Coming out in theaters and VOD today from RADiUS is When Animals Dream, an unconventional coming-of-age werewolf film set in a fishing village. Daily Dead recently caught up with When Animals Dream director Jonas Alexander Arnby, who discussed casting lead actress Sonia Suhl in her first feature film, the inspiration of Brian De Palma's Carrie, and more.

How did the idea for When Animals Dream originate?

Jonas Alexander Arnby: I wanted to make a coming-of-age story. To be quite honest, I’m actually not a werewolf fan. I don’t hate werewolf movies, I just never thought that I would make a werewolf movie, but there was something about taking a visual metaphor like a werewolf, which is almost a cliché of a coming-of-age transformation, and putting it into a young girl’s developmental transformation. We wanted to use the werewolf as a potent visual metaphor.

When Animals Dream is lead actress Sonia Suhl's first film. What made her right for this role?

Jonas Alexander Arnby: Sonia is actually from that neighborhood [the Denmark coastal town where the film was shot]. Her dad is a fisherman and she used to work in a fishing factory. I wanted somebody who knew how to slice a fish and knew the smell of fish and blood.

When I casted Sonia, we did a test where we poured fake blood all over her and she had to be animalistic. She showed another side of herself, going a bit over the edge and showing us how much she was capable of doing.

Did you set out to use more practical effects than CGI?

Jonas Alexander Arnby: It’s a low-budget movie and I wanted to make sure we made something that was just as believable as the characters and the environment. The transformation isn’t just going to be a scene where she lies flat on her stomach and turns into a werewolf. I wanted her to know what it’s like in the different stages of the transformation. We had real hair and real makeup.

What were the most challenging scenes to shoot?

Jonas Alexander Arnby: When the mother attacks the doctor, it was kind of intense for me because up until that point of the shooting schedule, we’d only been doing psychological drama, so it felt weird doing it.

Another one would be the sex scene in the bunker at night. It was very intense being stuck together down there with him and her having werewolf sex while the water was splashing in and the tide was rising. That was a bit of a challenge.

Were there any other horror films or coming-of-age movies that influenced your approach to filming When Animals Dream?

Jonas Alexander Arnby: Brian De Palma’s Carrie has always been one of my favorite girl coming-of-age stories. I always liked the fact that there is no happy ending. There is innocence, but it’s being betrayed. Carrie has always been a big inspiration to me, especially on this film.

What do you have on deck that you can tease for our readers?

Jonas Alexander Arnby: I have a very interesting project in development. I’m going on a research trip to Greenland for it next month. It’s a true story thriller about two guys in 1906 that go on an expedition to Greenland. They get stuck in a cabin for three years in no man’s land and they have to figure out how to survive. The drama becomes about the fight for survival and who eats what first. The fascination of being deserted in a place like that creates a thriller with certain hardcore elements.


  • Derek Anderson
    About the Author - Derek Anderson

    Raised on a steady diet of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books and Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Derek has been fascinated with fear since he first saw ForeverWare being used on an episode of Eerie, Indiana.

    When he’s not writing about horror as the Senior News Reporter for Daily Dead, Derek can be found daydreaming about the Santa Carla Boardwalk from The Lost Boys or reading Stephen King and Brian Keene novels.