A man comes face-to-face with the dark choices of his past.

‘Box on the Hill’ is a slowly easing story that just keeps progressing into a bone-chilling outcome. Writer and director Erik Odom certainly finds the right tone to create a marking film with several unique unexpected turn of events. The dialogue is short but precise, where both actors, Erik himself and Brian Foyster sharply deliver the tense and emotional narrative. We had a chance to talk to Erik who told us a little more about the film.

Can you tell me a little bit about ‘Box on the Hill’? How did this film come about?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of shame as a monster.

Shame has defined a good portion of my life. Not anxiety or depression, just a feeling that “I am inherently defective.” What I love most about movies and filmmaking is the chance to explore these emotions and feelings in extreme circumstances.

The creature seems to be open to interpretation, but can you tell us specifically what you think it represents?

I think it represents unresolved shame. For both characters, it’s an emotional cancer that corrodes from the inside.

But it’s certainly open to interpretation! Someone recently told me they thought it represented regret. I liked that idea.

The story never gets too deep into the details. We think it turned out great this way, but did you ever toy with the idea of describing past events further?

There was more exposition in earlier drafts, but I thought it was important to acknowledge how much time has passed since these two last saw each other. How do we justify the disconnect between their version of events? How have their experiences since that night affected their memories?

What was the most challenging aspect on this project?

Our limited time on location (two eight-hour days) was hard. You always want more time, but we put our backs against the wall more than we probably should. It was a learning experience. I’m grateful for our incredible DP (Jesse Aragon) and his team for setting up and executing beautiful shots so quickly.

For the look and design of the demon, we were able to schedule a make-up test weeks before the shoot. That helped us iron out smaller details and see how everything looked on camera. Our make-up artist (Miya Tamlyn) was fantastic, and Vander Von Odd’s performance speaks for itself.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the film never would’ve happened without my producing partner, Brandon Shypkowski. I’ve tried for so long to make things on my own, but you really do need a team you can trust. He’s the best.

What do you hope people will take away from ‘Box on the Hill’?

That these kinds of abusive relationships are often oversimplified: the victim, naive and helpless; and the abuser, a one-dimensional psychopath. This simplification undermines the reality of complex power dynamics and a genuine underlying attraction, either physical, emotional, or both. Emotional abuse can be much more insidious than it looks from the outside.

What are your favorite short films?

I’m a big fan of looking back at short films that were later made into features. Whiplash. Laura Hasn’t Slept. Monster.

I recently saw Ingrid Haas’ film Still Wylde and it really affected me. Tough subject matter handled delicately and with a sense of humor. Just a beautiful film.

Which films can you say directly inspired this film?

The Babadook. Requiem for a Dream. Black Swan.