Award-winning director Cat Hostick knew she wanted to be in the entertainment industry from a young age. She shot her first horror movie as a teen and hasn’t looked back since. Cat went on to amass a body of incredible work, including two series with Eli Roth, the master of horror. One of those series, the horror anthology Urban Legend, found Cat at the helm for two terrifying episodes. 

Recently, I had the privilege of chatting with Cat about directing those episodes of Urban Legend, working with Eli Roth, her directing inspirations and more. 

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This interview has been condensed for length and clarity. 

Melody McCune: We at GGA love a good origin story. What’s Cat Hostick’s origin story? 

Cat Hostick: I knew from a young age I wanted to be in the biz (maybe six or seven) and never wavered since. I made my first horror movie in grade seven. I totally did a shower scene like in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and showed it to my class.

I think my teacher was horrified for many reasons. Whenever I had a project at school, I’d try to find ways to spin it into a film or commercial presentation. It’s just how my brain worked. Upon graduating, I moved to Toronto from my small town at 17 and pursued acting.

So, I was an actress first. I was tired of auditioning for roles I didn’t like or waiting to be hired, so I decided to start making my own films. I then realized how much I loved directing (which I didn’t know I was doing in grade seven) — and viola. I started with shorts, then music videos, then a feature, then more features, then television. Of course, that’s its own story.

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MM: Let’s talk about Urban Legend. Can you tell me what it’s about and how you got involved? 

CH: Urban Legend is a discovery+ one-hour horror anthology executive produced by Eli Roth (director of Hostel, Cabin Fever). Each episode is based on actual urban legends, which I didn’t realize are wildly popular. I had previously worked for the showrunner on other shows, and he was getting this new series called A Ghost Ruined My Life.

They were only considering directors who had done horror features, which I had. I was brought on to direct and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for best direction for that episode. When Urban Legend came along, Eli was happy with what I did with his other show, so I was asked to come along for the Urban Legend ride!

Urban Legend director Cat Hostick poses in front of a dark gray background with her hand on her chin while wearing a yellow sweater.

Pictured: Cat Hostick

MM: Describe this series using three words. 

CH: Horrifying. Palpable. Suspenseful.

MM: What was it like working with Eli Roth, the master of horror? Did you pick up any directing tips or tricks from him? 

CH: Hostel was one of my favorite horror movies growing up. It’s weird and also super cool to get to work with someone you look up to. Eli and I spoke about this because he had the same thing with Quentin Tarantino, and they went on to do Inglorious Basterds together.

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A fun feature of Urban Legend is that at the end of each episode, Eli interviews the directors about the episode they directed. Those interviews feel like a masterclass on their own. What is seen on TV is only about 5 percent of the conversation due to time.

But we really dig deep, talk horror and Eli will point out things about my work I didn’t even notice about myself as a director. He’s very observant and a walking encyclopedia for horror and beyond. I honestly don’t think I’ve met anyone who loves horror as much as he does. He has supported me as a director, and it’s been a pleasure to keep creating with him.

MM: You directed two episodes: “The Creep in the Walls” and “The Haunted Shower.” Can you talk about how you approached these episodes, direction-wise? And was it a collaborative experience between you, the actors and the writers? 

CH: Let’s start with “The Haunted Shower.” Clearly, I’ve been waiting for this moment since grade seven when I took my first stab (no pun intended) at my version of the famous Psycho shower scene. Well, now I get an episode where I can do it for real. There’s something about a shower scene that is so vulnerable and horrifying. Although there were many scenes in the shower in this episode, the final shower scene is quite brutal (where Mara/the demon possessing her slits the bully’s throat, killing him).

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I felt it needed to be pulled off eloquently because I didn’t want to just coat it with fear but with sadness since our demon was bullied to death. Otherwise, the message doesn’t get across. I always try to find and express the meaning, not just the horror. So, that is where I started with the approach since it comes down to that moment. Our editor on that episode, Navin Ramaswaran, gave that scene a harrowing feel. We spoke about that scene early on and how I wanted it to layer in subtle sadness. He executed it better than I could have imagined.

For “The Creep in The Walls,” it was such a small cast: two girls playing sisters and one bad guy. So, my approach was to find a solid cast, and I would have a solid episode. Script-wise, I felt confident because I was in the trusted hands of writer/director Ethan Evans and writer Jess Bartlett. I knew I didn’t have to worry about story problems. These guys did such a good job with the script.

We cast Emily Cole and Nicole Ruse to play our leads. They were amazing and had a great synergy. Because we all had such a good relationship, there was trust, and pushing them to get even more out of them was easier. They were always game. Consummate professionals.

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MM: What do you hope viewers take away from watching the episodes you directed? 

CH: At the core of urban legends, they are cautionary tales. For “The Haunted Shower,” I cried on set while filming the scene where the boy being bullied is burned to death in the shower. It hit close to home. I hope I directed it in a horrifying and emotionally graceful way that will resonate with people to think twice about abuse/bullying, especially in a karmic sense.

MM: Do you find there’s a difference in directing styles when directing horror versus other genres? 

CH: Of course. I would direct a comedy differently than a horror. The genre calls for different conventions. But I do feel and have been told my style is somewhat consistent. I like a lot of movement as opposed to static shots. I like a lot of “oners” when I can. My style is more Spielbergian. For horror, probably more like James Wan.

Urban Legend director Cat Hostick stands outside on a sidewalk in a city while wearing a floral top and looking into the camera.

Pictured: Cat Hostick

MM: Who are your directing inspirations? 

CH: I always say I want to be the female Christopher Nolan. Inception and Interstellar are my two favs.

MM: What else is on the horizon for you, career-wise? 

CH: I’ve got a new show I created I’m excited about called Poly is The New Monogamy. Maybe the first thing I’ve done that’s closest to my voice. No release details yet, but excited to share more about it soon.

There also may be more in the works with Eli!

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MM: Have you watched anything interesting lately?

CH: I watch a lot of docs. The Harry & Meghan doc series on Netflix is very interesting, as is learning about that relationship with the media.

MM: Name your top five favorite films.

CH: Inception. Interstellar. Midsommar. The Wolf of Wall Street. Catch Me If You Can.

Follow Cat on Instagram (@cathostick) and Twitter (@cathostick). Stream Urban Legend now on discovery+.

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Melody McCune
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