Category: Horror Movies
Katie, a young woman, is trying to make it in the cutthroat world of modeling in New York. When Katie innocently accepts an offer to have new photos taken for her portfolio, the experience quickly turns into an unthinkable nightmare – Severely beaten, battered, bruised, and left for dead, she will have to tap into the darkest places of the human psyche to not only survive her ordeal, but to ultimately find the strength to exact her brutal revenge. The film was made by the same creative team as the controversial 2010 film: Director Steven R. Monroe, Producers Lisa Hansen and Paul Hertzberg, and Writer Neil Elman teaming up with Thomas Fenton (Saw IV).
I Spit on Your Grave 2 is an American rape and revenge horror film directed by Steven R. Monroe, who directed its predecessor, I Spit on Your Grave—which was based on Meir Zarchi’s 1978 film of the same name. The film was given a limited theatrical release at one theater and has been received negatively by critics.
About the Story
Katie Carter (Jemma Dallender) is an aspiring model from Missouri who works as a waitress in a New York City restaurant. Desperate to update her modeling portfolio, she answers an advertisement offering a free photography session. She then meets three Bulgarian siblings, photographer Ivan (Absolom) and his assistants Nikolai, known as “Nicky” (Aleksiev) and Georgy (Baharov), who becomes infatuated with Katie.
She leaves the photo shoot after disagreeing with Ivan about a topless shot. Georgy later arrives at Katie’s apartment and apologizes regarding the incident. Katie accepts his apology and is given a flash drive containing her photos. Before leaving, Georgy states that she can keep the pictures for her privacy, upload, or use the photos as she chooses.
Later that night, Katie wakes up to find Georgy filming her and shoots him with an electroshock gun. Although Kate tries to escape, Georgy binds, gags and sodomizes her. Katie’s neighbor, Jayson, arrives and tries to stop the rape but Georgy stabs and kills him. Georgy panics and calls both his brothers. Nikolai and Ivan later arrive and clean up all evidence of the crime. Ivan then force-feeds Katie ketamine, rendering her unconscious.
Katie wakes and finds herself naked and handcuffed to a pipe in an old basement. The brothers relentlessly rape and torture her. She overpowers Georgy and escapes, but discovers that she is now in an unknown city. When she approaches Bulgarian police, she is taken into safe custody by Detective Kiril (Zlaterev), who informs her that she has been abducted to Bulgaria. After an interview, Detective Kiril hands her over to Ana (Stockley), who claims to be from a rape crisis center but is really Nikolai and Georgy’s mother. Katie is returned to the basement and Valko (Silverleaf), a friend of the family’s father, electroshocks her genitals then brutally rapes her, leaving her bloodied. Ivan then beats her.
Katie is then placed in a box with her crucifix necklace and Valko’s electroshock gun and buried alive. The ground beneath the makeshift coffin breaks and she falls into the sewer system below. Naked and hungry, Katie steals from a nearby church and is soon caught by priest Father Dimov (Pelka), who recognizes her as a rape victim. He gives her food, clothing, and a Bible. Katie approaches the U.S. Embassy, but leaves before going inside. Back at the church, Dimov offers support. As Katie goes back to the sewers, she leaves her Bible open for Dimov to read. After reading the passage “vengeance is mine”, Dimov realizes that Katie seeks revenge against her rapists.
Interview with Jemma Dallender
How did you end up working on I Spit On Your Grave 2 – what drew you to playing such a tough role?
Well, initially my agent mentioned that she had an audition for me, and as soon as she said the role contained full frontal nudity, I was like, ‘No way! Not for me at all’- but she persuaded me to head along to the audition anyway and as I got into the process I realised I loved the character and the controversy of the film. It was a role I could get my teeth into and as an actress I’m always looking for new challenges. Also, the plot and the sentiment of the film, you realise why there are such graphic scenes, violence, nudity- it makes sense, it’s not in there just for pure shock factor. I of course watched the original film, and the 2010 remake and I loved the idea and the controversy surrounding this kind of role.
So you think that the audience has to see the character, Katie, pushed to the brink – that it gives reasoning for her behaviour so that you’re rooting for her when she exacts her revenge?
Exactly. She’s made to feel so small, and treated so mercilessly. They [the male characters who kidnap Katie] reduce the character to nothing and she kind of loses her humanity in all ways possible- in order to get to that stage of the film you need to see the graphic and intense stuff she experiences.
Your character goes through a major ordeal to say the least, but she ends up being pretty badass by the end- Do you have a favourite revenge scene?
It has to be the way she gets Ivan [let’s just say it involves a vice certain parts of the male anatomy]. It was so disgusting, but ended up being quite funny to film too… The prosthetics were too big so it had to be changed, and refitted so we had a laugh at that. Although I think Joe [Absalom] was quite uncomfortable by the end, laying there strapped to a table, half naked all day. I felt kind of guilty to be honest so saying I enjoyed them is a bit mean, and an overstatement. The guys felt so bad during their rape and torture scenes, and I was like, ‘it’s fine, we’re only acting’, and they said, ‘wait ‘til you have to do the mean stuff’, and they were right I felt awful! But the vice scene…It’s just the ultimate revenge a female character can get and I’m sure probably the worst scene for any man to watch…
I guess it was important to be able to have a laugh on set as the subject matter was so intense- did you have any other techniques to deal with the intensity of the role?
To be honest, most of the time I would avoid having a laugh and a chat on set so that I could stay in character. I had to be in a really deep and dark place and I find it hard to find that place and then switch between that and happy when the cameras aren’t rolling. I stayed pretty sombre whilst on set. But off-set of course we had a laugh and all got on really well.
You mentioned you watched the original 1978 I Spit On Your Grave and the 2010 remake; did you feel under any pressure following up these infamous female leads with the sequel?
No, not pressure really. I don’t think it’s good to place too much pressure on yourself when tackling a role and this is an entirely new film in its own right so I wasn’t trying to recreate something. Of course I watched them, and they are great- they made me interested in the role. I just tried to make it my own and put my own spin on the character. This instalment in comparison with the other two is a lot more brutal and intense so I was ready for the controversy. People are always going to have an opinion about films like this but I think that’s good- weather they like it or not. It’s better to provoke a reaction, rather than making a film that nobody wants to talk about.
Do you think the film could be described as a ‘feminist’ horror due to taking back control in an otherwise male dominated cast and wreaking rape-revenge?
I definitely think it’s a feminist film- strong female lead roles- lead roles in general are few and far between nowadays, particularly in horror. There is definitely a sense of empowerment. Katie is tough and pulls through, even physically and we don’t see that often in film so it was a really refreshing and challenging role to take on.
Are you a horror film fan?
This may surprise you, but I’m actually quite squeamish- so the blood, guts and gore isn’t really my thing. It wouldn’t be my first choice to watch something like that. But I do like psychological thrillers, and horrors and supernatural stuff too- like, ‘The Conjuring’, I saw that recently. That’s the kind of horror that would keep me awake at night…
I Spit on Your Grave 2
Directed by: Steven R. Monroe
Starring: Jemma Dallender, Yavor Baharov, Joe Absolom, Aleksandar Aleksiev, Mary Stockley
Screenplay by: Neil Elman, Thomas H. Fenton
Production Design by: Severina Stoyanova
Cinematography by: Damian Bromley
Film Editing by: Kristina Hamilton-Grobler
Costume Design by: Desislava Andonova
Set Decoration by: Rosen Stefanov
Music by: Corey A. Jackson
MPAA Rating: R for strong sadistic violence, torture and rape, graphic nudity, language and some drug content.
Studio: Anchor Bay Films
Release Date: September 20, 2013
Taglines: Deliver them to evil.
There are demons so terrible that no mortal man of God could successfully drive them back to Hell. The only option is for the exorcist himself to invite possession and then commit suicide, dragging along the demon to damnation – so the Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints – or Hellbenders – was formed. A group of elite, highly-trained exorcists, they live in a constant state of debauchery so they will be ready to go to Hell at any moment. When an infernal Norse demon called BLACK SURTR escapes into New York City intent on cracking open the gates of Hell, the Hellbenders must use every ounce of their debauchery to battle the demon and save the planet from eternal damnation.
I’m just barely old enough to have experienced the anxiety of possible nuclear annihilation. In the early ‘80s we still had bomb drills at my Catholic school outside Washington, D.C. I’ve always been grateful for the nightmares of slow, rotting death via radiation poisoning, if only for giving me the context to later understand what an awesomely inspiring movie DR. STRANGELOVE is.
Kubrick treats nuclear war as absolutely real, dangerous and terrifying, but still manages somehow to laugh at it. It’s thrilling and cathartic, a premise filled with amazing visuals and the kind of ecstatic, paradoxical misbehavior that pulls iconic performances from its cast. I can only imagine what a frightening and inspiring movie it must have been in ’64.
I’ll let other filmmakers pretend they can grow up to be Stanley Kubrick, and I don’t think HELLBENDERS is as scary as STRANGELOVE – I’d rather face demonic possession than nuclear annihilation, and to be honest, I’d probably rather face Hell than total oblivion. (This is a director’s statement about a comedy, I promise.)
It’s now 2012, and more Americans believe in The Devil than they do the Theory of Evolution, and by a widening margin. The Devil is real in America and exorcism is a film conceit that can still frighten a jaded movie-going audience.
When the extended cut of THE EXORCIST made a theatrical run in 2000, I attended a screening at Radio City Music hall and watched it with more than a thousand people. It was still effective twenty‐seven years later, and I don’t think anybody in the audience was less than terrified. The most remarkable part of the experience for me, though, was how much the audience laughed. I can’t imagine anybody thought the movie was ridiculous; I think it was laughter as release, a communal cry of “Uncle!” We had all just been so thoroughly emotionally pummeled, so overstuffed with sensory input that we would have opened any valve we could. As an audience, as a crowd of strangers at the mercy of the same overwhelming spectacle, laughter was all we could reach for. (I laugh and cringe at UFC fights by the same instinct.) But does that mean THE EXORCIST is a funny movie? I kind of think it does.
I don’t remember how the concept for HELLBENDERS first landed on me, the idea that a preacher would necessarily need to court sin and debauchery in order to be spiritually prepared for total war with Hell, but once I had it, it was impossible to think about an exorcism story on any other terms. And I thought that was really, really funny.
There’s been no shortage of exorcism movies in the past few years and the conceits are starting to stretch pretty thin. But when you make all those ideas explicit ‐ all of the rules, the discipline, the antispiritual bureaucracy of any church -‐ it gets ridiculous enough to be fun.
And it’s such an opportunity for character. It was great fun thinking of the kinds of ministers and priests who would end up as Hellbound Saints; the compulsively-‐ sinful man the church wouldn’t take in any other branch, the overly‐pious man who hates sin and sinning but will make that sacrifice to fight Satan, the female minister who wants to be doing spiritual battle on a scale she couldn’t with the Unitarians. The entire cast (Clifton Collins Jr! Dan Fogler! Andre Royo!) was so good and so clearly got the fun and weird innocence of the concept. I grew up thinking of Clancy Brown as the heaviest of the heavies; he spends half this movie wearing nothing but a rug and a woman’s purple bathrobe.
But HELLBENDERS isn’t satire. I don’t have any interest in camp. The hardest part of the movie was balancing the gonzo characters and real idea of violence, both spiritual and physical. From the few small screenings we’ve had so far, the hardest laughs and biggest reaction we’ve had came from Catholics, people who were raised on a weekly diet of church.
What I hope is funny about HELLBENDERS is what’s scary about THE EXORCIST- Hell might be real. Our kind and benevolent Creator may be holding the threat of eternal damnation and unimaginable suffering over our heads until the day we die. Hilarious!
Directed by: J.T. Petty
Starring: Clifton Collins Jr., Clancy Brown, Andre Royo, Robyn Rikoon, Macon Blair
Screenplay by: J.T. Petty
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, some disturbing images, pervasive language, sexual content and drug use.
Studio: Lionsgate Films
Release Date: October 18, 2013
When roommates Brad and Sergio accidentally arouse the dead, they team up with sexy amateur ghost hunter, Fernanda, to expose the evil inside their home. But just as the guys start to get close to their hot new partner, they discover that a horny demon wants in on the action. Now, cameras are up, and more than fear is rising in this outrageous romp where only one thing is certain: someone is gonna get screwed.
In order to impress a girl, two roommates set out to make a documentary about a murder that took place in their house decades ago. The girl thinks that the victim’s ghost still resides there, the two guys think that making a movie with her will get them laid. But after they set cameras up around the house, and scary/funny things begin to happen that seem legitimately supernatural… they realize that the ghost is not only real, but she’s become smitten with our guys. Now, they have to try and find a way to get this ‘ghost bitch’ out of the house. A subversive, comedic take on the found footage genre.
Ghost Team One Review
“Ghost Team One” aims to do for “Paranormal Activity” what “Scary Movie” did for “Scream” — parody a successful horror franchise with a raunchy mix of scatological and sexual humor — but an aggressively obnoxious tone undermines a decent concept and appealing cast. Insufferable result fails as subversive satire or simply a silly good time, limiting the appeal of helmers Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser’s feature debut to the frathouse circuit and like-minded havens for lowbrow humor. Simultaneous VOD and modest theatrical release from Paramount (home of “Paranormal,” natch) reps the savviest way to capitalize on minimal commercial potential.
As presented in de rigueur found-footage fashion, slacker buddies Sergio (Carlos Santos) and Brad (J.R. Villarreal) throw a wild house party leading to an unexpected discovery: Their home is haunted. And rather than any old run-of-the-mill spirit, it’s the ghost of an Asian prostitute they’re living with. Would-be hilarity ensues, severely hampered by an overall lack of creativity and uninspired exploitation of the “erotic paranormal activity” premise.
Despite the potential to push the envelope of hard-R content a la “Scary Movie” 13 years ago, there’s very little nudity (a random extra flashes her breasts at the camera early on, while a later shot of Brad sleeping in the buff inexplicably blurs out the nether-regions) and absolutely no explicit sex. Not that anyone can accuse the filmmakers of good taste, given the foul-mouthed preponderance of masturbation jokes and sexual references.
A juvenile sensibility dominates throughout, extending to the characterizations of the guys’ third roommate, Chuck (Tony Cavalero), a racist moron and drug addict struggling to stay sober, and significant femme roles — foxy paranormal groupie Fernanda (Fernanda Romero) and Brad’s burnout friend with benefits, Betsy (Meghan Falcone).
Even with the atypical casting of two Latino leads, the pic makes no attempt to avoid the typical genre pitfalls of sexism, homophobia and racism, with Asians particularly bearing the brunt of the tasteless jokes. The largely unseen and completely unheard cameraman is named Billy Chen (Eric Sun), and seems to exist exclusively so Chuck can call him “Ching Chong.”
Cavalero’s over-the-top idiot reaches his nadir in the third act when he’s possessed by the sex worker’s spirit (he starts making pho and dressing in flowered robes). What might have been a provocative gambit of role reversal all too predictably devolves into an absurdly prolonged minstrel show, replete with “me so horny”-level humor.
Santos and Villarreal get off to a shaky start with thoroughly unappealing characters, but eventually develop a likable camaraderie buoyed by solid comic instincts. An unexpected reference to Alfonso Cuaron’s “Y tu mama tambien” and an amusing punchline to the requisite Ouija board scene (“It’s made by Hasbro!”) hint at the possibilities if they had had more consistent material to work with. Romero and Falcone similarly show flashes of promise above the restrictions of their roles.
Second Review for Ghost Team One
Written and directed by Scott Rutherford and Ben Peyser, Ghost Team One is a found footage horror comedy that centers on roommates Sergio (Carlos Santos) and Brad (J.R. Villarreal), who, after throwing a wild house party, arouse the lecherous spirits dwelling in their home. The next morning, they team up with a drop-dead gorgeous partygoer and ghost enthusiast, Fernanda (Fernanda Romero), to help expose the lingering specters. Soon, however, both Sergio and Brad start competing for Fernanda’s affections, which leads to one titillated demon wanting in on the action.
Though Fernanda is beautiful and sexy, we quickly learn that she’s a bit crazy, too, and Segio knows it. That dynamic progresses and interweaves throughout the movie, with the boys slowly discovering that Fernanda isn’t quite the perfect girl they thought she was. Between the three of them, they begin to uncover secrets about the house, attempting various (and sometimes hilarious) tactics to lure the demon out and capture it on camera.
But at its heart, Ghost Team One is about the friendship between Sergio and Brad, whose close bond fuels most of the comedy. Both boys have a natural chemistry together that’s boosted by the film’s effective use of improv. The interplay between them is very believable, and in most instances their reactions to paranormal encounters are insanely true to life.
One of my favorite recurring bits they have is, when they get too freaked out in the house, they simply run away to the nearest busy street and catch their breath before they decide it’s safe to go back inside. It’s a subtle gag, but one that most found footage horror films wouldn’t try for fear of taking the characters out of the action. But because this is a horror comedy, it actually works.
Ghost Team One
Directed by: Ben Peyser, Scott Rutherford
Starring: Carlos Santos, J.R. Villarreal, Tony Cavalero, Meghan Falcone, James Babson
Screenplay by: Andrew Knauer, Arthur Pielli
Production Design by: Rémy Englander
Cinematography by: Ben Peyser
Film Editing by: John DeJesus
Costume Design by: Rémy Englander
Music by: Mike Plas
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, pervasive language, some drug use and violence.
Studio: The Film Arcade
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Taglines: You will know her name Carrie.
A sheltered high school girl unleashes her newly developed telekinetic powers after she is pushed too far by her peers. Carrie White is a lonely and awkward teen who is constantly bullied at school by her peers, and beaten at home at the hands of her religious mother. But Carrie has a secret: She’s been blessed with the terrifying power of telekinesis; and when her peers decide to pull a prank on her at prom, they’ll soon learn a deadly lesson: If you play with fire, you get burned.
Carrie is an American supernatural horror film. It is the third film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1974 novel of the same name, though Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Screen Gems, who produced the film, employed a script that was reportedly more faithful to King’s original novel. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz as the titular Carrie White, and Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother, Margaret White. Following the initial announcement of March 15, 2013 as the release date, the film’s public launch was later postponed to October 18, 2013.
About the Story
Alone in her home, Margaret White (Julianne Moore), a religious, yet disturbed woman, gives birth to a baby girl, intending to kill the infant but changes her mind. Years later, her daughter Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz), is a shy, unassertive girl, who nears her graduation from Ewen High School in Maine.
While showering after gym class at school, Carrie experiences her first menstrual period. She naively thinks she is bleeding to death. The other girls ridicule her, and longtime bully Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) records the event on her smartphone and uploads it to YouTube. Gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) comforts Carrie and sends her home with Margaret, who believes menstruation is a sin. Margaret demands that Carrie abstain from showering with the other girls. When Carrie refuses, Margaret hits her with a Bible and locks her in her “prayer closet”. As Carrie screams to be let out, a crack appears on the door, and the crucifix in the closet begins to bleed.
Miss Desjardin informs the girls who teased Carrie that they will endure boot-camp style detention for their behavior. When Chris refuses, she is suspended from school and banned from the prom. She storms out, vowing revenge.
Carrie learns that she has telekinesis, the ability to move things with her mind. She researches her abilities, learning to harness them. Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) regrets teasing Carrie in the shower room and attempts to make amends by asking her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), to take Carrie to the prom. Carrie accepts Tommy’s invitation. When she tells her mother, Margaret forbids Carrie to attend. Asking her mother to relent, Carrie manifests her telekinesis. Margaret believes this power comes from the Devil and is proof that Carrie has been corrupted by sin.
Chris, her boyfriend Billy Nolan (Alex Russell), and his friends plan revenge on Carrie. They kill a pig and drain its blood into a bucket. Margaret tries to prevent Carrie from going to the prom, but Carrie telekinetically locks her mother in the closet. At the prom, Carrie is nervous and shy, but Tommy kindly puts her at ease. As part of Chris and Billy’s plan, Chris’s friend, Tina Blake (Zoë Belkin), slips fake ballots into the voting box, which name Carrie and Tommy prom queen and king.
At home, Sue receives a text from Chris taunting her about her revenge on Carrie. Sue drives to the prom, arriving just as Carrie and Tommy are about to be crowned. Sue sees the bucket of pig’s blood dangling above Carrie but, before she can warn anyone, Miss Desjardin hustles her out, suspecting that Sue is planning to humiliate Carrie.
Chris dumps the bucket of pig’s blood onto Carrie and Tommy. Chris’s shower video appears on large screens above the stage, inciting laughter from some in the audience, until the bucket falls onto Tommy’s head, killing him. Enraged, Carrie takes her revenge telekinetically, killing several of the students and staff (except for Miss Desjardin). A fire breaks out and, as the school burns to the ground, Carrie walks away, leaving a trail of fire and destruction in her wake. Chris and Billy attempt to flee in Billy’s car. Chris urges Billy to run Carrie over, but Carrie flips the car into a gas station, setting the place on fire them.
Carrie arrives home and she and Margaret embrace. Margaret tells Carrie about the night of Carrie’s conception. After having shared a bed platonically with her husband, they yielded to temptation one night and, after praying for strength, Carrie’s father “took” Margaret, who enjoyed the experience. Margaret attacks Carrie, who attempts to flee but kills her with several sharp tools. She becomes hysterical and makes stones rain from the sky to crush the house. When Sue arrives, a furious Carrie grabs her with her powers, but senses something inside Sue, and tells her that her baby is a girl. Carrie pushes a stunned Sue out of the house to safety as the house collapses and apparently kills the Whites.
About the Production
In May 2011, representatives from MGM and Screen Gems announced that the two companies were producing a film remake of Carrie. The two studios hired Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to write a screenplay that delivers “a more faithful adaption” of King’s novel—Aguirre-Sacasa previously adapted King’s work The Stand into a comic book in 2008.
Upon hearing of the new adaptation, King remarked, “The real question is why, when the original was so good?” He also suggested Lindsay Lohan for the main role and stated that “it [the film] would certainly be fun to cast”. Actress Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie in de Palma’s adaptation, expressed an opinion on the choice of Lohan for the character of Carrie White, stating that she “was like, ‘Oh my God, she’s really a beautiful girl’ and so I was very flattered that they were casting someone to look like me instead of the real Carrie described in the book. It’s gonna be real interesting.” In March 2012, the role of Carrie White was offered to Chloë Grace Moretz, who accepted the role.
Kimberly Peirce directed the film, while Moore starred as Margaret White and Gabriella Wilde played Sue Snell. Alex Russell and Ansel Elgort are also members of the main cast, and Judy Greer played the gym teacher Miss Desjardin.
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Julianne Moore, Cynthia Preston
Screenplay by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Production Design by: Carol Spier
Cinematography by: Steve Yedlin
Film Editing by: Lee Percy, Nancy Richardson
Costume Design by: Luis Sequeira
Art Direction by: Nigel Churcher
Music by: Marco Beltrami
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.
Studio: Sony ScreenGems, Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Taglines: There’s something about Mandy all the boys love..
Mandy Lane. Beautiful. Untouched. High school royalty waiting to be crowned. Since the dawn of Junior year, men have tried to possess her. Some have even died in reckless pursuit of this 16 year-old Texas angel.
Chloe and Red invite Mandy out to Red’s family ranch for the weekend. Mandy sees it as an excellent opportunity to cement her new friendships. The boys see it as an opportunity to finally get with Mandy Lane. Driving across the Texas landscape, the kids begin to gently chip away at the wall that surrounds her. Joints are smoked. A keg is stolen off a beer truck. Pills are crushed to fine powder and inhaled. Mandy observes it all with the gentle interest of a foreign tourist. And they love her for it.
At the ranch, all the boys start to make their move – each one hoping to be the first to attain the unattainable Mandy Lane. However, as night falls and the booze, drugs, and hormones take over, things are said and advances made which can never be reversed. Suddenly, sweet Mandy finds herself pit in a brutal struggle for survival against someone whose interest she has rejected. Forget reading, writing and arithmetic. In high school, learning to be yourself and not succumbing to peer pressure is the ultimate test. And this is one exam that Mandy is determined not to fail.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane is an American slasher film directed by Jonathan Levine, and starring Amber Heard, Michael Welch, Whitney Able and Anson Mount. The plot centers on a group of popular high schoolers who invite an attractive outsider, Mandy Lane, to spend the weekend at a secluded ranch house, where they are followed by a merciless killer.
About the Story
At a Texas high school, Mandy Lane is an outsider who becomes a “hot chick” over the summer. She starts getting a great deal of attention from her male classmates. One of those classmates, Dylan, invites Mandy to a pool party at his house and she accepts with the provision that her best friend, Emmet (another outsider and bullying victim), can come along with her.
At the party, Dylan makes passes at Mandy and puts his hand on Mandy’s thigh. Emmet sprays Dylan with a supersoaker. Dylan attacks Emmett, throws him into the pool, and holds his head under water until Mandy intercedes. Emmet retreats to a roof overlooking the pool. Dylan comes to get him down but Emmet tricks him into jumping from the roof into the pool. When Dylan jumps he hits his head on cement and dies.
Nine months later, popular stoner Red is having a small party at his father’s cattle ranch and has invited Mandy along. She obtains permission from her aunt and agrees to go. Since Dylan’s death, she has been befriended by many of Dylan’s friends. Conversely, Emmet has been almost completely ostracized and is subjected to even more intense bullying.
When they arrive at the ranch, Chloe refuses to drive her car over the cattle grid and so, with a shortage of seats in the car still being used, Mandy and Bird elect to walk to the ranch. While walking, Bird tries to prove he is a “gentleman”, but before he can do more than kiss Mandy’s cheek, he is interrupted by Garth, the ranch hand, who drives Mandy and Bird the rest of the way to the ranch.
The kids go swimming in a nearby lake, then return to the house to drink and play games. After a disparaging remark, Jake walks out, followed by Marlin. They stop in a cattle shed where they engage in oral sex. Jake leaves after an argument. When Jake is far from the shed, Marlin gets knocked out with the butt of a double-barrel shotgun by a hooded figure. Marlin awakens to find the double-barrel shotgun rammed down her throat, almost killing her and breaking her jaw.
When Jake returns to the house, the power goes out. The group separates: Red goes to help Chloe who is upstairs alone, Bird goes out to start the generator, and Mandy starts lighting candles in the kitchen. Mandy is confronted by Jake, who confesses to turning off the power in order to spend time alone with her; when he tries to kiss her, she refuses, and he storms out. The power comes back on.
Jake goes looking for Marlin after being rejected by both Mandy and Chloe, and takes Red’s car and gun. Jake drives around in the darkness and eventually finds Marlin sitting by the lake. Just as he realizes she is injured he is pushed into the lake and then shot in the head; the hooded killer, who is revealed to be Emmet, then breaks Marlin’s neck with the butt of the shotgun.
Soon after, Bird, Mandy, Red and Chloe are joined by Garth at the house after a stranger in Red’s car fires fireworks at them on the porch. Bird chases after the car, believing that Jake is the driver, but encounters Emmet. During their fight, Emmet blinds Bird by slashing him across his eyes and stabs him to death. At the ranch, Mandy falls asleep in the kitchen, and Red and Chloe fall asleep on the couch.
In the morning, Emmet enters the house and approaches the sleeping Mandy, stroking her hair. Garth hears noise in the kitchen and suspects someone is in the house, but upon rushing downstairs finds Mandy still asleep with blood on her hair; “wake up” is spelled out in bloody alphabet magnets on the refrigerator. Garth and Mandy realize that they need to leave and go to wake up Red and Chloe.
As they open the door to leave, Emmet shoots Garth. Red and Chloe escape out the back door of the house and run to Chloe’s car, where they discover the bodies of Jake and Marlin dangling from a barbed-wire fence. Distraught, Chloe and Red kiss one another, when Red is shot from afar; paralyzed, he is killed off-screen by Emmet. Chloe flees, heading back to the ranch, and finds Bird’s body in the hay fields. As she runs, she is chased by Emmet, who is driving her car.
Meanwhile, Mandy retrieves the keys to Garth’s Bronco and finds the knife that Emmet used to kill Bird. She sees Chloe running towards the ranch, screaming, pursued by Emmet. Chloe runs to Mandy, but upon embracing her, Mandy stabs her in the stomach. While Chloe bleeds to death, Emmet and Mandy discuss their suicide pact; Mandy will take pills before shooting Emmet in the heart. Mandy then refuses, never having intended to kill herself. She and Emmet get into an argument and begin fighting. Garth hears Mandy yell for help and shoots Emmet, who attacks him.
All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Amber Heard, Anson Mount, Whitney Able, Michael Welch, Edwin Hodge, Melissa Price, Peyton Hayslip, Brooke Bloom, Amber Bartlett
Screenplay by: Jacob Forman
Production Design by: Thomas S. Hammock
Cinematography byB Darren Genet
Film Editing by: Josh Noyes
Costume Design by: Michelle Lynette Bush
Art Direction by: Megan Hutchison
Music by: Mark Schulz
MPAA Rating: R for strong disturbing violence, pervasive drug and alcohol use, sexuality / nudity and language – all involving teens.
Release Date: October 11, 2013
In this reverse ghost story, teenager Lisa Johnson (Abigail Breslin) and her family died in 1986 under sinister circumstances but remain trapped in their house, unable to move on. Over a period of six “days”, Lisa must reach out from beyond the grave to help her present-day, living counterpart, Olivia, avoid the same fate Lisa and her family suffered.
Haunter is a Canadian supernatural horror film directed by Vincenzo Natali, written by Brian King, and starring Abigail Breslin. The film premiered at the 2013 South by Southwest Film Festival, and was picked up for U.S. distribution there by IFC Midnight.
Haunter was filmed at Toronto and Brantford, Ontario, Canada. Production took 25 days. Natali said that he was drawn to the film because, unlike Splice, which took him twelve years to complete, Haunter only needed to be shot.
Haunter premiered at South by Southwest film festival on March 9, 2013, and received a limited US theatrical release on October 18, 2013. It was released on home video on February 11, 2014, and made $129,447 on domestic video sales.
About the Story
Lisa Johnson, the ghost of a teenage girl who becomes aware that she is dead, haunts a house somewhere in northern Ontario. Along with her parents and brother, who are unaware that they are dead, she is stuck on the same day they were murdered in 1985. As she becomes more aware of her circumstances, she realizes that she can make contact with people in other timelines. As she explores this ability, a pale man appears and warns her to stop. Undeterred, Lisa uses personal items from other people killed in the house to make a connection with Olivia, part of a family living in the house in the future who will become the next set of victims.
With the help of Olivia and the spirits of other murdered girls, Lisa is transported into the timelines of other victims and unravels the mystery of the house. She causes her family to come to terms with the knowledge that they are dead, and thus “awakened” they become able to assist her. After her family escapes to the afterlife, Lisa stays behind to stop the murderous evil spirit who haunts the house. With help from the evil spirit’s family (the original victims), Lisa overcomes him and rescues another family from suffering the same fate. Thus breaking the cycle of possessions and murder-suicides, Lisa awakes, no longer reliving the same day.
Directed by: Vincenzo Natali
Starring: Abigail Breslin, Sarah Manninen, Stephen McHattie, David Hewlett, Peter Outerbridge, Michelle Nolden
Screenplay by: Brian King, Matthew Brian King
Production Design by: Peter Cosco
Cinematography by: Jon Joffin
Film Editing by: Michael Doherty
Costume Design by: Patrick Antosh
Art Direction by: Ian Hall
Music by: Alex Khaskin
MPAA Rating; None.
Studio: IFC Films
Release Date: October 25, 2013
Taglines: Blood is the strongest bond.
A seemingly wholesome and benevolent family, the Parkers have always kept to themselves, and for good reason. Behind closed doors, patriarch Frank rules his family with a rigorous fervor, determined to keep his ancestral customs intact at any cost. As a torrential rainstorm moves into the area, tragedy strikes and his daughters Iris and Rose are forced to assume responsibilities that extend beyond those of a typical family.
The most important task that the girls face is putting meat on the table— but not the kind that can be found at the local supermarket. As the unrelenting downpour continues to flood their small town, the local authorities begin to uncover clues that bring them closer to the secret that the Parkers have held closely for so many years.
We Are What We Are is an American horror film directed by Jim Mickle. It was screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and in the Directors’ Fortnight section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. It is a remake of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name. Both a sequel and prequel have been announced.
About the Story
During a torrential downpour, a woman confusedly staggers into a store as the butcher receives a delivery. After several attempts to address her, she finally responds and explains that the foul weather has strongly affected her. The butcher says that it will get worse before it gets better, and she purchases groceries. As she leaves the store, she sees a poster that advertises missing teenage girls. Before she can reach her car, she begins bleeding from her mouth and loses consciousness as she falls into a rain-filled ditch, where she drowns.
Later, the sheriff tells Frank Parker that his wife has died. Consumed by grief, Frank does not show up to identify the body but instead sends his two daughters, Rose and Iris. Doctor Barrow, who delivered Frank’s young son Rory, explains that an autopsy is mandated by the state. During the examination, he finds evidence of Parkinson’s disease. Meanwhile, Frank is comforted by his kindhearted neighbor Marge, and, while driving through the storm later, finds a motorist in need of assistance; the film implies that he attacks her with a tire iron.
Rose and Iris debate whether they are prepared to take over their mother’s religious duties, but Iris is adamant that they perform this year’s ritual. Rory, too, has trouble keeping the family’s fast. Eventually, Rory wanders into his father’s shed and finds a young woman held hostage. Frank angrily demands that Rory leave, then forces his daughters to kill and butcher the captive. They reluctantly obey, and the entire family eats her remains after a bit of urging from Frank. Marge attempts to deliver a vegetarian meal to the Parkers, noting she thinks she heard a woman crying in the shed, but she receives an icy welcome from Iris.
We Are What We Are
Directed by: Jim Mickle
Starring: Kelly McGillis, Ambyr Childers, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, Julia Garner
Screenplay by: Nick Damici, Jim Mickle
Production Design by: Russell Barnes
Cinematography by: Ryan Samul
Film Editing by: Jim Mickle
Costume Design by: Elisabeth Vastola
Set Decoration by: Daniel R. Kersting
Music by: Jeff Grace, Darren Morris, Phil Mossman
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violence, bloody images, some sexuality, nudity and language.
Studio: Entertainment One
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Niamh is the lone survivor of a bloody massacre after the furniture and objects in her family’s isolated house take on a monstrous life of their own. The police ignore her wild stories and the family friends and social worker that take her in try to introduce a new life. But in this psychological thriller, Niamh is unable to leave her violent past behind her, endangering everyone who crosses her path.
Dark Touch is a British supernatural horror film that was directed and written by Marina de Van. The film had its world premiere on April 18, 2013 at the Tribeca Film Festival and stars Missy Keating as the sole survivor of a bloody massacre that caused the deaths of her family.
In a remote town in Ireland, eleven-year-old Neve finds herself the sole survivor of a bloody massacre that killed her parents and younger brother. Suspecting a gang of homicidal vandals, the police ignore Neve’s explanation that the house is the culprit. To help ease her trauma, dutiful neighbors Nat and Lucas take her in with the supervision of a social worker. Neve has trouble finding peace with the wholesome and nurturing couple, and horrific danger continues to manifest. Haunted objects, an eerie score and a moody, oneiric look complement this intense and frightening peek into child abuse and the searing imagination of writer / director Marina de Van.
If you don’t know Marina de Van’s work, you should. She has written with Francois Ozon (8 Women), and her daring first feature, In My Skin, included her main character eating her own flesh. Her second feature, Don’t Look Back, screened at Cannes in 2009. De Van’s films are intense, intellectual and brutally honest. This newest film is a viciously drawn and taut supernatural thriller that adds to her growing body of bold work.
Dark Touch Review
Following the massacre of her family troubled Niamh moves in with a neighbouring couple and tries to put her life back together. But, when unexplained occurrences start labelling her a suspect in the murders, things take a sinister turn.
Dubbed “the Irish Carrie” – presumably by someone who’s never seen De Palma’s seminal, coming-of-age shocker – Dark Touch follows Missy Keating, daughter of Ronan, as the child blessed/cursed with telekinetic powers in unforgiving, small town Ireland. If that sounds like a weird premise, it’s because it is. And it works about as well as one might assume.
After the massacre of her entire family, young Niamh (Keating) moves in with a couple of kindly neighbours in an effort to move on with her life. But, when spooky things start happening, Lucas (Delaney) starts to suspect Niamh is to blame, and that she may have had more to do with the murders than she’s letting on. His wife (Plunkett) remains convinced that, as a victim of child abuse, she is simply disturbed and unused to normal life, and refuses to believe anything sinister is afoot, even when the evidence mounts against Niamh.
Ireland isn’t exactly known for its horror – the less said about the disgraceful Shrooms the better – and it’s interesting to note that writer/director De Van actually hails from France. The film is actually a Swedish, French and Irish co-production, with the remote area in which she sets her story remaining unnamed.
It doesn’t really resemble Ireland, in spite of the torrential rain plaguing the film’s opening moments, and there’s no spatial awareness, so it’s never clear how big the village is, how far the houses are from each other, or even where the local school is. Most of the action is limited to one, rather grand house but there’s no sense of how big it is, where any of the rooms are in relation to each other or how easily it would be escaped.
The heavy accents make everything unintentionally funny too, especially considering the very, very British social worker (sporting the fakest pregnancy belly in the history of cinema) over-pronounces even the simplest words, making everyone else sound like a yokel in comparison. The central cast isn’t helped by a ropey, exposition-heavy script and there are some dodgy, overly-dramatic performances on show here as a result. Plunkett and Delaney, who deserve much better than this, are likeable enough as the couple who unwittingly take Niamh in, but their parts are reduced to background noise as the kid takes centre-stage, while the social worker does little besides sit and listen quietly, offering no resolution to the poor child.
Keating, to her credit, does a decent job communicating her inner anguish, with what few lines she’s given, but even she can’t make her role as the instigator of a bloody, telekinetic massacre in the middle of the bog seem believable. As an actress, she more than holds her own, but she requires a far meatier role than this to really show off what she can do. However, at the very least, she’s already outshone her Da, who has thus far performed Postman Pat’s singing voice, in a widely-panned kids’ film, along with the husband of a wannabe singer in the tonally weird Goddess.
Dark Touch has two, very distinct, Major Moments that take place at the beginning and the end, with a bloated middle consisting mainly of knowing looks and overlong silences. The massacre is the most well-handled and shocking sequence of the entire film, grisly and gory and horrible, so it’s a shame that it happens within the first half hour. It almost feels as though the movie has shot its load too early, because although it aims to end on just as high a note, it takes too long to get there and the road is much too clearly signposted.
The final shot is brave and arguably quite shocking, too, but it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. It’s nothing particularly new either, and even casual genre fans will poke holes in it. Christophe Chassol’s nicely tinkling score is perhaps the only element of the film that really works, and it does lend an element of atmosphere to certain key sequences – particularly when juxtaposed with a barking dog and a screeching baby – but it cannot elevate the cliché-ridden material.
Towards the final act, it becomes apparent that De Van cannot decide whether Niamh is inherently evil, or just a messed up kid. She becomes something of a saviour for abused children, but then acts out by burning everyone’s dollies at a birthday party. It’s a weird contradiction for a character who already cannot stand to sleep alone and who moves things, as she admits herself, “when I cry” suggesting deep-seated emotional issues that would possibly be best solved through therapy. As one character matter-of-factly notes, there are a lot of unanswered questions here, and De Van doesn’t seem quite sure which side to take. Niamh is, therefore, neither heroine nor villain.
Directed by: Marina de Van
Starring: Marie Missy Keating, Marcella Plunkett, Padraic Delaney, Aidan Gillen, Charlotte Flyvhom, Ella Hayes
Screenplay by: Marina de Van
Production Design by: Tamara Conboy
Cinematography by: John Conroy
Film Editing by: Mike Fromentin
Costume Design by: Lara Campbell
Set Decoration by: Cecilia Jalakas
Music by: Christophe Chassol
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Element Pictures, Eurimages
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Taglines: An accident. Two families. One truth.
Sophia Monet is a young woman battling depression after losing both her parents in the last six months. She becomes increasingly isolated and convinces herself that she’ll never see her parents again, dismissing any notion of an afterlife. She is drawn out of this flux when she meets a new love interest, Adam. After Adam’s mysterious disappearance, Sophia becomes determined to track him down. Her search leads to an eerie apartment building, where passing the threshold means leaving the living and entering the realm of the dead.
Into the Dark, also known as I Will Follow You into the Dark, is a 2012 supernatural romance thriller written and directed by Mark Edwin Robinson. The film stars Mischa Barton and Ryan Eggold as lovers separated by supernatural elements. The project went into production in January 2012.
The film’s original title derives from the Death Cab for Cutie song of the same name. On 14 May 2012, Epic Pictures Group released an international trailer for the film. The film premiered at the Hollywood Film Festival on 20 October, 2012, where it was nominated for the Best Feature Film award. The film will be released theatrically in the United States on 11 October, 2013.
Mark Edwin Robinson’s I Will Follow You Into the Dark (the film’s sales agent, Epic Pictures, is selling it internationally as Into the Dark) is set to come out later this year. The film stars Mischa Barton (“The OC”, The Sixth Sense) as the troubled Sophia Monet. I recently caught up with Barton at her home to discuss the film, her character and some of the more intense moments to shoot on set.
In the film, “A young woman (Mischa Barton) who is severely depressed after the deaths of both her parents retreats within herself, only to be drawn out of her depression by an unexpected romance with a man named Adam (Ryan Eggold). After Adam mysteriously disappears into the depths of a haunted apartment building, she vows to pursue him, even if it means crossing into the world of the supernatural.” Leah Pipes and Ryan Eggold also star.
Mischa Barton talks Into The Dark
The movie deals with a lot of grief and loss. What was it like charting your character’s arc through that?
For me, Sophia is one of these people who is making huge revelations about her life quite quickly and is kind of confused about everything. This whole rejecting God thing is a huge deal for her. A lot of people go through life not questioning things and, when they do, it’s a massive overhaul. That’s where her grief comes from. The crux of the story for me was the love story between her and Ryan [Eggold, who plays Adam in the film]. In order for her to go to the depths of what she goes to, the most important thing is that this love was real and palpable and that the audience wouldn’t question it. And then the other side of it was, “would it be scary enough for me?”
Now that I’ve seen it, the film has turned out more ethereal than I expected. Which I like as well. It is more of an Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind life after death kind of curious side of things as opposed to a straight horror. I think Ryan thought it would err more on the side of just being scary, but it’s not. It’s more about life and love and what’s worth it and what your beliefs are.
As far as her grief, I play grief well. I’ve always played these quite complicated, layered, dark, depressed characters. Sophia isn’t someone with a huge backbone when it comes to things. I mean she is, but she isn’t. She’s strong enough to know what she wants but she’s so uncertain about so many things in her life, but what she’s sure about is Adam.
Do you think that her being in such a negative place at the beginning of the film impacts her relationship with Adam?
Oh no, absolutely. It’s one of these capsule films about fate and this age where you’re questioning everything. Life after death, love, losing your parents. And grief hits you the hardest for the first time in your life because you haven’t been through that kind of grief before. I think for her it’s compounded and compounded and compounded by the fact that her father had these massive lies. And just the fact that she had to cover things up for so long. She lost her mother to a really gruesome looking battle with cancer and you don’t have to see any of this to believe that she’s had it about as hard as she possibly could. And she’s at this point where she thinks she’s given up on everything but of course she runs smack into Adam and it’s fate. And he brings out the best of her… Her art and whatever she was doing before have dissipated. Disappeared.
Astrid [Leah Pipes] is your boyfriend’s female roommate. That’s a complicated dynamic. You also don’t quite expect her to pull what she pulls near the end of the film.
No, she is possessed. She definitely… I think Astrid plays a necessary role in the film. I don’t have much to say about the relationship with Astrid because it was kind of hard to set the tone. It turned out the way it did. I think it plays quite well. It is what it is, I mean she’s got this new love coming into his life. Yeah I don’t really know what to say about Astrid except she’s a necessary evil and she becomes possessed. She plays a pivotal role. She’s just kind of a driving vehicle behind things and she shows what his life is like and the roommates are good supporting roles in showing what his life was before I came along, you know?
I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Directed by: Mark Edwin Robinson
Starring: Mischa Barton, Ryan Eggold, Leah Pipes, Frank Ashmore, Melinda Browne, Melinda Y. Cohen, Jessee Foudray, Willow Hale
Screenplay by: Mark Edwin Robinson
Production Design by: David L. Snyder
Cinematography by: Eduardo Enrique Mayén
Costume Design by: Tracey Moulton
Art Direction by: Effney Gardea
Music by: Jesse Voccia
MPAA Rating: None.
Studio: Epic Pictures
Release Date: October 11, 2013
Taglines: Embrace your inner demon.
Duncan’s (Ken Marino) life is a real pain in the ass. Tormented by a manipulative, crooked boss (Patrick Warburton), a nagging mother (Mary Kay Place) with a boyfriend 1/3 her age, a deadbeat new age dad (Stephen Root), and a sweet, yet pressuring, wife (Gillian Jacobs), his mounting stress starts to trigger an insufferable gastrointestinal reaction.
Out of ideas and at the end of his rope, Duncan seeks the help of a hypnotherapist (Peter Stormare), who helps him discover the root of his unusual stomach pain: a pintsized demon living in his intestine that, triggered by excessive anxiety, forces its way out and slaughters the people who have angered him. Out of fear that his intestinal gremlin may target its wrath on the wrong person, Duncan attempts to befriend it, naming it Milo and indulging it to keep its seemingly insatiable appetite at bay.
Poor Duncan Hayslip – he has an ass demon. A trooper in his pooper. And it’s all caused by PM– uh, PSM – Poor Stress Management. He needs to lighten his load. Or at least go drop one. So it’s a movie about a guy with a little creature up his butt that comes out and kills people, right? Well, why not – most horror movies have some kind of monster or monstrous character that goes running around killing everybody.
“The creature feature genre tends to be a little formulaic sometimes,” writer / director JACOB VAUGHAN recalls complaining to his co-writer and friend BENJAMIN HAYES, whom he had met in 2009 at SXSW. Vaughan was wondering how come so many of these kinds of films seemed to get funding – why couldn’t they? “I’m actually not a huge horror fan at all,” he notes. “I love ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ ‘The Exorcist’ and ‘Poltergeist.’ I’m not a slasher – I’m thematic.”
Vaughan was telling Hayes about a favorite David Cronenberg film – ‘The Brood’ – which stars Oliver Reed as a psychiatrist who tries to manage the anger of a woman who, when angry, births children from her belly and skin which then go off and kill people. “I was telling Ben, ‘Now, that is something great. It’s psychological. There’s a metaphor there. Wouldn’t it be funny if we made a horror film about a creature that killed people? And it should come out of the guy’s ass.’”
He began to laugh at his own suggestion – then began taking it seriously. “I’ve had stomach issues all my life, and it comes from stress.” So he imagined a fellow, a la The Incredible Hulk, who if angered or stressed, not only got horrific stomach aches, but had a horrific little creature come out of his rear end and target the people causing the stress. “The whole idea made me laugh, so I knew, if I did this, it would have to be funny. No way you can make a movie like this serious.”
Vaughan had gone to film school with filmmaker JAY DUPLASS and had been friends with him and his brother, MARK DUPLASS, since the early 1990s. A skilled film editor, Vaughan had been cutting films for the successful duo since working on their 2010 hit, ‘Cyrus.’
It was during the production of that film that Vaughan gave Mark Duplass a script of his idea which he and Hayes had written. “I had asked Mark if he might be interested in acting in it. But he had been shifting away from acting, but told me that he and Jay would love to executive produce the project and make it happen.”
The Duplasses became involved with a number of their own projects over the next few years. But, in 2011, during production of “Black Rock,” a thriller directed by Mark’s wife, Katie Aselton which Vaughan was cutting, he offered up a new draft for his friend to check out. “Mark went upstairs and read it in two hours, and when he came down, he was really pumped. And when Mark Duplass gets pumped about something, that’s a very good thing.” Duplass began sending the script to actors he knew and arranged for financing, and before long, BAD MILO! was under way.
BAD MILO! centers around DUNCAN HAYSLIP, an accountant at National Investment Group, a financial services/investment firm. “He doesn’t buy or trade,” Vaughan explains. “He’s just there to maintain accounts, give updates, do quarterly reports.” His manipulative boss, Phil (PATRICK WARBURTON), has been quietly siphoning off money from the accounts, though, and with disappearing money comes disappearing staff. “He needs to find a pushover to do the dirty work of firing people, playing it like ‘These are hard times.’” Duncan is his kinda guy.
“He’s somebody who has trouble standing up to people and voicing his opinion in a calm manner. So he’s a pushover – he can’t say no to his boss, because he’s afraid of losing his job.”
Duncan also faces pressures at home, from his wife, Sarah, played by GILLIAN JACOBS (from NBC’s “Community”). “His wife is ready for a family, but he doesn’t feel like he’s ready. He’s worried that he might not be a good dad and will screw everything up.”
The pressures begin piling up inside of Duncan, and before long, he finds himself suffering from excruciating stomach aches, resulting in the release, one night, of a little demon, which Duncan later names Milo. The creature – who can alternately look either don’tcha-wanna-hug-me cute or terrifyingly angry – emerges from Duncan’s you-know-where and dashes off, killing whomever it is that appears to be creating stress in his host’s life.
But Milo is more than just a disgusting little creep. “He’s a metaphor for what’s going on with Duncan,” the director says. “The movie is about facing his demons” – even the ones that come out of his butt. “It’s about him coming to terms with things he doesn’t want to face and growing up a little bit.”
Playing Duncan is actor KEN MARINO, who had appeared in Adam Scott’s Funny or Die short with Mark Duplass, “The First A.D.,” in which Marino played the world’s worst 1st assistant director, who’s… an asshole. “Ken had played a lot of those really broad characters,” Vaughan notes. “But he has this other side to him – he can play small, very nuanced characters, in a way that’s really endearing. He’s also one of these people with funny bones – they walk across the room and you laugh, and you don’t know why.”
Duplass had suggested the role to Marino during the making of “First A.D.” The actor notes, “When Mark Duplass asks if you’re interested in doing something, your first reaction is, ‘Hell yeah. What is it?’”
The appeal was instantaneous for Marino. “I always like a tortured, put-upon character, someone who is constantly feeling the pressures of the world. And this was a cool take on that kind of character. A guy who stresses out, and when things finally come to a head, this monster comes out of him and kills the things that are stressing him.” And besides, he notes, “If you go back and look at every movie I’ve been involved with, there’s somebody on a toilet, talking about a toilet, taking a shit, talking about shit, getting caught taking a shit. And my dad was a cesspool cleaner. So I guess I have a weird affection towards toilets and toilet humor. And this movie embraces the world of what happens on the toilet.”
The role required another important quality. “Duncan had to be a very likeable character,” Vaughan says. “If you’re gonna make a movie about an ass demon, you have to have somebody who can sell it. Duncan is reacting to a very real situation. It’s a ridiculous situation, but it has to feel like he takes it very seriously, and Ken knows how to do that.”
The audience has to believe it’s real, without getting a wink of the eye from the actor – which means playing it straight, says Marino. “I always feel like the best way to do something that’s absurd is to play it straight. That’s the most interesting way to go with it. You don’t have to do much, other than try to believe it. If you can do that, other people will believe it. If you wink at the audience, it takes them out of the movie.”
Marino is an expert at delivering blank-faced, surprised looks – the you-just-said-what “Huh?” take. “It’s in the DNA of the script that Duncan is overwhelmed by all these ridiculous things and crazy people that are around him,” says Vaughan. “So there’s plenty of opportunity for Ken to give those marvelous double-takes, those surprised looks.”
A Bunch o’ Nuts
The even-keeled Duncan is surrounded in the film by all kinds of kooks – played by some of the funniest character actor/comics Vaughan could round up. “I got so excited doing this movie,” says Marino. “Every time they brought somebody new in, I was, like, ‘Oh, my God – I love that guy!’ They just filled it up with so many great actors and actresses that I was a fan of. I couldn’t wait to come to work.”
Early in the film, Duncan and Sarah go to see a doctor about Duncan’s teeming gastrological problems, a Dr. Yeager, played by “King of the Hill’s” TOBY HUSS. “We quickly found out what a mad genius he is,” says Vaughan. “If you give just him a little bit of room to run, he will just go for it. And he will come up with most insane shit you’ve ever heard. It was hilarious.”
“Watching Toby was like watching Lebron James play basketball,” notes Marino. “You might be good at basketball, but then you watch him do his thing, and you’re, like, ‘Hold on a minute – he’s like another level of funny.’”
Shooting scenes with Huss and Marino resulted in, often, 18-minute takes. “I obviously couldn’t use all of it. That’s going to end up on the DVD as bonus material,” Vaughan says.
The director, in fact, encouraged his cast to improvise – particularly these people. “Jacob was great, because he had a specific vision, and he knew what he wanted,” Marino points out, “but he was open to letting actors play. The material he wrote was funny to begin with – but when you bring funny people in, it would be silly not to let them open up and take ‘em off their leash. Especially when you have somebody like Toby Huss.”
The two comic actors fed well off each other – Huss saying ridiculous things, and Marino reacting like someone who just heard something ridiculous. “They had that dynamic down,” notes Vaughan. “They knew what the dynamic was, and they just laid into it.”
The seasoned Marino was able to keep a straight face working off most of his comic co-stars – but not so with PATRICK WARBURTON, who plays Duncan’s manipulative boss, Phil. “Ken’s actually good at not breaking,” the director says. “The only time that happened was with Patrick.”
“He just kept making me laugh,” the actor admits. “He’d make some… weird, awesome choices,” such as when Phil appears to, uh… flirt, maybe, with Duncan, when trying to convince him to carry out the layoffs. Notes Vaughan, “He’s trying to create a smokescreen, by distracting Duncan with this effeminate come-on. But it’s just an act.” But an effective one, Marino adds. “He made me squirm.”
Directed by: Jacob Vaughan
Starring: Ken Marino, Peter Stormare, Gillian Jacobs, Stephen Root, Kumail Nanjiani
Screenplay by: Jacob Vaughan, Benjamin Hayes
Production Design by: Lindsey Moran
Cinematography by: James Laxton
Film Editing by: David Nordstrom
Costume Design by: Anthony Tran
Set Decoration by: Bobby Martin
Music by: Ted Masur
MPAA Rating: R for bloody comic horror violence, and for language and some sexual content.
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
Release Date: August 29, 2013