Come Play is a new supernatural horror film from writer/director Jacob Chase. The concept for Come Play began with a five-minute short film that Chase created back in 2017. The short was so popular and so creepy that less than a year after it was released, Amblin Entertainment reached out to Chase to write and direct a feature-length version. I recently got a chance to chat with Jacob Chase via Zoom to have a conversation about his first feature film and to tell him how much I enjoyed it.
Scott Menzel. Hi Jacob, how are you today?
Jacob Chase: Hey, very good. Nice to meet you.
Scott Menzel: Nice to meet you as well. This was one scary hell of a ride. Thank you so much for making it.
Jacob Chase: Aww…thank you. I am glad you enjoyed it.
Scott Menzel: So I did not have the opportunity to see your short film before seeing this film but I do want to know what was it like to take a short film and turn it into a feature-length film?
Jacob Chase: Sure. Yeah, I mean, taking a short five-minute film and turning it into a 90-minute movie obviously takes a lot of work. In the five minutes short, I was just trying to scare people quickly and create an interesting sort of monster. But then when I made the movie, really it was about expanding on who the monster was, what he could do, and figuring out the best characters to sort of put in this horrific situation with Larry the monster. And sort of once I figured out those pieces, it was all about having fun with what we could do with this monster, how you can only see him through the screen, and just playing with the audience as much as possible there.
Scott Menzel: So I really love the concept of this film and I’m very fascinated with the idea that you focused on a child with autism as the center of the plot. What went into that decision?
Jacob Chase: Yeah, so my wife actually works with kids on the spectrum. So I’ve sort of had a window into that world for a few years, and I’ve just met some incredible kids over the years, and it had long been in my mind to try to find a way to have a character with autism in a movie. And obviously, we’ve seen that before but I think specifically putting a kid with autism in a film, that’s a horror movie, that’s meant to be a fun ride for an audience and not about the fact that he has autism and that was important to me. And then it really blended so well with this concept of Larry reaching you through technology, because I was able to create a character who is non-verbal and really needed the technology to communicate with the world.
And so once I landed on that sort of the rest of it, with the family around him and everything, just made sense. We did a lot of homework, a lot of meeting with kids on the spectrum and adults, and tried to do our best to really make a film about a character that’s as accurate as possible. Even though, as everyone says once you’ve met one kid on the spectrum, you’ve only met one kid on the spectrum, so everyone’s so different, but we tried to be true to Oliver and create a fascinating character.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. I thought Azhy did such an incredible job with this performance. I know he was in Marriage Story and I totally forgot he was in that. I honestly thought he had autism while watching this movie. So I actually googled it after watching it. That was the first thing I googled once I was done watching. So kudos to you for getting him and for him doing such an incredible job with the film.
Jacob Chase: Thank you. Yeah. I mean, he put a lot of work into it together with working with a movement coach and stuff, and Azhy as a young actor, he has so much empathy for people that are not exactly like him. And that was a big thing that aside from his incredible acting ability and being in touch with his emotions, his empathy was something that I really loved in the audition process and helped him create this character in such a compassionate way.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. What’s your secret behind building tension and scares?
Jacob Chase: The secret behind building tension and scares? I mean, I used to create a haunted house for many years with a bunch of my friends, and that was a live experience obviously. But that was where I actually learned sort of how long suspense can be drawn out, how much you can sort of ratchet that up. And I learned doing that, that the elongated suspense is just as important as the big moment where you scare someone, if not more important. And so honestly in the edit, it’s like anything in filmmaking, it’s a little bit of trial and error. It’s trying, you try stuff and you’re wanting to really bring that tension out for the audience. So they’re on the edge of their seats. And then you test the movie and, a lot of it works and some things don’t, and then you rejigger it and you make it even better.
Scott Menzel: Great! Well, thank you very much for your time today. I really loved this movie. I told the Focus team that this is a film where if any kid sees this who has an addiction to tablets, they probably will never touch a tablet again in their lives after seeing this film.
Jacob Chase: Well, if I can get one kid off at technology, I would have done my job. Thanks
Scott Menzel: All right, man. Thank you.