#SDCC16: Van Helsing Cast Paints a Bloody Picture of the Vampire Apocalypse - Dread Central
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#SDCC16: Van Helsing Cast Paints a Bloody Picture of the Vampire Apocalypse

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I can’t help but love Syfy. While everyone is busy trying to make the next “Breaking Bad,” they are content with amnesiac space operas and magical demon-slaying gunslingers. There’s something endearing about their persistent commitment to quality schlock. They know what they make, and they do a damn good job of it.

So here comes “Van Helsing,” a show that just screams Syfy. Taking place in a world ravaged by the vampire apocalypse, Vanessa Helsing wakes up from a coma to find that she is one of the last remaining humans. She has no idea how she got where she is, and her daughter is missing. She soon finds that her blood is toxic to vampires, and with a bite she can turn vampires back into humans. Take that, expectations! So she and her band of hardened survivors set off on a quest to save the world and find Vanessa’s daughter.

Tis a silly premise, but one that they hope to inject some seriousness into with compelling characters and darker themes. The vampires aren’t sleek and sexy brooding Twilight teenagers, depicting vampirism as a virus rather than something magic. They want to make vampires exist in the world, not make a world for vampires to exist in. So think less Blade and more The Omega Man.

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“Van Helsing” made an appearance at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, so I got the chance to sit with stars Kelly Overton (Vanessa Helsing), Jonathan Scarfe (Axel), and Christopher Heyerdahl (Sam), along with executive producers Chad Oakes, Mike Frislev, and Simon Barry. I wanted to know more about the world they are creating and what they hope to accomplish with the show. First up was Kelly, who is somehow even lovelier in person. Here’s what she said drew her to the role:

Kelly: I’m lucky that there seems to be a trend with me that I get to play kickass female characters. I’m from an athletic background, sports were my first love before acting, so getting to be physical is great. It’s fun to be a badass! And honestly, I love all the fake blood. I have a lot of fun working in horror because there’s so much action and intensity to it. On set, it’s like shooting a comedy, because of all the absurd things you have to do and buy into to make it believable. People are going to love watching it for the same reasons I had so much fun making it.

She continued with how she prepared for the role:

Kelly: I know that there are a lot of female role models out there, but as an actor I tried not to think about it. I have to just focus at being good at the role. For that, I pulled from times in my own life where I had to be strong and did my best to honestly bring that to life. As far as my inspiration, I’d say mostly Ripley. But there are so many awesome female roles out there now that you could really pull from anywhere.

Kelly Overton

Executive producer Simon Barry had more to say on the show’s action and tone:

Simon: It’s not really a fun show in the typical Syfy Sharknado sense. We worked hard to ground it in the real world. Still, even in that, you can have a different kind of fun. Think about Aliens. There’s real danger and threat, and in the middle of it all Bill Paxton is saying these great lines. It’s fun but also makes the world more compelling than everyone just being steel-faced and somber. We wanted to bring a spectrum of emotions and characters, throw them into real dangerous situations, and have them react their own way.

Mike Frislev had more to say on this danger:

Mike: When we did “Hell on Wheels,” there was a sign that said “Population: one less every day.” We wanted to bring that kind of intensity and danger to “Van Helsing.” No one is safe in this world. Fans are going to meet characters and say, “You can’t possibly kill them!” And they’ll be wrong. But it’s that constant sense of danger that makes the show more compelling than others like it.

Chad Oakes had more to say on why he felt people would find the show compelling:

Chad: The danger would be meaningless if we didn’t have characters you were rooting for. Pulling from our connections on shows like “Hell on Wheels,” we got together a great cast and wrote the characters in a clever puzzle. Unpacking those characters is what’s going to take you to the end.

Van Helsing Cast

From Left to Right: Simon Barry, Kelly Overton, Jonathan Sarfe, Chad Oakes, Christopher Heyerdahl, Simon Barry, Holly Hines

Speaking of cast, Jonathan Scarfe had similar sentiments:

Jonathan: I was drawn to the project because of Neil LaBute initially. From their network, they pulled together this great cast with names like David Cubitt and Chris [Heyerdahl], and I just had to be a part of it. It’s just so much talent in one project. I just knew the characters would turn out unforgettable. There’s a lot you can do with vampires, but really they are just the world. In shows like “The Walking Dead,” it’s not about the zombies. It’s about the people in that world. That idea was integral to “Van Helsing.”

As an example of one of those great characters, Christopher Heyerdahl talked about how he approached his role as Sam, who is deaf:

Chris: I approached the role with the respect it deserves. The language of the deaf and hearing impaired is unique and beautiful, and I wanted to do my best to reflect that. Now obviously, I can’t learn the language in just four months, so it’s a work in progress, but one I’m very dedicated to. I didn’t want to just do the lines on the script, so I learned what I needed to be able to banter with Mohamad, the only other character that can understand him. I’m not sure always when I was on camera, so I don’t know exactly what got through. It’s going to be fun for people who are deaf or hearing impaired, since I’m often talking about things that I probably shouldn’t be. It’s a special extra layer just for people who can understand.

Christopher Heyerdahl

Now, I wish I could talk about “Van Helsing” without having to address the bitter, obnoxious, troll-ephant in the room. I would really like to just discuss if a vampire apocalypse show can make it in an industry inundated by zombies or how we might be able to bring vampires back in a post-Twilight world. But no, this is the internet, so of course this will all be under the looming shadow of Van Helsing now being a girl. Never mind that Buffy was kicking vampire ass way before Ghostbusters made everyone lose their collective minds. Getting mad that girls are taking over television isn’t a perspective I particularly respect, so I won’t go too much into the arguments. So I’ll just leave you with what Chad Oakes said about it:

Chad: We’re not trying to reproduce an old story and make it about a woman. We’ve gotten completely out of the Transylvania, pitchfork and torch kind of Van Helsing story. We really only use the lineage as mythos. We’re not replacing anyone or anything. “Van Helsing” is just a name, it is a person, and “person” by default doesn’t mean a man. Her being a woman contributes to the story in a meaningful way through the loss of her daughter. For this world, she was always meant to be a woman. Getting mad because she isn’t the classic male character is missing the point.

And lo, no one was ever a dick on the internet about female characters again. I can dream, can’t I?

So, how about you guys? Interested in “Van Helsing?” Let me know below, and stay tuned for more SDCC 2016 coverage!

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter

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The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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The Strangers: Prey at Night Official Site is Live and Waiting

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It was just last week that we shared the all-new trailer and poster for the upcoming sequel to writer-director Bryan Bertino’s home-invasion thriller The Strangers.

If that trailer for The Strangers: Prey at Night wasn’t interactive enough for you then you’re in luck – the film’s official site has just gone live.

The site starts off playing the film’s trailer but you can click that shite off asap and get to the other goodies.

From there the site tells you that “They’re only Strangers until you tell them your name” and then asks you for your name, your email address, and your phone number.

Yeah. Right.

That’s how they get you.

Truthfully, I’m not brave enough to put my info on the site. Not that I’m scared of, you know, a knock at the door late at night or anything… Just… I don’t feel like it is all.

If you are brave enough to give the site your info, make sure to hit us up and let us know how it goes in the comments below or on social media! If you can… Moo-haha.

Visit the site HERE.

The Stranger: Prey at Night is directed by Johannes Roberts (47 Meters Down) from a script by Bryan Bertino and Ben Ketai. It stars Martin Henderson, Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, and Lewis Pullman.

The film hits March 9, 2018.

Synopsis:
A family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Johannes Roberts directs this horror film inspired by the 2008 smash hit THE STRANGERS.

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Exclusive: Patrick Brice on Creep 2

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Patrick Brice blipped onto our radar a couple of years back with his audacious horror film debut, Creep. He directed the film, plus he cowrote and co-starred in it with Mark Duplass (interview) (Baghead, Manson Family Vacation). Creep introduced Aaron, an affable serial killer who lures people to his remote cabin by placing ads promising a fun filmmaking experience… while you could see where the story was going in terms of plot, what made it so striking was the way in which it was written and directed. There’s a massive amount of dread throughout.

Brice is back for Creep 2 (review), and we caught up with him to ask about it.

Dread Central: It must have been hard to try to top Creep. Or did you already have a sequel in mind?

Patrick Brice: It’s funny, but when we made the first movie, we had no idea we would eventually be making a sequel. So we didn’t necessarily set ourselves up for an easy road that way. It ended up being something we had to reverse engineer a bit. And we had actually came up with maybe three or four other ideas for Creep 2 before we landed on the one that we ended up shooting. Including a feature length screenplay that I had written but I shelved because it didn’t feel right. And so, it was a combination of things in that we didn’t want to make a sequel until we knew there was an audience for it. Once we realized the first Creep had caught on in the way it did, that was when the idea of making one did started to come up a little bit. Then it wasn’t until we landed on the idea we landed on, sort of the approach we ended up taking, that things started to feel right and it started to make sense with going forward to making one.

DC: Is you audience mainly horror fans? Because it seems serial killer stories are mainstream now, what with “Hannibal” having been on network TV and now we have “Mindhunter” on Netflix.

PB: I’d say a lot of horror fans, and, I think people with masochistic tendencies as well. I think it’s a pretty dark endeavour for an audience to be brought into with that movie. I think because of the sort of minimalist approach, when you’re watching it, especially when you’re watching it alone, it demands a different kind of attention than a normal movie. Because the Creep is only two characters, if you’re an audience member, you essentially become the third character in the movie, bearing witness to it. So I’m grateful that people are willing to engage with this type of material in that way. I’m also just surprised by it because I think it’s a challenging film on some level. I think it’s a rewarding film. And I think if you’re willing to give in to the conceit of it and willing to take the ride, it is a rewarding experience, but I also completely understand anyone who’s not willing to do that, just because it is such a specific thing. And so going into a sequel, there was a certain amount of confidence that we had associated with a lot of the decisions we were making that would have felt strange and odd with the traditional movie being make in a traditional way, but because we were doing it this way and kind of replicating at least the production style of how we made the first one, we were willing to take that leap a little bit more than we would normally do.

DC: Would you consider dropping the found footage format if you do another Creep movie?

BP: Completely. I think that down the road that would be a nice surprise and a nice way to inject sort of a new form into the story telling. One of the things that’s been fun with Creep 2 and thinking about other Creep movies is giving in to that sort of style completely and letting that be something that informs the character. A huge thing with cracking the second movie was creating the character of Sara that Desiree Akhavan (interview) plays and giving her her own specific needs and motivations for being there, which then hopefully justifies the camera being on. That is the big challenge with found footage movies. It’s something that Jason Blum says that all the time, ‘don’t make a found footage movie unless the story dictates it.’ And so we knew we wanted to do it this way and so it was really delving into character and sort of the more emotional side of things to justify that.

DC: One of the intriguing things about Aaron is that he has no backstory. But it seems eventually audiences demand origin stories and prequels. Will you reveal how Aaron got started someday?

PB: It’s something that’s emerging, having made the second one. We have him tell two long monologues. And it’s detailed, it’s very specific, it makes sense as far as the character goes, but there is still this layer of knowing that this guy is a pathological liar and none of this could be true. And so the hope with that was to have this be a story that convinces Sara, the other character in the film, that it’s true but the audience once again, existing on this other level where they know what this guy’s capable of, they also know he’s a total liar and it may or may not be real.

DC: Do you see yourself ramping up the horror if there are more Creep sequels?

PB: I still think there’s a lot of places to go in terms of the horror aspect of it. I think we only scratched the surface with the second one. I think it made sense we sort of upped the blood and gore with the second movie but also, like you said, kept things pretty much in the space of just uncomfortable tension for eighty minutes. I think that’s something that always going to be our ultimate goal with these movies and that’s sort of the trademark of these movies. What’s nice about knowing that there’s other places things can go whether it be, further into the slasher genre, further into the supernatural, we’ve got some options and we’ve left a lot of doors open in terms of having other avenues to explore.

DC: Any horror stories on the horizon apart from Creep 2?

PB: Yes, actually. I’m going to be directing a few episodes of “Room 104” on HBO and at least two of them are horror based. I’m really excited about that, because I get a chance to delve into more pure classical horror than I’ve been able to do with Creep movies.

Written by Patrick Brice and Mark Duplass with Brice directing, Creep 2 stars Duplass, who reprises his role from the first film, and Desiree Akhavan.

Synopsis:
CREEP 2 stars Desiree Akhavan as Sara, a video artist whose primary focus is creating intimacy with lonely men. After finding an ad online for “video work,” she thinks she may have found the subject of her dreams. She drives to a remote house in the forest and meets a man claiming to be a serial killer (Mark Duplass). Unable to resist the chance to create a truly shocking piece of art, she agrees to spend the day with him. However, as the day goes on, she discovers she may have dug herself into a hole she can’t escape.

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