Writer-Director Ryan Spindell on His Short Film Anthology 'The Mortuary Collection'
April 14, 2021
A masterpiece of short stories told through a creepily charismatic mortician in a chilling funeral home. This is The Mortuary Collection, a horror anthology feature about a young woman seeking employment at a hilltop funeral home and becomes captivated by the sinister tales told by the groundskeeper himself. It’s fun, it’s gross, it’s funny, and quite possibly one of my favorite films of the year so far.
Starring some recognizable faces such as Jacob Eldori (Euphoria) and Clancy Brown (Shawshank Redemption), The Mortuary Collection starts off as an innocent bedtime story that evolves into sinister folklore all within its hour and forty-eight-minute runtime.
When I spoke with writer-director, Ryan Spindell, I immediately had to know where the idea came from.
“A love of short stories! I’m from a really small town in Maine. I didn’t have a lot of friends, so I spent my time reading short stories, especially Stephen King's. I’ve done a lot of shorts, so for my first feature, I wanted to do something that celebrates the format that we rarely see on screen. “
When it came to finding the right stories for the movie, Spindell has a plethora to choose from.
“Because I have been writing shorts for so long, I had about fifteen to twenty to choose from, so I just picked my favorite four from there. Once I had the stories, I started thinking about how to tie them together. Many anthologies fall apart when it comes to tying them together and figuring out what exactly the movie is.”
Outlining for this project also came together quite easily for the filmmaker.
“I am a self-proclaimed student of the short form, but the style for features and shorts are the same. A great short will have a beginning, middle, and end that captures you in the first minute.”
Without giving away anything, the twist ending for The Mortuary Collection caught me off guard, which is unusual as someone who can see them coming a mile away most of the time.
“The conceit of the mortician giving a tour was there from the start. What I did was start out with the things I loved and once I had that foundation, I asked myself, 'How do I take this further and give the audience what they’re expecting but still subvert expectations?'”
It’s the love for the genre that kept Spindell motivated while working on the film.
“It’s an idea of elocution and the story continued to evolve and we had this perfect format for these character’s stories to be told. That type of horror made me fall in love with the genre — Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark — the stories in the movie reflect on how my love for the genre has grown over time.”
Spindell had this parting piece of advice for his younger writer self.
“I came pretty late to the writing game, but no one is going to write your stories better than you, so you just have to get through your ten thousand hours of writing and the rest will fall into place.”
The Mortuary Collection is now available to stream on Shudder and is available on VOD, DVD, and Blu-ray starting April 20.
Written by: Sade' SellersSade’ Sellers is a screenwriter and producer based in Burbank, California. Originally from Michigan’s capital, Lansing, Sade’ has been working in the entertainment industry since 2009. In 2017, Sade’ was a finalist for Tv One’s Screenwriting competition for her teleplay The Replacement. This achievement motivated the network to hire her as a writer for their upcoming movie of the week event, Deadly Dispatch, which premiered on the platform in the summer of 2019. Through that production process, Sade’ met casting director Leah Daniels-Butler who was in the midst of staffing her production company, 1oneninety5. Sade’ then rose to the role of Vice President of Content Acquisitions and Development and spent the next year learning the ecosystem of film and television development from pitching to production. Using that experience, and bound at home due to COVID-19, Sade’ made a return to her first love, screenwriting, utilizing her free time to write new content. www.sadesellers.com