Paolo Strippoli, horror and Italy

Paolo Strippoli, born in 1993, is a case to be studied for our cinema. First of all because he is very young and in any case already has two feature films to his credit, A Classic Horror Story and It is rainingand, secondly, because all of his production is a genre production and, moreover, it is of the horror genre.
Not only therefore a typology of cinema that provides precise, codified and difficult to bypass characteristics (which makes it, for obvious reasons, difficult to attract the famous general public), but also a modality that has disappeared, apart from examples that have now fallen into disgrace for reasons of age and beyond, by our cinematography.

It’s raining: a scene from the film

A cinematography which, on the contrary, in the past, was instead a great exponent also from this point of view, then leaving, as happened with the others, the field uncovered and ready to be stormed by all possible and imaginable foreign visions . In fact, today we find ourselves an audience bombarded, fundamentally, mainly by foreign genre ideas.
Perhaps however, starting from these assumptions, it is not so strange that a young figure, therefore a daughter of this hyper-connected world, like that of Strippoli, has decided to throw herself into thehorror. A bit why”nature hates a vacuum“, and partly because in Western cinema we are living in a renewed climate for genres, specifically horror. We talked about it with him, as well as understanding his more personal “why” and his vision of himself in near future.

The new horror

I’d start off pretty brutal, why horror?

Pulse Paolo Strippoli

Because it is a genre that is experiencing an international revolution right now. Contemporary horror is getting rid of some codes that used to crush it a bit and the authors tend to respect its appointments less and less, thus facing a rebirth in the name of freedom and hybridization.
I must say especially in the West also thanks to thearthouse horror American and today very popular directors such as Ari Aster, Robert Eggers, Jordan Peele. A separate discussion instead applies to the j-horror which always has its market. I often mention him because I love him and because one of his founders is one of my all time favorite directors, Kiyoshi Kurosawa.

In fact, before continuing I would like to open a small parenthesis on this, given that I have often read that you mention it and why in It is raining i found many elements right from asian horror. What binds you to this genre?

I think a very important moment in my life was one summer evening when I was 13 or 14, when I went with my cousin, who used to take me to see horror films as a child since no one else wanted to do it, to see Pulse. I was attracted to the film because Wes Craven was one of the producers, but I didn’t know that the film was a remake, or that it was a remake of an Asian film, much less that I was going to see just that, that is Kairo by Kurosawa. The poster fooled me.
I wasn’t a fan of Asian cinema at the time, to put it mildly, and therefore didn’t know that the film was part of an Asian movement that treated horror in its own way, far removed from the canons I was used to.
I remember that vision hurting me particularly, disturbing me beyond all expectations and making me wonder about death more than anything else I had seen or read up to that moment.
It’s hard to put into words what I felt… it emptied me well, let’s say so. Feeling that I rejected for a while, but which then made me grow, becoming part of my training not only cinematographic. I felt like that film was more of the “formulated” horror that I was used to seeing, made up of scheduled stops, scares, loud bells and darkness. A discourse that went beyond the genre.
It was my first approach to horror understood in a different sense than the kind of entertainment that we are often used to swallowing.

Back to us, so why making horror today is linked to the fact that even in the mainstream you can try to work with a less conventional idea?

A Classic Horror Story Paolo Strippoli

Yes, let’s say that the freer mode I was talking about I think can be better adapted to our cinematography. It’s a nice occasion. We have seen (and I play with it a bit in A Classic Horror Story) that classic horror, the one made up of codes, is something more complex to do here, because we have seen a lot of it, we know its rules very well and in addition we are very unaccustomed to seeing the Italian character, the character who speaks Italian, in there. It automatically seems like a parody to us, something out of place. Language is one of the biggest barriers we have in Italy. There is a great suspicion since the publication of the advertising materials of Italian horror films. Just open Facebook, Instagram or YouTube and go to see the comments about any of our horror films. Underneath all those experiments, these attempts, you will find the same sentences: “But these people who speak in Italian make me laugh”, “Why don’t they speak cleanly?”. “Why? Why?”, but because the Italian language, if it is not filtered by a dubbing that soils it, will be perceived by the Italian public as strange, amateurish, ridiculous.
I think that in a less codified horror, which doesn’t even seem like a horror at the beginning, you can find a way to overcome prejudice. Within this new branch we could find this identity.

It’s raining, the surprising horror film by Paolo Strippoli between Stephen King and Ari Aster

Horror and Italy

Is the Italian language also a problem abroad? Are you satisfied with how your latest film was received, It is rainingin the halls?

A Classic Horror Story Paolo Strippoli

Obviously, at the level of the general public, they will always choose either their own language or English, so Italian horror films, or Italian films in general, will have more and more difficulties abroad, apart from a few notable exceptions. But I can tell you that the Italian language abroad is never a problem, the audience responded very well, I was very happy with the screenings. The biggest problem is here. In the specific case of Piove, however, I must say that I was satisfied almost from every point of view, because, despite not being a classic horror film, it was very well received in genre festivals and because, despite the censorship that was applied to it , had a very good reception in theaters.

Is it still difficult to make horror films in Italy?

It’s still difficult, yes, especially if you’re not an auteur with five films under his belt, with box office hits that can give you security. Probably it would be necessary not only for young people to measure themselves with horror, but also for older and more recognized directors who have never done it before, in order to bring their name within the circuit.

There is one among the greats who is actually doing it, even if he does it outside.

Yes, and precisely for this reason, although your work is a great source of pride for us, yours is not an operation that will help solve the problem or restore faith in Italian horror.

It’s raining, the film review: Paolo Strippoli switches to metropolitan horror

But you are a good sign in this sense, aren’t you?

It's raining 8

It’s raining: a moment from the film

I hope so, but these are changes that we will see in a while. If five horror movies come out in two or three years then something good will have happened. Not only by young people though (laughs). Today there is also still very little Italian horror being produced, especially at an official level. Because the underground reality has always existed and I appreciate it, I often look at it and find there are also some gems, but it is difficult for these products, however valid, to break through the barrier of prejudices, both in theaters and on platforms, where it’s even more difficult.

So you want to bet again?

Mine is a path that slowly moves away from horror. Not because I disown him, on the contrary, I love him and will always love him and I would also like to do something even more straight than what I have done so far, but what I’m trying to create now is somehow an even more genre-bending. radical of It is raining. I’d like to make a film which, in telling a family story, distances itself even further from the classic codes and in which the horror not only arrives more slowly, but almost without the viewer noticing. I want to surprise, this I would like, but not because I deny horror, which I love, I still say, and of which I am not ashamed and which I would like to see valued and legitimized as much as possible. I get to tell you that although I hope to do other genres in the future, a part of me hopes to continue doing horror because it means that I will still think it will be worth persisting.

It’s raining: interview with Paolo Strippoli

Paolo Strippoli, horror and Italy