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V/H/S/99 Really Did Subject One Of Its Stars To Climbing Into A Spider-Filled Coffin - Exclusive

"V/H/S/99" is now available on horror streaming service Shudder, using the "V/H/S" horror anthology format to once again explore the horrors of a nostalgic era. This time, audiences can enjoy a series of shorts that share a late-'90s horror vibe, from the supernatural music-doc energy of Maggie Levin's "Shredding" to Flying Lotus' ode to the horrors of children's competition series in "Ozzy's Dungeon" and more. The shorts vary widely in subgenre and tone, giving a diverse, colorful, and scary look into the terrors of yore.

Perhaps one of the most frightening is Johannes Roberts' claustrophobic "Suicide Bid," a story of hazing gone woefully wrong. The film sees the pledge of a shady sorority, Lily (Ally Ioannides), buried in an open grave. It's a cruel trick, but the poor pledge gets even more terrors than she bargained for when the sisters put spiders in the grave — and of course, that's not all the poor girl faces. It's a realistic set of frights, and Lily seems genuinely terrified.

As it turns out, her spectacular performance wasn't all merely performative. In fact, in a new exclusive interview with director Johannes Roberts, he revealed that the scene loaded the very real coffin full of very real spiders with the actress stuck inside. 

With real spiders, who knows what's going to happen?

In our interview, Johannes Roberts shared that the concept for "Suicide Bid" "was literally, 'What's your worst nightmare?' and [to] build on that over and over." Roberts set out to produce the short practically, which means, "If you do it practical[ly], we're going to put a girl in a coffin," to put it as baldly as possible. Of course, a real coffin and a practical approach also tend to mean "There's going to be real spiders, and there's going to be real water." These are two factors that are genuinely uncontrollable, so "Who the f*** knows what's going to happen?" 

Roberts and the DP set the cameras, and then the spiders were put in. "It's like, 'Okay, they're going there,'" he explained. "When you put spiders ... there's no dress rehearsal, it's just like, 'That's what happens.'" Spiders do what they're going to do! As a consequence, he continued, "It's like, 'Okay, that's pretty f***ing horrible. Oh, and it got on her face! That's pretty awful.'"

Roberts' approach was experimentation tempered with surprise. "I was like, 'I'm going to push this to the max,'" Roberts explained. Ally Ioannides "wasn't allowed to move because [she]'d crush the spiders, so she had to play paralyzed." With the actress helplessly stuck, Roberts did what any director would do: He asked, "How many spiders can we put in there?" He initially got an answer of one or two, but "as the director," he explained, "[I'm] like, 'Oh, okay, could we do two, or could we do 10?'" He put in a bundle — and couldn't specify exactly how many — but the poor actress had to stay motionless as spiders crawled around her, including on her face.

As for Ioannides? The spider invasion was tough, though Roberts said, "She was a trooper, a real, real trooper." For his part, he warned her that "This s***'s going to happen. Good luck," and following that actual direction, as he put it, "The s*** happened, and she went with it." The end result is a harrowing production process alongside one of the more horrifying shorts of recent years.

"V/H/S/99" is now streaming on Shudder.