There’s nothing better than well-crafted cinema designed to give audiences a good scare, and Jacob Chase’s debut film Come Play certainly delivers scares a plenty.
Originally based on Chase’s short film Larry, Come Play stars young up-and-coming actor Azhy Robertson, previously known for his role alongside Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in Marriage Story, as Oliver, a boy with Autism who uses his mobile tablet to communicate.
Things quickly become more sinister, however, when a mysterious app installs itself onto Oliver’s tablet and strange occurrences begin to target him.
Ahead of Come Play’s Australian digital release on August 18, we got a chance to sit down with the talented director and discuss his new film and plans for the future.
“Come Play is a really special film to me,” Chase said. “It’s a horror film with a lot of heart.”
While Come Play serves as Chase’s first time at the helm of his own full-length feature, the up-and-coming director has certainly had the benefit of some of the most experienced names in the movie business to draw upon.
Produced in association with Stephen Spielberg’s Amblin Partners, Chase was fortunate to be able to work directly with the veteran filmmaker on the cut of his horror debut, which has many shades of Spielberg’s own Poltergeist weaved in.
“I feel like I’ve kind of peaked as a filmmaker,” Chase said. “It’ll never get better than sitting in an edit bay with Steven Spielberg just like going over the cut and spitballing ideas and him telling me stories about making Poltergeist and stuff it was, you know, really incredible.”
Spielberg is not the only well-known director to work with Chase in recent years. Off the back of a 2016 Super Bowl commercial competition, he was granted the unique opportunity of a mentorship with Supanova alumnus Zack Snyder on the set of the Justice League shoot.
“I got to just observe kind of how he makes a movie, and how a movie of that scale is made period, which was definitely the biggest set I’ve ever been on in my life,” he explained.
“And getting to just, like, see how he works with the cast and how he works with different departments, and how he interfaces with the studio, you know, everything from the creative to the politics of it, both him and his producing partner and wife, Deborah Snyder.
“Both of them are huge inspirations to me and were so warm and kind, letting me ask tonnes of questions and just kind of quietly watch in the shadows. Definitely took a lot of that knowledge into getting to make my first studio movie with Come Play.”
As for Chase’s monstrous antagonist, the young filmmaker also had the benefit of tapping into some other influences, namely approaching the infamous Jim Henson Creature Shop to bring the film’s monster, Larry, to life.
Having previously written for The Jim Henson Company, Chase was already familiar with their work and approached them to bring the creature to life “as one of their famous puppets but making something that’s also very scary”.
“We made this nine-foot-tall puppet that one puppeteer would sort of wear on his head,” Chase explained, “and then there’s three other puppeteers operating different parts. So, the feet, the hands, the fingers and head moving around. It was like this amazing dance on set… it was really cool.
“Why it was so important to me to do this practically was I think as an audience, we can just become more engrossed in the story, and just kind of let our imagination run a bit more wild when it’s this practical, tactile thing on screen.
“But also, for the actors, especially young kids, giving them something actually scary in front of them to play off of created these just amazing, genuine responses that I just wouldn’t have gotten if it was just a CGI creature.”
With a clear talent for the business, and a strong sense of visual storytelling, Jacob Chase is certainly a filmmaker to keep an eye on in the years to come. With a number of other horror projects in the works, including the upcoming horror series Girl In The Woods on which he worked on alongside Jessica Jones’ Krysten Ritter as an episode director, Chase has “aspirations to have a career like the Spielbergs or the JJ Abrams”.
“You know, Matt Reeves, like these filmmakers that I really look up to,” he added. And Chase most certainly has the chops necessary to get there.
Starring Gillian Jacobs, John Gallagher Jr. and Azhy Robertson, Come Play will be available on all major digital platforms August 18, and is an absolute must-watch for horror fans.