In the Trap, it will be released at the cinema on January 23, by Alessio Liguori on his debut to the direction. He engages in a psychological horror with an international scope. We met Alessio that tell us about the reasons and the genesis of his first feature film.
by Lucia Mancini
«I was on the phone right now with the distributors in Vietnam: it’s panic. Alessio Liguori welcomes me at the door of Mad Rocket Entertainment, the Italian independent production company born in 2015 and founded by him together with Daniele Cosci, Alessandro Risuleo and Simone Bracci. The panic, with a totally positive meaning in this case, is linked to the release the next day in Vietnamese cinemas of In the Trap, his first feature film, which will also stop in Canada, the United States, Russia, Korea South and, of course, Italy, arriving in our cinema on January 23, 2020 distributed by Zenit Distribution.
In the Trap is a horror film that tells the story of Philip, a lone proofreader trapped in his apartment, too scared to leave and obsessed with an unknown evil force that has kept him prisoner for the past two years. Horror shades also for Shortcut, the other film directed by Liguori which should be released in Italy around June 2020. «For me it’s fun to do horror, I grew up with these films, but obviously I want to do other genres too. Working on films of this type is first and foremost a good industrial choice that allows you not to depend only on state funding, provided that obviously a quality product is made with universal languages and codes». As universal as an exorcism can be, for example, present in the work, but certainly not its essential element. At the heart of In the Trap, in fact, there is a drama, a story with profound psychological implications. «We could remove the whole horror part from the film and we would have a metaphor on the growth and transmutation of a man. The real exorcism, the real fight in the film is what the protagonist does with the demons of his past. Exorcism is certainly a key point of the film, but in addition to a practical function it also has a metaphorical one».
To make this moment better on the screen, Liguori and the screenwriter Daniele Cosci took inspiration from a film like The Exorcism of Emily Rose and, at the same time, they tried to create a staging as realistic as possible, watching many videos of real exorcisms and speaking with priests who really deal with these phenomena. The choice to embrace a realistic vision meant that, in the film In the Trap, people are not seen flying or walking on the ceiling, making the whole situation ambiguous: «When you see something like this, you don’t know whether to believe it or not. The skeptic will not believe it, while the believer will see an exorcism in it. The approach to the film was basically this, so as to allow the viewer to get an idea for themselves». Having opted for the path of realism, it was essential to be able to find a cast that could bring perfect interpretations to the screen without the aid of special effects, obviously giving the right weight also to the drama part of the film: the choice fell back on actors such as Jamie Paul (Black Mirror), Sonya Cullingford (The Danish Girl, The Mummy), David Bailie (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Gladiator), the Italian actress Miriam Galanti, Paola Bontempi and Robert Nairne. «There is a policy in Mad Rocket and in Dreamworldmovies of Luigi De Filippi, that produced the film with us, that is to make works that can be distributed internationally. A native English speaking cast was certainly fit for purpose. Going back, I would have no doubts and would choose the same interpreters again, they were exceptional».
The type of story and the setting were also fundamental to make In the Trap an exportable product: the house where Philip lives, with his non-Italian architecture, is a sort of second protagonist and metaphor of his spirit, built in every single detail in the studios of the Latina Film Commission, while outdoor shooting was performed in Cornwall.
The gestation of the film was quite long: despite the excellent reception obtained in international markets, finding a producer who believed in the project was not easy, but in the end it was also achieved thanks to the teaser trailer that has been running for years. The result, however, seems worth the effort: «The film seen is creepy. The projection that took place at the Trieste Science + Fiction Festival was crazy, with a more than positive response not only from the press but also from the public: on leaving the hall I heard the people who were still talking about it, which is the result that i would like to get with my movies. I’d like to be able to communicate nice messages with my works. In the Trap, in the end, this is exactly what it does: at the center of the story there is no horror element, but we talk about love and faith, and I hope that everything from the film arrives directly to the viewer».