TALK NERDY WITH US: Kelley Mack began acting when she was eight years old. Through that, she developed a desire to understand the ins and outs of what goes on behind the camera. She went on to Chapman University, studying film production and cinematography. Mack has now produced four short films and has her mind set on the next goal, which is making a feature film.
Her most recent short, A Knock at the Door, just premiered at the NYC Horror Film Festival earlier in November, and wowed the audience with a deep, dubious, and perplexing theme. On the film’s website, the short is described like this: “Moments after a bloodcurdling scream disrupts Nick’s normally peaceful neighborhood, a frantic knocking at his door triggers events that unknowingly alter his fate forever.” And if you see the film, I can attest that it will probably alter your fate as well (at least for a little while).
“Now, know that my passion lies in acting,” Mack told me in a recent interview. Although she says her passion lies in acting, her talent clearly extends to creating and producing, as A Knock at the Door left me with my jaw dropped, a head full of questions, and a desperate need for answers.
When you watch a scary movie most of the time, you can classify it into one of the two categories that make up the “horror genre.” It’s either existentially scary. These are the movies that make you think, that make you question your every decision, that keep you up all night with thoughts. Or it could be physically scary. A movie that makes you jump. A film that forces you to cover your eyes as if your fingers were protecting you from what’s on screen. The Butterfly Effect is existentially scary, but Halloween is physically scary. Now take that idea. And throw it out the window. Because that’s exactly what A Knock at the Door did. This film fits perfectly in both categories, redefining what horror can actually mean. It’s spooky, jumpy, thought-provoking, and confusing. It’s a perfect mix.
Mack, along with co-writers/co-directors Wendie Weldon and Katrina Rennells, came up with the idea and wrote the script by simply asking themselves, “What would be the most terrifying thing that could happen in this moment?” And they went from there. Mack is intrigued by the idea of horror. “I think the element of horror allows you to explore natural human emotions in a way that you otherwise couldn’t,” she begins explaining. “It allows for both the characters and the audience to be put in a vulnerable position, and how people act when they’re fully vulnerable is so attractive and interesting to me.” She wants a viewer to reflect on their own life while watching, “especially when they least expect it.”
And from that, A Knock at the Door was born.
By the end of the film, you’ll be clenching your fists and begging for more. In the best, craziest, most unexpected way, of course. You’ll try to put yourself in the position of the characters. You’ll be introduced to a question so difficult to answer that it’s impossible in such a short amount of time. You’ll be desperate for the story to keep going. But ultimately, it leaves you in the position to come up with your own ending.
Producing this short was no easy task. Mack describes it as a massive collaboration of talent, passion, and hard work. Their pre-production process was quick- the script being written in one night and the filming taking place in under 12 hours. The post production then ran for about a year. But in the end, the result made it all worth it.
Mack and her team are nowhere near done telling their story, though. She tells me that they’re looking into a feature film version so they can continue the suspense. They clearly have an ending in mind, and although I came up with my own after watching the movie, I’ll admit that I’m insanely curious to find out what theirs looks like.
Have I sold you on this film yet? It’ll be playing at a variety of other festivals this coming year!