Two days left for the Daily Horror Film Fest, and I have a familiar name for fans of the Department of Tangents Podcast. On EP40 back in September, I spoke to Nate Dern about his new book, Not Quite a Genius. Dern is mostly known as a humor writer, and most everything in the book is either a humor piece or has an element of humor to it. But a couple of pieces in the book are terrifying, including one called “This Is A Dream and I’m Going To Kill You.”
Dern writes a lot of short films for FunnyOrDie.com, so making some of his short pieces into films to promote the book was a no-brainer. For “Dream,” he cut the jokes and went for something more unsettling. “I wanted to see if I could make a horror short, because I hadn’t done it yet but it was something I wanted to do,” he says. “I wanted to lean into something that felt like a horror short.”
“Dream” was a natural choice because if its dark theme. “It goes to my fascination with being able to tell what is real and not real,” he says. Part of his inspiration was a movie called Waking Life, which gave Dern the idea that the brain registers a dream the same way it registers reality. “Certain parts of your brain light up the same way. I’ve always been fascinated with that idea. And I just thought it would be a good horror premise, also in the same with Freddy Krueger, the idea of, if you die in a dream, you die in real life. I think there’s a long tradition of that in horror. I just wanted to play around with that a little bit.
You can find the link to EP40 with Nate Dern and music from Corin Ashley here.