Prather founded the Spooky Movie International Horror Film Festival in 2006. The last screening of the festival, which is at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, will be "A Little Bit Zombie" on Sunday night.
How do you choose the films for the festival?
They come through submissions, they come from alums and they come from going to other festivals. I went to Tribeca [in New York] this year, and I'm going to South by Southwest. It can be tricky -- you don't want to get something that has already been released in the area, though that doesn't necessarily disqualify a film. We try to get stuff that people might not always see. With AFI, we have room for the true independent filmmakers that are out there.
Why do people like being scared?
There are people much, much smarter than me who have done studies on this. The theater is a safe space. It's like a roller coaster -- you get on, scream your brains out, then get off at the end of it. Not everyone likes that, of course. We do try to recognize that. I will not say that we have everything for everybody, because we don't. I gravitate towards the horror-comedies and the things that you're not quite sure what you've just seen.
What are the ingredients of a good horror movie?
That's a loaded question. It's how it's executed. Horror is very diverse. We'll play stuff that might lean toward horror-comedy, we'll play stuff that might be more cerebral and we'll have what people might consider more traditional. It really comes down to the directing, the writing, the acting -- it all has to come together. That's a really tough needle to thread for an independent picture. When we find something that's great, we like to really ring the bell and get people aware of these films.