my own because I’m a sucker for deadlines so I finished an outline / synopsis, a thumbs up, and went to town with the script. I would send out completed scenes and then he and his writing partner Jesse would add their torch. I started the script in March 2019 and finished in June. I teased the project at Top Dead Center for a couple of weeks and they bought it in July. There was a round of notes and then Julie added her magic to the script. That being said, I tend to write 4-5 features a year.
DC: There are some pretty bloody scenes in the movie where eyes and tattoos are cut off. What decides how far certain elements should go? Is it about the shock value or about how dangerous Michael Flynn’s character is?
JSG: As an avid horror film fan, you always want to go one step further. From hostel to Human centipedeThe goal is to get the audience to talk and I know what it takes to get my butt into a theater seat (pre-Covid). We were fortunate to have Vincent Guastini as our handy FX guru. He’s one of the best in the business and understands that experimenting with the Nazis is not for the faint of heart. Vern’s villa is a house of horror and we wanted it to be as tacky as possible. There’s also no “nice way” to remove an eye or a tattoo, so we decided to … and did a bloody homerun.
DC: Was there a certain scene in the film that was originally spelled differently? When filming started, did you have to change for one reason or another?
JSG: In the original ending, Carlos was actually dead. We had a post-credit scene where Schillinger crawled over to his body and brought it back to life with the serum. In the movie, Carlos wakes up in the library and that’s it. With a 12-day shoot, there is only so much you can do in the allotted time. Fortunately, DP Brian Sowell did a fantastic job capturing every horrible frame.
DC: What is your favorite scene in the movie? Why?
JSG: I always wanted to turn a bathroom into a gas chamber. I do not know why. I just suck. Well I opened it. Everyone groaned, but it stuck. I just thought it would be interesting to create Holocaust-inspired traps. I’m sure my Hebrew school teachers (don’t) shine with pride.
DC: What do you think makes a good horror film?
JSG: tension and strong characters. Imagination too. Let the audience do the work!
DC: Most of the projects you work on are horror genre. Is that on purpose? If so, what keeps bringing you back to the genre?
JSG: I love the genre. I moved from New Jersey to make horror films. My first short film, metamorphosis was funded from a lawsuit after being run over by a text message driver. Since then, I’ve written over a dozen features, trying to hit each sub-genre (survival, psychology, monsters in space) with different budgets. I’m just a sucker for stories and put characters in “interesting” situations. (Note: Interesting can be replaced by “hellish”.)
DC: Whenever you’re looking for inspiration in writing, is there a “go to” movie that you watch?
JSG: The descent is one of my favorite films – the tone, the location, the psychological elements and the creature effects are stunning. It really is a perfect horror film.
DC: What are you working on next?
JSG: I just wrote some crazy buddy horror / crazy comedy and circulated a dozen scripts. In addition, my hit list function is Flat wood is planned for a summer shoot with Andy Palmer (Camp Cold Brook, Funhouse Massacre) at the helm. I also produce a crazy horror film for Josh Hull – one of the best writers (and brewers) in the business. I came across his script at the beginning of Covid and we just hit it off. We’re supposed to be filming this May. I’m also working on an anthology project with one of my favorite horror vegans, Aaron Mento (Ugly sweater party). I just want to keep working with good people!
Jason Scott Goldberg is represented by Citizen Skull and WPA.
Did you see Stay away from the attic? What do you think of our exclusive interview with Jason Scott Goldberg? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also have the convo with me in person on Twitter @josh_millican.