But not in a horror movie.
"The language of film becomes more important."
Virginia Madsen (Sideways), who stars in the film, adds that "everything takes a little bit longer. And when you're doing it without computer effects [there are few in Haunting], when you see a ghostly burn victim reflected on a TV screen? We had the actor there, in burn makeup, just for that little glimpse. Everything that happens, actors made happen."
Cornwell says that Haunting's budget wasn't the only thing that drove his decision to make his frights "organic." For the film, about a family stressed by a child's cancer treatments that must take a house -- any house -- close to the hospital, Cornwell wanted the ghosts trapped in this one-time funeral home to seem real.
"The texture of CGI [computer generated imagery] doesn't feel scary," Cornwell says. " Stanley Kubrick said when he made The Shining that when people who claim to have seen ghosts talk about it, they don't claim to have seen something transparent, Casper-like. It looked like a real person, which is a lot more threatening. That's what we went with."
Madsen is a veteran of the genre, having starred in the 1990 horror classic Candyman. Cornwell is a first-time feature director whose clay-animated short Ward 13 had a creepy look and feel. Both say that, contrary to what you might expect, the set for a horror film is actually the most fun.
"You revert to childhood, acting out your worst fears, like playing make-believe in the back yard when it's too dark for you to be outside," says Madsen. "There are ghosts in the trees and monsters behind every corner! You really have to go there as an actor because the only scary thing on the set is the look on the producer's face if you get behind schedule."
Everybody knows horror sets are more fun, Cornwell says, "because when you're doing the gory stuff, an ironic sense of humor about what you're doing helps. Messing around with guts and stuff can be hilarious. It's our way of coping, I guess."
Roger Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-5369.