Nathan Crookers’ Horror Playback

If you took The Strangers, House of 1,000 Corpses, Halloween, and Quarantine, rough chopped them, threw them in a bowl, and violently stirred, you’d have a juicy mouthful of the tasty brilliance of Nathan Crooker.

I’ve been a horror lover all my life and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to them. I am very hard to impress and leave in awe in this area. I consider myself the horror expert of MarsDust and you know, EVERYTHING in movies has been done. But when I saw a 3 minuet horror short called Playback, I was beside myself. Not everything has been done in horror, until now….

“Revelator Films is a production company specializing in the making of stories, which focus on the darker elements of the human condition inherent within our challenging society. We strive to create, develop and produce high-quality drama, psychological-thriller and horror for the worldwide audience.” from the website.

Life is one continuous take. How long did you have to rehearse the to not trip or make for shaky filming? It’s so smooth and flawless moving.

“First let me say that the movie IS ONE CONTINUOUS TAKE,” Crooker started. “People have been trying to discredit me and my team and I’m not quite sure why. We busted our butts to make it happen and I’m proud to say we did it. We shot the entire film in ten hours. We rehearsed for about 45 minutes just to get the timing right for all the elements that needed to be put into place, but then we just said screw it, lets shoot. I didn’t want it to get stale.”

I believed him the first time he said it. Everyone else can bite it because there have been very successful directors that have done this in their movies, successfully.

In The Shining, master of horror Stephen King did the Tricycle scene for 3:02 as a one take shot. It worked that way brilliantly because of the interrupted silence of the wheels hitting the wood floor in between carpets; it felt like we were stalking or someone was stalking Danny and it leaves the oh crap, what’s next feeling. King was smart to do this in one take.

In Rope by Alfred Hitchcock, of the 10 segments done to complete the movie, each segment is longer than a 4 minuet of a one continuous take.

And the master of all one take shots is a 96 minute movie, Russian Ark. The entire movie is done once. THE ENTIRE MOVIE.

“The flawless camera work was done by a very talented DP and filmmaker named Nick Snow who also did the score which is my favorite part of the film,” he continued. “Originally we were using the DJI Ronin, but it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be at least for us. So we dismantled the rig and Nick ran handheld on a Canon 300 pulling his own focus as we moved through the seen.”

This is only a horror short for now, but I begged him to know if it would be an entire movie. I was hoping and actually on my knees when I asked him that in an email.

“There will be a full-length film. I am putting the finishing touches on the feature right now. It will be produced through my production company, Revelator Films and with my business partner John Micheal Kennedy,” he said, “the script is damn scary and stays true to the essence of the short. Along with Playback, Devil In Manhattan will be another feature. Besides that I’m involved with producing, through my company, two other features that are funded and scheduled to shoot next year. I’m also excited to say we are finishing the edit on a horror movie I produced called Until Someone Gets Hurt starring Micheal Welch from Twilight. Since the film went viral we have had a lot of interest from investors and other production companies that want to co-produce the film with us, but we have not said yes to anyone yet so if your reading this and want to be a part of it please email me.”

Ok horror and thriller loves, empty your wallets and bank accounts. You’ve already seen the short; let’s make this happen! When I watched it I saw so many other horror movies and a few true crime stories, so where does this dark and askew thought puzzle come from?

“I wish I could spill more blood here, but the truth is it was pretty simple. I have always been fascinated with the idea of fate. There are those that say you can’t change it. I wanted to do a film that questioned this,” he stammered, “what if we interrupted someone’s fate? What would happen? In the film we see that interrupting it leads to a transference of one’s fate onto another.”

I offered up my soul to know where this inspiration came from. I wanted to get into the depths of his psyche and know what part of life, experience or nightmare this came from as a part of catharsis for him. He neglected to answer that the first time I asked and then told me he liked to stay mysterious. Damn it! So if this is playing hide-and-seek up in that beautifully scary mind of his, does anything scare him? Are there any movies that would have him watching it between his fingers of his hands covering his face?

“Honestly, what scares me the most are well done horrors about demonic possession because I believe in this. The Exorcist, to this day, still gives me chills, but more so after the film is over and I’m by myself or in a room with someone possessed. I think Friedkin nailed it!” he exclaimed with excitement. “My production company Revelator Films is seeking finance at this time for a feature I wrote called Devil In Manhattan that is a new take on a possession film and scary as hell! I’ve been told people have had to turn on all the lights after reading it.”

This man has excellent taste in directors and time decades for good horror.

“But it was the 70’s that had the horror films down and the scare factor in check. Playback is and homage to films like John Carpenter’s. In the 70’s they didn’t have a buck to make them. They sweat blood and mucus to make these films out of a passion for telling a story and say something about the world we live in. We had a wooden nickel to make Playback.”

Wooden nickel? Was Lincoln helping him with this movie as well? That is scary!

“When I go to see a horror film I want to be terrified and have it stay with me after I leave the theater or shut my TV off. Most horror films these days don’t even come close to that. I think Playback will make you think twice about any decision you make.”

I asked him to explain or expand on what he meant by the movie making us think twice about decisions.

“I wouldn’t say “any” decision, but if fate could be transferred, I think one would question what they would intervene in. Even as simple as yelling for a friend’s attention who’s about the cross the street and a car would have hit them had you not got his/her attention. The possibilities are endless and could drive one mad. I like that.”

What kind of background, or better yet, childhood would Crooker have to have had? Or what horrors won’t he tell us about that this all stems from?

“I was a stubborn child and never wanted to go to bed on time, but instead watch TV. My mother made me a deal. I could stay up and extra hour but I had to read. A little reverse psychology lol. At this point I began to submerge myself in adult horror novels such as Stephen King, Dean R. Kootz the incomparable Clive Barker and Arthur Rimbaud’s Season in Hell. These stories shaped me. I lived in these wild horrific worlds at night and thought about how I could create my own during the day. I was never able to watch horror movies as a child, yet oddly I was left alone with these books. I think this was far worse as I was able to visualize how it all played out. So it’s funny that I want to make horror movies, but have no intention of writing a novel,” he embellished.

Shit, it sounds like he had my mom for a mom; she was my intro into horror and a lover of these writers as well. Crooker, are you my brother from another mother?

“As I got older I would sneak to a neighbors house where we would stay up all night and watch horror movies he rented from the local video store. Am I dating myself here? I would watch them all no matter how bad they were. I couldn’t get enough. I feel John Carpenter, old Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven, Michael Haneke. These directors gave us horrific films that not only scared me, but consciously wanted to make a statement bout the world we live in,” he said and I think those dirty looks from him are telling me to stop interrupting him or just to shut up!

With a common theme of good versus evil in most horror, some thriller and much of psychological themed movies, how does religion play into this; or doesn’t it?

“I was brought up Catholic, but I don’t practice,” he stated, “I believe in a higher energy and I have my own beliefs about how to live life and what will happen to me when the candle burns out. The great thing about any religion is rich with metaphor, symbolism and good is always battling evil. I love horror, but I have written other scripts in the drama and thriller realm. Granted they are definitely creepy and delve into the dark side of the mind. I feel like I can express myself and my ideas about the human condition across may different genres and keep to my ecstatic.”

So tell me a chunk about your background in movie making and how you got to where you are now.

I left college and started an internship with GoodMachine in New York City. My mentors were producer Mary Jane Skalski (Mysterious Skin, Fur and the Visitor), James Schamus currently of Focus Features and Glen Basner currently CEO of FilmNation,” he said, “these giants of the industry fused an excitement for writing, directing and producing my own work, though this would not come to pass for a few years. I was always available and learned as much as possible about the production process. I figured if I could grasp on all aspects of what it took to make a movie it would only make me stronger or want me to run far, far away from this insane field. But, now I’m here making a name for myself in this industry.”

And boy is he ever. This multi-talented many behind the scenes can also be seen in front of the camera, as lead opposite of Rosario Dawson in This Revolution, 2005.

His introduction into the entertainment industry was stage work for Wonderland Theater Company back in 1999. He wrote, directed and acted as much as he could to dominate and soak up as much experience as he could. He would then start directing commercials for companies such as Miller Lite, New Balance, and Chevy. From one driving venue to another directing music videos for Type O Negative and Soulfy.

Favorite scary movies? Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, In Fear, Calvaire, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, High Tension, Them, and Martyrs.


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