‘The Invitation’ Director Jessica M. Thompson Talks Dracula’s Easter Eggs, Practical Crocs Challenges, and More [Exclusive Interview]

‘The Invitation’ Director Jessica M. Thompson Talks Dracula’s Easter Eggs, Practical Crocs Challenges, and More [Exclusive Interview]

For lack of a better term, what would you expect from vampire noises?

Well, one great thing was in Bram Stoker was that he kept portraying them in a very lizard reptilian way, so [my first note] that I gave to my sound designers used reptile, gecko noises, but it still sounded a bit alien, like the real movie “Alien”. It actually had this futuristic quality that I didn’t like. Then it’s a secret, I think you’re the first person to hear it, we used a kookaburra.

No kidding?

Yeah. We put a kookaburra on a lizard and transformed it, and that’s how we created the unique vampire sound. It was actually one of our sound mixers who found it and he was like, “Look, this is your country bird.” I was like, let’s do this.

What about the vampiric aesthetic? What qualities were important to you and the team?

Well, with our brides, I wanted them to stay true to the era they were shot in. Lucy was shot in the 1920s, Victoria was shot 500 years ago, so so their fashion, their hair, their makeup, all that stuff, so there were very subtle details about what they wear and how they carry their character.

But as far as the prosthetics and everything else we tested, no, I wanted it not to be a traditional one, just two fangs. Originally I had four, well, two up and two down, but the actors couldn’t talk. They all had lisps, which is to say, it’s really hard when you get so used to feeling your teeth the way they feel to learn to speak again. It would probably take months, which we didn’t have. That’s why we use the first two, the two on each side. It was always a challenge.

I actually had the actors wear them during the day just when they weren’t on set so they learned to speak with their mouths. But it all has to be done well in advance, and you also have to understand, when you think about that rehearsal dinner scene. There are so many blueprints where they are pre-vampire and post-vampire, so you need to be able to pull them off quickly as well. It’s something else, with the claws and things like that. Not only do you design something that looks realistic and authentic, but you also have to think about the practicalities. You need to be able to get in and out, so it’s not just the level of detail, it’s also the functionality, that’s really interesting.

Never thought about it before, but now that you mention it, how hard it must be to deliver lines with fangs.

Thomas [Doherty] found that the hardest. There were a few lines that we had to ADR later, because it’s hard. I tried them myself just to see, and it’s quite difficult. There are some words, if you just got used to S or TH or PH, they are hard to say.

Before the ADRer, was it like a horror comedy?

Yes exactly. I was like, “Oh, Dracula has a lisp.” I was like, ‘I don’t think people will appreciate that’, but that’s also the magic of modern cinema. you can go in [and fix it]. I’m like, ‘Just stay in character. Don’t worry about it. Don’t think about it because we’ll figure it out later.’

Alicia R. Rucker