Shreco Bakari (Director, Actor, Maniacal Night)
The Horror Revolution: First off, what’s your favorite horror movie? What movie scared you the most?
Sherco Bakari: Damn, hard question already (Laughs) okay all time favorite horror movie. I believe it would have to be 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That movie still scares the hell out of me to this day. Although I have others, this particular film still sticks with me heavily. What am I most scared of? I believe that would have to be spiders. (Laughs) I will burn down the whole damn house and give up the ghost for that.
THR: I’ve read that you don’t consider yourself a horror filmmaker, and that you prefer the term “terror movie” instead. Why do you prefer to use that term?
SB: Well in this particular sense of making this film, 100% yes. Many people don’t understand the difference between horror and terror. I’d be here for hours elucidating and dissecting on that topic. Just know terror more so focuses on the mind in a sense. The psychological parts. Terror is what you feel when a loud banging sound erupts suddenly. Terror is knowing someone or something is watching you, that you can’t find or see. Terror is torturing you mentally and emotionally instead of having jump scare after jump scare. Gore scene after gore scene. Can you give the audience moments of pure terror without relying on those elements? Can you literally give the viewer a pure sense of dread and have them feel uncomfortable in the best way possible? Terror focuses on those things and senses mainly. Many have their own takes, however, as you saw in Maniacal Night; this is my take on pure terror.
THR: Maniacal Night was really good and had a great sense of dread throughout. What inspired you to make this particular film for your first feature?
SB: 2007’s The Strangers and 2007’s Funny Games, and 2003’s ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Those films specifically gave me what ‘Maniacal Night’ is today. Being a huge fan of those films, I’ve always said one day I’d make a film that combines all 3 in one, and I did. I damn sure did and I am beyond proud with the ending result of the entire production.
THR: What draws you to found footage in particular? Is it a budgetary consideration or is it just the genre of horror that you prefer to work within?
SB: I've been a fan of Found-Footage since the first time I discovered The Blair Witch Project when I was in middle school. I’d say about maybe 7th or 8th grade. It was the most horrific and unsettling horror movie I had ever seen at that time. It didn’t help, I was upstairs in my parents' house at midnight watching it alone. After that I didn’t really begin to discover other found footage films until the original Paranormal Activity came out on
halloween of my sophomore year. My Aunt, Sonya Moore, took me after we left this haunted attraction in Alabama called 'Pope’s Haunted Farm’. I tell you one thing; that theater experience was literally traumatizing. That took the cake for me and from that moment walking out of the theater; I knew then, I wanted to be a professional found footage horror/thriller filmmaker. The thing that draws me to the subgenre is the realistic value of everything. If you do it right, act right and direct right; it can be the most terrifying thing ever. I do not do this because it’s budget friendly. Hell, honestly, nothing is really budget friendly if you truly invest in the quality of your work. I do this because it’s my passion and my life. I love found footage more than any other genre out there. It’s so cool to be able to challenge yourself and bring something to life that hasn’t really been done before. YES, the subgenreis OVERSATURATED to hell. The reason being is because many people think they can get a camera, grab piss poor actors or friends, develop a janky and under developed story, throw in some cheesy and crappy ass jump scares and call it “FOUND-FOOTAGE CINEMA”. There is no passion, drive, ambition, nothing. Just people that think they can do something that’s easy and cheap. Even with a big budget Hollywood found footage. They think special and visual FX with jump scares are the way to go. It’s not. Never will be. I’ve devoted nearly 8 years and counting of my life experimenting, failing, succeeding and investing true passion and drive to the found footage subgenre. I’m always learning and developing new ideas and ways to keep this subgenre fresh, new, entertaining and most of all terrifying. I’ve also met some amazing found footage filmmakers like myself, Thomas Burke, of the ‘Found-Footage Critic’ whom I look up to dearly. He has some amazing found-footage films and he’s one of the reasons I continue to elevate.”
THR: You play the lead role in the film and do a fantastic job as well. Do you prefer acting or directing, and what are the challenges of directing a movie that you are also starring in?
SB: To be honest, I love doing both. I’ve never really encountered a challenge when it comes to directing and acting at the same time. Once you’ve trained yourself, studied, done trial and error in your early stages when you really don’t know what the hell you’re doing, everything eventually becomes second nature. More so like breathing. It’s a natural thing.
THR: Did you go to film school? Would you recommend film school for people who want to make movies?
SB: No, I didn't go to film school, believe it or not. (Laughs) I get asked that question all of the time. I taught myself everything I know. Research is your best friend and studying is your wife/husband/boyfriend/girlfriend. I literally taught myself everything I know. Along with of course networking with many others and learning from them. I just add on the knowledge I’ve taken from them to what I have already developed. As far as recommending school; I would never ever tell anyone to not attend school. If that’s something you want to do; go for it. It’s your journey. My journey however, did not involve film school. I did get accepted into The New York Film Academy with a damn near full ride scholarship for the Miami Beach Campus in the fall of 2020. Also in 2014 I was accepted into The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Financial reasons
are why I didn’t attend either during those times. It just wasn’t the right time and not for me then. Who knows what may happen in the future!
THR: If you could work with anyone in the industry, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
GB: It would have to be Wes Craven hands down. He's been one of my biggest inspirations and film and writing since I started diving into film professionally.
THR: What inspires you within the genre of horror? Is it your preferred genre, or are there other genres that you think you’d like to work within?
GB: The thing that inspires me within the genre is my grandparents Phyllis and Gene Gilmore. I can remember as a child and even to this day, we would watch nothing but horror movies back to back. They inspired me as a kid and I always told myself, I would become a filmmaker and make horror movies that I know they would like. Years later at 30 years old, I am at my Feature Film debut with ‘Maniacal Night’. So in a sense this is a love letter to them both. Yes Horror and found footage is my preferred genre. It is what will skyrocket my career as an actor and as a filmmaker.
THR: What’s next for you? Any new exciting projects you’re going to be working on?
GB: I’m working on a few concepts at the moment. I cannot reveal at the moment, however what I can tell you is that I’m trying something with a cross between Evil Dead and Hellraiser but we shall see. Nothing is set in stone nor is it confirmed. As far as a sequel is concerned with Maniacal Night, it would have to depend on the concept and the story. It
would have to be fresh, terrifying and most of all make sense. No plans are in the works for anything dealing with a sequel, if any, right now.
THR: Finally, what are your opinions on garden gnomes?
GB: I think those shits are terrifying as hell. I don’t trust it. (Laughs). Blame Goosebumps 100% on that. (Laughs)