Moon Knight Directors Benson And Moorhead Made A Meta Horror Gem You Should Check Out

"Moon Knight" is the story of a man (Oscar Isaac) suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder. One of his personalities, Steven Grant, is that of a meek but intelligent man who works in the gift shop of a museum. The other, Marc Spector, is a total badass who spends his nights fighting on the side of an ancient Egyptian God, imbued with his powers and a protective suit

The premiere episode of the Marvel Studios series on Disney+ tosses audiences right into the chaotic life of Grant, who fades in and out of his dueling identities during fights and car chases. The second episode is a lot more chill, slowing things down to focus on exposition and dialogue between the opposing personalities. The quick shift from non-stop action to backstory and conversations could bore audiences if not done correctly, but Marvel hired just the right guys for the job.

The directing team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead have experience making clashing personalities interesting. Before they got the Marvel gig (directing the second and fourth episodes of "Moon Knight"), the duo first teamed up to create a super low-budget horror movie called "Resolution" (pictured above) that is driven by opposing characters, banter, and ancient evil. 

Micro budgeting horror

"Resolution" begins with Michael (Peter Cilella) receiving a video of the dangerous shenanigans of his Meth-addicted best friend, Chris (Vinny Curran). Believing Chris sent the video as a cry for help, Michael goes to the Native American reservation where his friend is squatting and offers to take him to rehab. When Chris refuses, Michael handcuffs him and forces him into sobriety. As his bestie detoxes in an abandoned house, Michael roams the reservation, finding mysterious video and audio recordings of past and future events. Michael and Chris soon realize an ancient force is manipulating their lives to satisfy its hunger for a story.

In an interview with Outtake, Benson, who also wrote the script, discussed working around a tight budget:

"Aaron and I couldn't get a movie made in the traditional way, with financing and stuff. We were just two kids trying to make our first movie. And so the script was written so that we could make it with the amount of money in our checking accounts. ... That guided ... the process."

They had $20,000 to make the movie, which is chump change in filmmaking, but the duo combined their creativity and produced a horror movie that is deep, interesting, and, most importantly, scary. Because of their limited budget, the majority of the film takes place in a hollowed-out shell of a house littered with random junk, childlike drawings of spooky creatures, and a crusty mattress. Not the scariest of environments, but it communicates a sense of isolation and emptiness that will pay off later when weird things begin to happen. 

The filmmakers couldn't afford to rely on special effects or spooky creature costumes to create suspense and uneasiness, so that responsibility rests on the characters and their interactions with each other. First, the pair talk about Chris' addiction and depression, and later the focus turns to the inexplicable videotapes that Michael finds scattered around the woods. The discussions between the two cover a range of emotions throughout the movie, and they also offer a glimpse into the battle of personalities Benson and Moorhead later created in "Moon knight."

'A story with an ending'

A horror movie that never shows a monster and gives the audience one jump scare sounds doomed to fail, but Benson and Moorhead use opposing characters and dialogue to keep us engaged.

At the beginning of the film, the two friends are at odds with one another. Michael wants Chris to get sober and Chris wants to be free so he can get high, so the dueling agendas result in a lot of friction. Similar to "Moon Knight," both characters have their own dueling ideas about responsibility and morality, but they will have to learn to work together to survive.

Their conversations shift from humorous to heartbreaking as they spend a weird week together in remote woods full of human and supernatural threats. The struggle between the two friends and the mysterious threat lurking in the woods creates the tension, suspense, and anxiety we all hope for in a good horror film. 

Following in the footsteps of other horror films like, "Scream" and "Cabin in the Woods," Benson and Moorhead's "Resolution" also acts as a critique of the horror genre itself and audiences' insatiable craving for it. Michael and Chris are at the mercy of an unseen creature who is only satisfied by a story with an ending it approves of, which could also describe the viewer of any film. This reading of the movie led to one critic classifying the movie as a "twisty meta-horror," even though Benson claims he "didn't know what meta meant when [they] made the movie."

Regardless of your personal classification or reading of the film, it's a damn good movie and an impressive achievement on a barely-there budget.

Without CGI, fancy camera tricks, or a visible monster, Benson and Moorhead made a meta-horror film exploring friendship, addiction, time loops, supernatural evils, and the horror genre itself. It's easy to see why these two got the "Moon Knight" gig, and why they were the perfect team to make the banter between Steven Grant and Marc Spector almost as entertaining as fights and car chases. Hopefully they bring something equally as compelling to the second season of "Loki."