As our lives are getting busier day by day, we all need some kind of entertainment. Well, what’s better than watching a good movie with friends, family, or even alone and having a relaxed time? Sometimes we watch something so good that it leaves us overwhelming.
This is what’s happening with the people who have watched “The Strange Thing About The Johnsons.”
The short film was released in the year 2017 at the Slam Dance Festival. It recently caught the attention of almost everyone. There are memes on Facebook, while Twitter is also flooded with tweets of “The Strange Thing About The Johnsons.”
The mind blowing movie leaves the viewer with mixed types of emotions. After the internet frenzy about the movie, Ari Aster, writer and director of the movie tells everything about it in an interview. Let’s have a look at what he said!
Q: Where did the concept for “The Strange Thing About The Johnsons” Came From?
Ari Aster: The summer before my first year at AFI, I was having a discussion with my friends (one of whom plays the son in the Johnsons) about taboo topics and how nobody makes a movie about them because they are too taboo to watch or discuss. And this is how we came to the topic of a son molesting his father. “That should never be made into a film!” So, it began on that level, but from there it evolved into something very different.
Q: What made you decide to have an all-black cast?
Ari Aster: The actor who plays the son is a close friend who’s starred in most of my films (including all of my pre-AFI student work) and he was there from the film’s conception. He was perfect for this role that’s why I cast him. At that point it was obvious that we were casting African Americans. The color of the Johnson family’s skin is totally incidental. It’s of no consequence to the story or its execution.
Q: Did the casting of black actors in a film with such a provocative theme create any problem about the on-going of this project?
Ari Aster: Not really. As I said earlier, the color of the family isn’t important. We certainly assumed that casting black actors in a film that tackles such transgressive themes would create something of a stir, and it would be a lie to say that we weren’t hesitant, especially as many people were advising us against the decision. But the longer the dialogue continued about whether it was okay to cast the way we wanted to (without making a discernible statement on race), the more exciting that argument became. It obviously has/had nothing to do with the race or black people.
Q: Did the actors in your film have any reservations about any aspects of your film?
Ari Aster: Not at all. They did ask questions though, like the ones I am answering here. When they came onto the project for the very first time, they clarified everything they had on their minds. They found the movie a good opportunity to work on something different. If the film works, it’s because of their commitment.
Q: Were you and the crew concerned about the viewers’ reactions? Were there any concerns on your part regarding how viewers would perceive the film?
Ari Aster: Well, not really. Were we aware that this would be polarizing? Of course. We anticipated some backlash, especially in the beginning (when the idea was still fresh to us), but I lived with this premise for so long that I basically forgot how disturbing it was. Once we committed to the project, the challenge wasn’t to find new ways of keeping it shocking or outrageous for 30 minutes; it was to tell the story as dramatically as we could, and to keep true to our original intentions without overstepping our own boundaries of taste. We also had to fight to raise the budget ourselves, so convincing people to donate money to this “role-reversing incest what’s it” was more difficult than releasing it to an anonymous group of people.
I also have to say that we were on our festival run and the movie was unexpectedly leaked onto the internet, which caught us completely off-guard.
Q: There has been a debate about the movie’s genre and everything else. Can you explain whether The Strange Thing About The Johnsons was intended to be humorous or dramatic?
Ari Aster: Why not both? I see the film as a satire of the domestic melodrama (a la Douglas Sirk or Nicholas Ray), so it draws more from movie cliches and genre tropes, especially from films dealing with abuse or family dysfunction, than it does real life. But it was a challenge for us (and something that we always kept in mind) to transcend the absurdity of the premise and to actually consider the implications of such a thing. It brought up questions about the whole parenting worst case scenario. His father gave him lots of freedom and trusted him. Well, it’s good to be liberal but not so good. There’s also the suggestion of culpability on the father’s part, so the film skips a lot of the causes and focuses primarily on the effects of an insidious, inverted dynamic.
In the end, we just wanted to make a film that was compelling, visceral and unique.
Cast of The Stranger Thing About The Johnsons
- Billy Mayo played as Sidney
- Angela Bullock played as Joan
- Brandon Greenhouse played as Isaiah
- Carlon Jeffery played as Young Isaiah Daniele Watts played as Marianne
- Reatha Grey played as Mrs. Freeman
- John C. Johnson played as Mr. McGill
- Stanley Bennett Clay played as Howard
- Connie Jackson played as Grace
- Anna Jean played as Girl After A Party
- Casey Desmond played as Howie