by Abhi Parasher

For fans of the Who’s Afraid? book series, this year’s Supanova will hold a special treat, with author Maria Lewis’ short film, The House That Hungers having its Australian premiere at the convention followed by a Q+A with Lewis and lead actress, Kimie Tsukakoshi (The Family Law).

“Writing a short story is a really specific art form and requires a specific set of skills,” says Lewis. “So, I started off by reading a lot of horror short films and tried to dissect what I loved about them.”

The House That Hungers follows a young woman who finds herself trapped inside a house that devours all life. She has to rely on her wits and cunning to survive. The young woman in the film, Polixenia, finds that in order to satisfy the hunger of the house, she needs to feed it life, which she finds in abundance through a ‘tinderesque’ service full of overly impassioned men.

“So much of horror is placing women as the victim; watching her run up the stairs when she should run out the front door. Meanwhile, the pandemic and the lockdowns were happening, and I was watching all these men choosing their dicks over their lives,” Lewis laughs.

Working as a writer since the age of 16, Lewis is a veteran of the craft. Her creative writing talent led to her debut novel Who’s Afraid?, which kickstarted a multiple book Supernatural Sisters series.

“I’ve been working full-time as a writer across different fields, and I had this moment last December where I was like, ‘I really can’t do anything else’,” shares Lewis, who is also a film curator, journalist and pop culture etymologist.

With The House That Hungers, Lewis has successfully taken her first step into the directing realm.

“I didn’t suggest myself as director for The House That Hungers, it was actually the production company I worked with, We Made A Thing,” says Lewis. “I’ve been in the industry for years now, and I wanted to expand my skill set. You don’t really get a better opportunity to direct than a short film which is based on a short story you have written.”

Holding multiple supernatural sequences that would stress out even a veteran director, the film presented a creative and logistical challenge for Lewis and her team.

“The film is dedicated to Ron Cobb, who did the conceptual design for the cantina scene in Star Wars along with working on a lot of other great films. He lived around the corner from me, so I got to spend a lot of time with him,” says Lewis. “I wanted to tie his ideology into the movie, which is to do as many in-camera effects as possible.”

As busy as ever, Lewis is currently working with Marvel on Mockingbird: Strike Out which is due for release in 2023. The book follows S.H.I.E.L.D. super-spy Bobbi Morse who spreads her wings and dives into a brand-new espionage thriller from Marvel Heroines.

The House That Hungers will have its Australian premiere at 4:00pm on Sunday, 18 June, followed by a Q&A panel with select cast and crew in Sydney.