DN regular Casper Balslev returns to our pages with a wickedly entertaining short horror film brimming with tension. Whilst his Danish western End of the Rainbow focused on the hardboiled tension of modern masculinity, I Dare You focuses on the inherent curiosity of those much younger, teenagers. Following two young women as they dare each other to do increasingly obscene feats of audacious activities, I Dare You doesn’t let up on the tension until the film’s final moments. It’s a lean, uncomfortable and wildly entertaining short that’ll have you on the edge of your seat. DN spoke with Balslev about developing the film’s pace, working with younger actors, and Tom and Jerry.
Where did the idea to create a coming of age horror short come from?
I have had the rough idea about two young characters who challenge each other in my head for a while now. But, I was ultimately inspired by the cast. I had Maja and Clara, the two girls featured in the film, in for a casting session on another project. Me and my Producer Sara Samsø thought they were really cool characters. I sat down and wrote the script based around these kinds of characters and this kind of age.
Could you talk about the process behind writing that script and deciding on each of the different dares?
I wrote the script relatively fast. I wanted it to be very conceptual and fast paced. I visited the script for Psycho, just to study how that film addresses suspense and its many frantic beats on paper. I wanted a similar style in this one.
I wrote the script relatively fast. I wanted it to be very conceptual and fast paced.
I wanted the dynamics between the two girls to be the centrepiece throughout the film, and have the horror element slowly come in. Have them grow older with the events throughout the film if you will. The first dares are rather innocent and quirky. The last ones are more dark, personal and eerie.
I loved the pace of I Dare You, it’s really gripping and none of the tension ever gets lost. Was this something you worked on in the script or did it come together in post-production and the edit?
I wanted the film to be really snappy and tight as a starting point. I kept referring to Tom and Jerry as the structure in pre-production. The pace was something I detailed within the seven page script. But, of course, in the edit we challenged this. We even cut out a few dares that we felt slowed down the pace of the film.
Simple question. Did you use a live spider? How did that work?
Yes, it was a real spider. Maja who had to hold it was very cool and brave in doing so.
How was the process of working with younger actors in general? What did they bring to the film?
Maja and Clara who play the two protagonists had no experience with filming or acting. We had them in for a screen test and they worked really well. They did not know each other so I had them hang out before the shoot to get to know each other. Like street casting, I think their lack of acting experience added something authentic and pure to the film. Something not too polished or acted. They did really well. Off course we had to do a lot of takes here and there and challenge them to deliver their performance in many different ways.
Do you see yourself continuing to work in the horror genre?
Yes, I love horror. I grew up on tons of horror and suspense.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on a few more horror ideas. Shorter and longer ones. I also just got home from Thailand where I have been documenting the vivid and dark sides of Bangkok by night together with my cinematographer on I Dare You, Joao Botelho.
I Dare You is one of the many great projects shared with the Directors Notes Programmers through our submissions process. If you’d like to join them submit your film.