IU alumnae Bridget Murray and Riley Dismore are beginning production in April on their short film “White Elephant.” The film is a thriller-comedy about two best friends forced to embrace their instincts after an unexpected invasion interrupts their first holiday spent together.
Though Murray, who graduated in 2018, and Dismore, who graduated in 2019, overlapped during their time at IU, they didn’t become close friends until they reconnected in Los Angeles. When Murray was approached by independent producer Mike Gioia with the idea of doing a break-in film, she knew who she wanted to collaborate with.
Traditionally, a lot of the gruesome activity in thrillers happens to women. Actress and co-writer Murray said while women are often waiting to be at the helm of the horror in most break-in films, she and Dismore wanted to take a nontraditional approach and ultimately redefine the genre.
“We want to subvert the idea of the ‘scream queen’ by having women on screen who are capable of making quick decisions and actively becoming a key player in their own story,” Murray said. “We want to make something for the femme gaze and put a spin on the genre in general.”
Director and co-writer Dismore said a lot of the friendship aspects in the short are based on her and Murray’s own relationship. She said it was important to depict an authentic female friendship in the film, which many thrillers don’t seem to showcase.
“Feminism and horror, in my opinion, are not antitheses,” Dismore said. “But I think that a lot of times, especially in horrors and thrillers written by men, the nuances of female and femme friendships are all wrong.”
The film’s mission is to not only turn the genre on its head with an accessible feminist message, but also to give some new voices real-world experience while working on their set of the film.
In doing so, the duo has teamed up with fellow Hoosiers on this project, including Indiana native Selena Webb as the director of photography. Webb most recently worked on the 2022 Oscar-nominated short film “Please Hold.”
They also recruited Baxter McCory, a class of 2018 Media School graduate and former member of IU’s longest-running improv group Full Frontal Comedy, as a cast member.
Murray and Dismore are set to complete their final round of crowdfunding for the project at the end of the month, and they hope to add more Hoosiers to the credits.
Those interested in the film can watch the promo video.