Swedish born, Amsterdam-based playwright Jakob Ahlbom is bringing his theatrical work Horror to the Auckland Arts Festival in March.
It is a work that he says unashamedly plays with the clichés of the horror genre with some dark comic twists thrown in.
Horror pays homage to horror films, offering jump-scares, spine tingling sound effects, shocking special effects and blood. It was a big hit at the 2016 London International Mime Festival.
The story is of a woman who returns with two friends to her parental home. The house is haunted by the woman’s older sister whose vengeful spirit makes itself known to them.
In a series of flashbacks, the past gradually re-emerges: the cruel parents, the crushed youth. The youngest sister is brutally confronted with the hidden past. The only way to survive is to face the terrible truth.
Ahlbom wanted to transfer cinematic horror effects into the theatre, “to amaze the audience and make them shudder with fear at the seemingly impossible events unfolding before them.”
He grew up with horror films and says although he’s playing with the form he is not mocking it. His big influences were The Evil Dead, The Shining and The Exorcist.
“I’m very fond of Peter Jackson, especially at the beginning, when he also made horror movies on the border of comical, and visual and absurd and surrealistic - with a lot of love and humour and I enjoyed that.
“I don’t want to push audiences away I want to find a way to seduce them, to come in and try to accept what I show them. I think humour is a very important part to make people relax and open themselves."
Using comic touches allows him to tell a dramatic story and entertain audiences, he says.
“It’s a little bit like Buster Keaton a very sad person and melancholic but at the same time funny.”
Integral to the work is the music, he says, which ranges from the full blown orchestral horror sound track norm to Crazy Horse by The Osmonds.
The Guardian had this to say: “The tone veers from icy claustrophobia to gothic slapstick, and the music slides from the whisperingly suggestive to full-blown slasher-orchestra.”