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Soto, John V. (Needle)

Los Angeles’ much-celebrated film festival Screamfest LA is now up and running October 8-17 at the Mann’s 6 in Hollywood, CA, and we thought it appropriate to catch up with yet another of the filmmakers whose genre entries will be playing at Rachel Belofsky’s tenth annual cutting compendium of all things horrific.

ScreamfestVisit Screamfest online here for a full run-down of the films playing, as well as to purchase tickets. The highly anticipated Gierasch/Anderson Night of the Demons remake kicks off the fest TONIGHT.

With co-writer (with Anthony Egan) and director John V. Soto’s feature flick Needle celebrating its Los Angeles premiere at Screamfest this coming Saturday, October 9, at 7:30pm (tickets can be purchased here), filmmaker Soto sat down with Dread recently to discuss his film (which opens in April in Australia, with other territories soon to be announced). See a teaser trailer for Needle below.

Produced by Deidre Kitcher and starring Travis Fimmel, Trilby Glover, Tahyna Tozzi and Khan Chittenden, Needle follows the plight of Ben Rutherford (Fimmel), a young college student who inherits a small antique machine known as “La Vaudou Mort” from his late father’s estate. Unfortunately for Rutherford, the puzzle-like device’s roots lay in the occult, in that it was engineered as a tool for revenge, and a body count isn’t far behind.

As for Needle, Soto’s solo-directorial debut (the Aussie filmmaker previously co-directed the Australian teen Fatal Attraction-esque flick Crush with Jeff Gerritsen), the self-professed fan of horror (he cites Romero, Argento, Carpenter and Hitchcock as his influences) told us, “I’m also a fan of murder-mystery type films and love the puzzle element that seems to engage the audience more than say the average slasher (film).

Dread asked the filmmaker whether or not Clive Barker’s Lament Configuration (the hellish Rubik’s Cube at the center of Hellraiser) played any part in his inspiration for Needle’s ‘La Vadou Mort,’ and Soto stated, “Hellraiser is a classic horror film and ‘yes’, the Needle machine does pay homage. Needle also pays homage to various films and horror genres – in particular murder-mystery-slashers like Urban Legend, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Black Christmas and to a certain extent Final Destination.

Our film is set at a college, and the machine falls into the hands of a particularly nasty person,” continued Soto of the antagonist at the center of his horror-hybrid, “who wants revenge for something that occurred ten years prior. We’ve layered the film with six distinct clues to the killer’s identity, and it’s up to the audience to work out which of the ten suspects is the killer. People should have it figured out before the reveal, but many get it wrong because they’ve relied on our intentionally misleading trailer.

Excl: Filmmaker Talks the Screamfest Premiere of Needle

While Soto isn’t resting on his laurels with Needle (the filmmaker’s got a number of projects in various forms of development – one by the title of Last Road), he’s excited about the Screamfest premiere of Needle.

The Screamfest people have selected a great bunch of films that will make any horror movie fan very happy,” enthused Soto, “and I’m keen to watch as many as I can. I love that Screamfest supports the horror genre, in particular the writers, directors and actors; and I implore people to get off their lazy butts and come down to Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood to watch these cool films. You can go to a multiplex playing remakes and sequels and boring romantic comedies any time of the year, but if you want a dose of some truly unique, original and engaging scary films, come down to Screamfest!

Sean Decker

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Sean Decker