Playing as part of Screamfest L.A. is The Vang Brothers’ new film, Bedeviled (review), and we have a battery of interviews to bring you up-to-speed on the spooky! First up: Rob Hall!
Bedeviled premieres Saturday, October 22, 2016 – 10:00pm. Get your tickets here!
Dread Central: So how much make-up has been on the shoot? Is it mostly practical?
Rob Hall: In terms of make-up stuff, it’s one of the many things I do on set. It’s been a bit sporadic but it’s heavy enough for a show this size and I probably have been here almost every day being very hands-on. Which is a little bit new for me and I’m opening that up, because up until now it’s only films that I direct that I really had a hand in producing, a few other little ones, but mostly they’ve been vanity credits and this is not the case on this. I basically said, when it was offered to me, I said ‘yes if I could be of any use, I will do it’, and so luckily I have been of use. In terms of getting some of the cast and getting some of the creature performers and some of my resources, I’ve been able to pull into this, so I feel like I actually helped, which is nice.
DC: Well, I did hear a little bit about some of the spirits that come out to haunt Saxon Sharbino, who plays the lead, including one that’s her grandmother. How much were the directors [The Vang Bros.] involved in choosing the creature looks?
RH: What I like about the Vangs, and one of the reasons I said yes to this, because it came up very last minute, and though it was a low budget, they came to me and I guess they were fans of something I did, maybe… I think it was Chromeskull, and they were like ‘We probably can’t afford you and blah, blah, blah’ and I read the script and I said ‘Guys, for me it’s about material these days’ because I’m like a weird old actor or something who’s like ‘I’m going to respond to material.’ If I like the script then I like the people, and it was literally a case of: I liked the script and I liked how current it was and I really liked the Vang Brothers. Being a director myself I see that, even though they are still in their infancy in terms of their talent and scope of where they’re going to be, I can see that they’re heading in really great places. I like their vision and they know what’s important about being a director and the most important thing, which is being decisive and they are really good at being decisive.
DC: For two people, that’s saying something.
RH: Yeah, it’s true and it’s also a first time for me working with two directors. They do have right side and left side brain, and it works really well. And they’re very decisive; they never clash and their visions are always cohesive. To lead into the last part of that question, they wanted to bring me on because they wanted me to collaborate with them. However, they did come to the table with someone else to do art, probably years ago or certainly a long time ago, and so they had real clear visions of a lot of the characters. Like the clowns for instance, they had real clear visions of what they wanted them to look like and had concepts of their own. For some of the more real stuff they left it more up to me, so it’s the best case scenario where that’s concerned. They came with really strong vision but then when I said ‘Oh, we can do this’ which has worked really well, they were like ‘Oh yeah, that’s great, that’s exciting’ so I’m able to add my own flair and what I think would look cool because really for me, it’s about what impresses me or if I think it is cool. I get excited about it like I feel like I’ve done it a million times or I feel like the audience would probably like it too, and that’s sort of what they like.
DC: They said it’s really not a gory film, and it’s more about suspense, but how much are we seeing the actual scary things on screen? I.E., your makeups?
RH: I would say it’s reserved in the sense of reserved-by-design. They’re showing just enough and I think I’ve been there to nudge them into showing just a little bit more than they need to, so that they could pare it back. I know where they want to land, so I want to make sure that they get just enough.
DC: It’s always better to get a little more than you think you’re going to need.
RH: Exactly, so I know what they’re going for when they say ‘I barely want to see it’ so I’ve been there in that situation where I’ve not gotten just enough of it, so I’ve been there to help fix that mistake which I’ve made… to show a little more and then get the luxury of having to cut back. But it’s great because they do have a real good sense of narrative and pacing, how much to show so, in terms of the scary guys, particularly Mr Bedevil, we do see enough of him as we go along. You see him in all the right spots.
DC: Okay, so I’ve been hearing a lot about grandma, apparently she’s one of scariest manifestations of Mr Bedevil…. what does she look like?
RH: Well, Almost Human is doing the visual effects as well, which is awesome, so we’re able to know how much to do and also where we can cut in order not to over-build things. Also, the most important thing is to supplement and augment what we’re doing. So for instance, with that character we start basically with making Bonnie Morgan look like a realistic old woman because they were originally casting an old woman for that and I said ‘Oh, you know, when she goes crazy, berserk and goes mental it might be better to use someone younger’ and they’re like ‘Oh, maybe a stunt person’ and I said ‘I got one better: a stunt person/really good actor/contortionist.’ When I showed them what Bonnie could do, they flipped out and reworked that scene to accommodate her very special unique set of skills.
DC: You said that nowadays that luckily you have the luxury of picking and choosing and when you respond to a script, so what is it about this one? Because to me, like at first blush, it’s like another Unfriended. How do you differentiate this from other techno-phobe horror?
RH: I tried to watch that. I think that it wouldn’t fall into that category because it’s a lot more stylized than that in the sense of cinematography and their vision for it. It’s funny because I immediately hit it off with the Vangs because we had all the same favorite movies; the minute I started talking to them we had, like, all the same five favorite movies. Unfriended, I think it did well and from what I saw, and it was actually pretty good but when I think of Unfriended, I think of a gimmicky movie. What this has that that doesn’t have, is the very current idea without being gimmicky. It’s the idea of this simple app that someone sends the person who had someone who just died under mysterious circumstances, but that’s about as close as you get to an idea like Unfriended. And then it’s a very stylised, cool horror film after that, and so I like their vision, I liked how specific they were. They remind me of a pair of young me. I just really got on with them and it’s really hard not to, they’re friendly guys and really enthusiastic. When I meet someone with that kind of enthusiasm about what they’re doing, it’s so infectious and that permeates and sets the whole tone. Even though this is hard from every front that we’re doing, from not having as big of a budget as I want to do the kind of effects that we want, into the stuff that I want to do with post, and just wrangling stuff on the producer end, it’s still worthwhile at the end of the day as rough as the day gets. They’re so excited that they high five you at the end of the day. They feel like they’ve finally got their own signature film now that they want to put their stamp on, which is also cool and it’s nice to work with guys who are so young, but they do have their own style which is very rare for directors that I work with.
DC: Which entity do you think will be a fan fave when it is released?
RH: The guy who plays Mr Bedevil, Jordan Essoe. He’s… mark my words, that guy’s going to be very big. He’s very creepy and talented and awesome as Mr Bedevil and I think they’re creating their own… I really don’t want to use the word icon because it’s over used, but I think in their way they’re doing that inadvertently with this character. What Jordan’s doing with the performance, that’s really exciting to see come to life, you know, very organic because it is a unique concept that’s very current. I think what we’ve done on the end is also very creepy and right for the film and a little different from what we’ve done before. I think just the right amount of creep and what Jordan’s doing with the performance, it’s really creepy and fun. I think Mr Bedevil himself is going to be the stand-out but of course all the day players that we’ve had come in, are awesome. I mean yesterday we had the who’s who of my creature-mold library, which is Brett Wagner and Camden Toy and Angelina Armani, pretty much everyone I killed in Chromeskull, so it’s like we had all those guys and of course they all played creepy characters and then Bonnie doing her magic; it’s been exciting to me, bringing everybody in and getting to work with all my usual suspects but then in a different setting.
Directed by The Vang Brothers (Burlee and Abel Vang), Bedeviled stars Saxon Sharbino, Mitchell Edwards, Brandon Soo Hoo, Victory Van Tuyl, Carson Boatman, Alexis G. Zall, and Jordan Essoe.
Five teenagers receive an invite to download a Siri-like app. Once they accept this app, which calls itself Mister Bedevil, it begins to torment each of them by tapping into their worst fears. To stop this malevolent force, the teens must learn to trust and depend on each other’s wits and courage.