screenwriter Christopher Landon was weaned on horror
classics such as Rosemary's Baby and Stephen
King novels, and at 32 years of age, he finds his
taste for fear has only grown.
He penned the
thriller Disturbia, in theaters now, which
features a teenage boy, Kale (played by Shia LaBeouf), whose
father's death leads him to act out in violence. He finds
himself under house arrest, and in a fit of boredom,
Kale begins to spy on his neighbors. Soon he begins to
suspect that one of his neighbors is a serial killer,
and the inevitable questions about whether Kale is
disturbed or not begin to rise from his family and friends.
"The thing is
that the people around him think it's a byproduct of
his boredom and his cabin fever," Landon says.
plenty of death, the goal of the movie, Landon says, is not
to appeal to lovers of "gore porn," but to help viewers
understand Kale, his family, and friends.
of horror movies is that there's very little
connection to the characters, so when they die, that's it,"
he says. "We really take the time to let people know
Kale and the people around him and build up who they
are, so when the thrilling part happens, they care
about what happens to the characters."
Landon, the son
of famed actor and director Michael Landon, who died in
1991 of pancreatic cancer, says he has been a fan of the
macabre his whole life. He points to his father, who
acted, wrote, and directed for several family-friendly
dramas, including Little House on the Prairie
and Highway to Heaven, as one source of that
"My dad had a
secret dark side that not a lot of people knew about,
and part of our bonding experience is that on Saturday
nights we would watch horror movies," he says. "Now I
feel that what I'm doing, my dad would have liked to
do if he hadn't put himself into a box with the work
comfort in the macabre movies of his youth, and even went
through what he admits was a strange phase in his early 20s
in which he couldn't sleep without the comforting
sounds of horror in the background. "I would go to bed
and fall asleep to the sound of Mia Farrow screaming,"
he says. "[Rosemary's Baby is] one of the
most flawless horror movies ever."
work has included 1999's urban drama Another Day in
Paradise, which scored well with reviewers. And
while he's had professional successes, the last decade has
also brought changes of its own, beginning with Landon's
decision to come out of the closet. "That was a lot to
deal with," he says. "It was almost too much to handle
all at once, and I ended up going into a reclusive
It didn't help
that during this same period one of his best friends died,
and Landon, who had also watched his father die, decided on
a move to Austin after visiting the city.
"For me, I
reached a point where I became disenchanted with
everything," he says. "My participation with everything
stopped, and I started to question what it was that I
wanted to do. I did absolutely nothing, and it was the
best thing I ever did."
During his year
there Landon began to unwind, and found his love of
writing undiminished. He slowly began writing again, and
within a few weeks had sold a pilot to CBS; soon
afterward, he wrote Disturbia.
Now back in Los
Angeles, Landon feels recharged and productive. He's
working on a horror movie project for DreamWorks, and is
slated to work on an ABC television project.
with this place in my career right now," he says. "Of
course I want to direct, but I haven't been running into
that, because I want to make sure I get one side down before
I jump to another."
Disturbia, Landon is excited about having
worked with the hunky young LeBeouf.
"He's a great
actor, and the perfect person I would have wanted for
this role," he says. "Girls are totally digging him; now I'm
waiting to see what gay men do."
He's happy about
the support early audiences have given to the movie's
approach, and happy that he's not the only fan of horror.
"The other thing
I find interesting is how gay people and the community
in general are drawn to the genre," he says. "Look at
how many brilliantly talented [gay] people are in this
genre, such as Clive Barker. There's some kind of link
there; there's a real love of the suspense factor."
But don't expect
any tantalizing treats for gay viewers in this movie, he
homoerotic going on in this movie," he says. "There is
in my next one, but not this one."