Benjamin Howdeshell partners with film icon Milla Jovovich in directing a horror short film-slash-music video for the Berlin-based band Parcels. The all-too-real fears of home invasion create an unexpected and genius backdrop for the track “Withorwithout,” as Howdeshell crafts a film fraught with palpable tension.
The video stars Milla, a fan of Parcels in real-life and in the film, drifting aimlessly through an evening in a mid-century LA home that matches the retro feel of the band. Her husband (played by Carsten Norgaard) is similarly disconnected until the reality of the couples’ glitter-masked intruders sets in.
Howdeshell composes each shot with an eye toward maximizing the nail-biting vibe of the material, shooting at times through Milla’s point of view to give an intimate sense of the experience. The white-knuckle tension of the garage scene and sudden squall of violence in the home is amplified against the highly contrasting music (with such a lovely song playing, what could possibly go wrong?) The melancholic disco-inflected tones are set against the unnerving intensity of the visuals, then the sinister one-two punch of a twist comes out of nowhere and ties up the piece with a creepy bow.
Special attention was paid to the sound design, providing all the right effects without stepping on the band’s track, then smashing you over the head in a brutally perfect way when the music disappears and we’re thrown into the horror-filled world on the screen.
Parcels keyboardist Louie Swain says, “We developed the idea of Milla being this darkly obsessive Parcels fan in a strained marriage and seeing where this could go in a slasher movie. This video is our celebration of the American slasher film, a genre which is fascinating in its traditionalism and strict maintenance of its classic tropes with each new rendition. The masks, the kitchen knife, the home invasion and of course the final girl – which in our case got to be Milla, the iconic queen of horror herself.”
Jovovich, the video’s Executive Producer, met the band at Cannes Film Festival this year. After bonding over a shared love of horror, Parcels brought her the concept for the video. Jovovich instinctively brought on her longtime friend Ben Howdeshell to bring it to life.
Says Howdeshell, “When Milla called me to describe what she and Parcels had in mind for a horror music video/short film hybrid, I was immediately all in. We envisioned and experimented until we felt like we’d hit all the right notes for integrating this incredible song into a visually beautiful, yet horrific story.”
The video’s star has been an instrumental figure in Howdeshell’s filmmaking career, starting from when he was on the post production team for her blockbuster Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Since then Howdeshell has edited and contributed VFX work for several features and television shows, all the while honing his writing and directing craft, as evidenced by his award-winning short film-turned-digital series Project: SERA with IGN and 20th Century Fox. Howdeshell has also helmed commercials for brands such as HP, Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser, Bacardi, and Doritos, and is currently in development on two feature scripts.
Following “Withorwithout,” Howdeshell has again been tapped by 20th Century Fox to direct an original short film set in the aftermath of Ridley Scott’s Alien, in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of that iconic piece of film history. This officially-sanctioned latest addition to the Alien universe will be released in 2019.