Every day during October, the Department of Tangents presents a different short film for the Daily Horror Film Fest. It can be flat-out scary, funny horror, or just plain creepy. Today’s entry is Root of All Evil, written, directed, and scored by Alex DiVincenzo and produced by Lockbridge Productions.
I was hipped to this one by Topher Hansson, who wrote and directed a short called Dark Roast which I hope to bring you someday if it becomes fully available online. Coincidentally, if you still have a VHS player, you can get both of these shorts together with some bonus content on a newly-released tape from Witter Entertainment.
Root of All Evil was a 48 Hour Film Project entry, and DiVincenzo was lucky enough to draw his favorite genre in the lottery. It’s a creepy fun tale inspired by Ray Bradbury’s novel The Halloween Tree, among other horror classics, in which a group of young partygoers find out what happens if you disrespect tradition. For a little bit more on the making of the film, check out the short interview with DiVincenzo below.
You had 48 hours to write and create the film – how did you settle on this particular story to tell?
One of the things the 48 Hour Film Project assigns is a genre. I was given “natural horror,” which to me meant I could do one of three things: natural disaster, animals attack, or killer plants. The former two would have been really hard to pull off with no time and no budget, so I went for killer plants. The concept was partially influenced by the attacking trees in The Evil Dead, and I also drew on Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree – at least the name, if not concept – for inspiration.
There was a definite John Carpenter vibe to the soundtrack – are you a Carpenter fan?
Absolutely! John Carpenter is my primary influence as both a composer and a filmmaker. The original Halloween is my all-time favorite film, and I’ve always admired how his soundtracks elevate his films. They set the atmosphere but can also be enjoyed on their own merits without the visuals.
How do you approach writing a score, especially when you’re under such a strict deadline?
I have no formal training as a musician, but I’m constantly listening to soundtracks. I essentially taught myself how to play the keyboard for the sole purpose of writing my own synth scores. I only had a few hours to compose the music on about three hours of sleep – which, in retrospect, wasn’t the best idea – but I’m really glad the Carpenter influence came through.
Are you a horror fan in general? Do you like directing and writing horror?
Horror is my genre of choice. I even run a horror blog called BrokeHorrorFan.com. I’ve written and directed a handful of short films, all of which have been horror or, at least, genre-adjacent. I love writing and directing horror because of how malleable it is; it can be scary, it can be funny, it can be suspenseful, it can be dramatic, it can be fast paced or slow burn, it can be used to make social commentary. I’ve also found that horror movies tend to be the most fun to work on for the cast and crew.