Elizabeth Fies: A Horror Film Director


Anna Odell, Staff Writer

Each year, as the Halloween season comes around, people love to watch scary movies. Whether it’s A Quiet Place by John Krasinski or Hereditary by Ari Aster, the anxiety and suspense of these movies are what encaptures horror movie fanatics. Elizabeth Fies, film director, knows all about this movie genre and, during a presentation to Ms. Nicole Zaidi’s Creative Writing class, detailed what goes into making a horror movie. 

There are quite a few subgenres of horror movies; suspense, the supernatural,  and mystery are a few. Each subgenre is different in its own way whether it be the amount of gore or suspense, and people tend to be attracted to specific genres for different reasons.

“Even if you’re a scaredy-cat like me and don’t like to see scary things,” Fies added while explaining why people are attracted to horror movies. She prefers the suspense of horror movies to the actual “scary” aspect. On the other hand, some might actually enjoy the blood and gore of movies like Braindead. Her point was that you don’t have to be fearless to like horror films. 

One of the main reasons people like watching scary movies is because it subconsciously relieves anxiety. 

“We have our own anxiety” Fies stated, but “you’re replacing your anxiety with theirs and there is resolution and an ending to it, and you get to practice regulating your fearful emotions.”

She explained how at the end of the movie, you’ve reached the end of the plot, and you’re okay. In a way, we set aside our real-world problems during the duration of the movie, and by relieving the anxiety we get from the movie itself, we subconsciously reassure ourselves that everything, including our actual problems, will be okay. 

There are many different ways to build a horror story as well. At one point during the meeting with the class, a fake monster came up from behind to scare her, and her camera turned off for a few seconds. 

To establish this scare or jumpscare in this case, she created a scenario. Fies’ scenario included many aspects of horror that were established by Fies herself. 

“I established that I was alone. I told you I was in a cabin in the woods. I told you I was scared last night and that the dogs were barking at something and [that] I was afraid that someone was outside. Then I distracted you to build suspense. Then, you got to be privy to something I didn’t know.” 

All these combined caused suspense, confusion, and anxiety which Fies highlighted as key components to any horror movie. 

Fies’ career in the film industry is not bound to the genre of horror. For example, she was chosen to be an extra in the second season of Power Rangers.  She “was the first stunt woman to be in one of the monster costumes” because she knew martial arts. Fies also talked about the experience and how it was an amazing opportunity for her. There would be moments in which the costume would get extremely hot and that, during filming, she almost accidentally stepped off of a cliff. 

Whether she was in the movie or directing it, Fies always had a lot of fun because cinema is something that she enjoys doing. Fies elaborated that as a kid, she didn’t know that she could be in the film industry without being an actor. Yet, when she found out that directing movies was an option, she knew it was what she wanted to do with her life.

Photographic Courtesy of ANNA ODELL