The Mexican film-maker went to the same CUEC film school as Alfonso Cuaron and Emmanuel Lubezki. His English-language debut premieres in Sundance in Park City At Midnight on January 23. Spoiler alert.

Dark Factory’s Reversal stars Tina Ivlev, Richard Tyson and Bianca Malinowski in the chilling tale of Eve, who escapes from a cellar and engages in a battle of wits with her captor, Phil.

Prior to the revenge movie, Cravioto directed El Mas Buscado, on which he met Dark Factory co-founder Daniel Posada, who produces Reversal alongside Rodolfo Marquez and Alex Garcia. Paradigm represents US rights.

You came to the project via the pre-existing script
When I read the draft I felt the original screenplay moved more like a B movie. I am a screenwriter too and that’s maybe the most important part in the process so I proposed some changes. We wrote some parts on set. The end was different – we changed a lot of scenes.

Eve and Phil share an electrifying dynamic
The main character invites you to go with her into this complicated and violent night. The character emanates a special energy. For me that’s the most important thing in the story. It’s a film with a very clear concept: it’s very energetic. I was attracted by this strange relationship between Eve and her captor Phil.

It’s a strange atmosphere and the characters go through different stages of emotions: sometimes you feel sorry for her and sometimes you feel sorry for him but then you feel he’s manipulating the situation. Sometimes you feel the energy between them is like father and daughter.

He’s trying to manipulate her but in the end he has a normal life – a wife and a child. I wanted the audience to think why he was doing this. I was very impacted by these stories about these girls in the US who were captives in attics and so on by these guys who had normal lives. I was inspired by these real stories. He is a guy with a family who is doing these horrible things.

The cast is interesting. You have veteran Richard Tyson as the captor and Tina Ivlev as Eve who will not be too familiar to movie audiences and could break out
The casting director Carla Hool is a Mexican working in LA. She sent a lot of videos of people but the first video I saw was Tina and I decided from the very first moment I saw her. It’s amazing how she works. She has a lot of intuition and she’s very disciplined. She’s a jewel.

She hadn’t done much acting before. When I saw Richard’s face I recognised him from a lot of films from the 90s. His face and his body movements gave me the inspiration for Phil. We called them both back a few times and decided they would be our main characters.

When did you shoot Reversal?
We shot in late 2013, on digital. We were looking for classic texture to remind us of movies from the 70s and some French movies from the 90s. The production took 20 days. I asked Daniel for more time because there were a lot of people dying on screen and we had gallons of blood and we needed to shot in a cool way. We started with 30 days but, you know, the money thing… and Daniel told me we had 20 days.

Where did you shoot the movie?
We shot the film entirely in the Los Angeles area. Every location is natural. We started scouting approximately two months before we shot. We had to move quickly. We shot parts of it at Santa Monica Pier after the final cut was ready because we felt we needed a connection with Eve, so we thought it would be good to shoot something simple to help connect us to her. I wanted to shoot with a cell phone, something that was easy with available light with a few characters from the film and a small crew. Santa Monica was the closest to Daniel’s house.

You got into Sundance via a rather circuitous route. Tell us
When we were working on post in LA at Daniel’s house we wanted to get into Fantastic Fest but we could not finish in time, but they invited us to present a teaser and Daniel told me to make it. I didn’t want to cut a teaser so I started cutting some scenes and a short time later Jason [Tamasco] from Dark Factory called me to say the audience liked the teaser and there were some people in the audience from Sundance and they asked Jason and Paradigm to see the film.

We weren’t looking for Sundance – it was a coincidence. Daniel and I were realistic and didn’t think we’d get in and then in November I received the call from the director of the section to invite me. It was the first time a section director had called me and I was very excited and Daniel didn’t believe me when I called him.

What is next?
We have a very interesting project at Dark Factory now. The screenplay is ready. It’s called 100 Cries and we start pre-production in March. It’s a strange project because it’s a remake of an old Mexican horror film that shot in the 60s, a B movie. It’s a horror-thriller with a touch of comedy.