The Review/Short Read/Interview/
Room 213 is a Really Scary Swedish Horror Movie for Tweens
We spoke to the film’s director Emelie Lindblom about making spooky films for young audiences
From Sleepaway Camp to Friday the 13th to Stage Fright, summer camps are often a setting for great big scares. Room 213 (playing as part of TIFF Kids International Film Festival on April 22 and 23) puts its own spin on the genre as a horror film designed for young audiences. The film centres on three 12-year-old girls at a Swedish summer camp who find themselves bunking in the notorious Room 213, which hasn’t been used since a mysterious “accident” occurred in it 60 years earlier. Along with terrifying activity from beyond the grave are the sweetly-realized coming-of-age experiences familiar to any camper — a summer that brings along first kisses and dances, as well as a chance encounters with a ghost. We spoke to Swedish director Emelie Lindblom about her inspiration for the film, adapting the film’s source material from a book by Ingelin Angerborn, and why strong 12-year-old girls need to be seen on screen.
Your movie is genuinely very scary. How did you create that sense of tension in the film?
Well, my intention was to do it scary for real. Even if you're making a film for kids, you have to do it seriously. So I used some tricks from horror movies, and I thought about the original material in the book, which is also very scary.
Were there any horror movies you were looking to for inspiration?
I'm a very scared person. (Laughs) I'm terrified of horror movies! Of course, I watched horror movies when I was a teen, so I had all of those Stephen King horror movies in my head, like It, and — even though it's not a horror movie — Stand by Me. That was a big inspiration because it's a sometimes-scary movie about a group of friends.
You really capture the emotions of being a 12-year-old girl. Your female leads are so active and smart. As a filmmaker, do you want to see more strong 12-year-old girls on screen?
Of course I want to see more strong 12-year-old girls. The three girls in the film didn't know each other before, so we had a lot of rehearsals to create a bond between them, and now they are best friends. It's such an unique age, and people always say that young girls can influence a group. I think girls are very good at being leaders and taking charge. I would like to see more films that show that.
What excites you about making movies for young audiences?
That it’s such a great audience. You get to watch the movie with them and see their reactions. They scream, stand up, and the most horrifying part in the movie [for them] is the kiss — it's when everyone just stands up and screams “gross!” When you make movies for adults, they're a bit more shut down, unsure of showing their emotions. But when kids watch this movie, they're all-in, and I really like that.