Making a connection

David Chirchirillo on Bad Match, online dating and the legacy of Fatal Attraction

by Jennie Kermode

The course of true love failing to run smooth
The course of true love failing to run smooth

Have you ever given online dating a try? Tens of millions of people have, and although this has resulted in a lot of happy relationships (and many more mutually satisfying one night stands), it has also, inevitably, produced a few horror stories. Bad Match, which screened at last year's Frightfest, tells the story of two people looking for very different things who collide at a swipe and end up in a very bad place as a result. Director David Chirchirillo uses this construct to talk about men and women's expectations of each other and the extent to which cinema has contributed to them.

It's very much a post-Fatal Attraction film, I suggested when we discussed it last August, and he agreed.

First impressions
First impressions

"That was one hundred percent the intention. I pitched it as Fatal Attraction for the smartphone generation. Even if you haven't seen Fatal Attraction it is engrained so deeply in our culture and I think especially now that we're finally breaking away from the crazy woman kind of horror movie role, this is important. I set out to build up the building blocks of Fatal Attraction and then break them down."

Because so much of it is about men's expectations of how a woman who feels rejected will behave?

"Exactly. There's even a line in the movie, "this woman is certifiable."

I also noticed that the heroine, Riley (Lili Simmons), is strongly associated with the colour red, which Adrian Lyne used very deliberately in his film.

"We did add that on purpose," he says. "We have each chararacter have a colour. Harris' was yellow and Riley's was red so when Riley was encroaching on Harris' life we wanted to pull out a red object in each scene. By the end of it the colours kind of switch, so you wonder who's the insane person. Riley has got more yellow on her. That kind of just happened in the script stages, it was me crossing my fingers and hoping it all worked out. It was quite nerve racking."

Was he confident, at that stage, that he could fine the right actors to carry off what is a very finely balanced story? This, he says, is an area where he got lucky.

A matter of perspective?
A matter of perspective?

"When I looked for actors I found Jack (Cutmore-Scott) and I knew in my gut, I had this intrinsic instinct that he was the guy. I asked him 'Do you think Harris is a good guy?' and he said 'Yes.' It was important to me that the felt that way because he needed to think through the whole movie what he was doing was right, and if he felt that way then he would come across to the audience that way."

I notice the slight discomfort in his voice as he recounts this.

"Yeah," he says. "I mean, as I was writing the movie I joked with my girlfriend that it was like a Rorschach test for misogynists."

He's also very happy about having got Simmons on board.

"When you're dealing with low budget filmmaking you have a list of actors and actresses you want the script to go out to. I'd seen Lili's work so I reached out but I thought she was far too big for our movie and wouldn't agree. So I got her the script and then two days later she got in touch and said 'I'll do it!' If you don't audition then generally you don't meet with the people who are going to be in the film until you're ready to shoot so I didn't know what Lili was going to bring to it, but we had one meeting and she seemed to totally get who Riley was."

Was the story rooted in real life or was it a purely imaginary scenario?

"I certainly used my life experience," he says. "I've had my share of dating mishaps. I also just wanted to make a modern movie about modern times that we're living in, that I thought audiences would relate to or find authentic and interesting."

Getting a grip
Getting a grip

How did he feel about getting to screen it at Frightfest?

"Amazing," he says. "I mean, without trying to degrade any other film festivals out there, Frightfest is really about the movies and about the fans, especially for deep horror fanatics. I grew up being sort of a movie nerd and t's not as if somebody you meet every day can name drop their favourite Fulci movie or tell you why they think Opera is better than Inferno, so when you get lots of those people together in a room it feels really familial and Frightfest is like that, it's really about the movies and the people."

Finally, he has a cautionary word for people interested in the film - and some encouragement.

"Definitely don't get ready to laugh. The humour is very dry and that's intentional. I just sort of hope that people enjoy it. We made it to be entertaining and I hope that it does that."

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