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After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk

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More After Dark Originals love with Husk director Brett Simmons, who was kind enough to talk us up about his wicked scarecrow flick. Having already shown his original short at Sundance, the director tells us about turning his corn-stalking scare-show into a feature film.

Chris Haberman: Where were you filming and how did the shoot go? Any fun set stories?

Brett Simmons: We shot in Ames, Iowa, outside of Des Moines. We shot for three weeks, 18 actual days. It was a lot of fun, but pretty intense because shooting in cornfields is challenging. There isn’t any space for anyone or anything to work because the stalks are so tall and thick. We had to get pretty creative with how we operated in there. Also, we had a ton of weather issues. A normally sunny, blue sky state was suddenly stormy and rainy for the three weeks we shot, so the already difficult cornfields were oftentimes pretty muddy and swampy…which was horrible.

Probably the best story to share for readers that’s the worst story for me is the day one of our hard drives failed. We shot on the RED, which was a great experience considering the environment and conditions. Using film and changing reels in a swampy, bug-infested cornfield doesn’t lend a lot of confidence. I’ve shot on the RED a bunch with no problems, but of course, the day after we shot the biggest, most involved sequence in the film…we showed up the next day to learn the storage drive failed and we lost everything from the day. Everything. Our actor lost his voice giving his all for the performance, stunt guys were bruised and had broken knuckles doing the stunts, the crew slaved tirelessly for hours, everyone gave their all…and we lost it. It was the worst feeling in the world. That was also nearly halfway through our 18 days, so the later half of the shoot was characterized by trying to figure out how to finish the movie AND re-shoot a scene that already took an entire day. Yeah, that was a fun series of emotions. But the good news is, we DID re-shoot it. It’s the version in the movie. And it came out much better than the first time. Rather than be bummed, we were instead inspired to view the first round as a dress-rehearsal so that we could knock the re-shoot out of the park. I really think we did. And we did it in half a day, thanks to knowing exactly what to do. So there’s fun set story to read that was a nightmare to live.

CH: What was the most fun and/or challenging aspect of adapting your own short film into a full-length feature film?

BS: The most fun was having the length and space of a feature to dive into things I could only graze upon in the short. The short film format is so limited (which is actually why I love it so much), but feature length opens up a lot of room. Truth is, I deliberately avoided certain creative territories in the short, hoping for the chance to instead explore them in a feature. Thankfully I got the chance, and it was a rewarding one. The hardest/most challenging part was achieving the objectivity to tell the story well. By the point I started writing the feature, I had already been on a two-, almost three-year journey with the short film. The short and I were close…but a little too close. My mind had adapted to the size and limitation of a thirty-minute horror movie; it became hard for me to stay as clearly open-minded about the feature as I probably would have been without the short.

It’s like the kid from the country moving to the big city. Where you’ve been makes it pretty hard to instantly comprehend where you’re going. You gotta live there a little while. Fortunately, I had enough time to work and re-work the feature to finally get the objective view I needed to make sure I was telling the story I wanted to tell.

CH: Did you take any inspiration from or take intentional departure from previous scarecrow-centric genre films?

BS: I would say more of an intentional departure, but seeing those movies is what inspired me to depart my own way. I’ve always appreciated the potential for scarecrows and cornfields. It’s a natural place to be drawn toward because scarecrows and cornfields are automatically so spooky and recognizable, your job is largely done when you get there. I think where I’ve been let down in the past was by story. In the past I’ve seen so much focus put into making sure that the scarecrows and cornfields are scary that ultimately neither are because I’m not interested or engaged enough in what’s happening. Scarecrows, for me, don’t need glowing eyes or sharp teeth to be scary. The burlap head alone already freaks me out. I’ve always been more drawn by the potential of what/who the scarecrows could be and why they’re doing what they’re doing. So when I wanted to make a horror movie, I decided to attempt what I had been missing.

CH: How were the FX handled? Practical, CGI, or a combo?

BS: 99.9% of the effects were handled practically. Only one effect wasn’t, and even that was just a separate practical effect superimposed on top of another practical effect…which probably means we were 100% practical, but I’ll let you be the judge. I prefer doing things practically as much as possible because I enjoy capturing everything in camera. I like knowing that everything I need has been shot. I’m open to CGI when it better serves production and/or the story, but with a low-budget horror movie, I felt there was no excuse and no need. Mike Regan and Blake Bolger did the FX. They were amazing. Mike and Blake came up with some amazing stuff. If you’ve seen the After Dark Originals teaser (or the Husk trailer), all the “nail through finger” stuff was them, and it’s awesome. I can’t take any credit other than giving them license to do what they do best. And they did.

Gary J. Tunnicliffe created the scarecrow masks, and he did a phenomenal job. The masks had to be my biggest worry going in because I knew if the scarecrow faces weren’t up to snuff, Husk could be facing some big trouble. A scarecrow movie about scarecrows better have cool looking scarecrows. Fortunately, Gary saved me by doing an amazing job and creating some faces that I think are both chilling and memorable. I love how the scarecrows look.

After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk

After Dark Originals: Brett Simmons Talks Husk


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Inside Remake Gets New Poster and U.S. Release Date

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It’s about time.

It has been a whopping four months since we shared with you guys the red band trailer for the upcoming English language remake of Inside starring Rachel Nichols and Laura Harring.

Today we have an all-new poster for the film (via our buddies at Arrow in the Head), and the one-sheet also boasts the remake’s U.S. release date. Yes, Inside will be hitting Stateside on January 12, 2018.

You can click on the poster to the right to check it out in higher-res. After that make sure to hit us up and let us know if you’re planning to check out this remake in the comments below!

Miguel Ángel Vivas directed the Inside remake.

Produced by Adrian Guerra and Nuria Valls at Spain’s Nostromo Pictures, the remake was written by Manu Diez and [REC] creator/co-director Jaume Balaguero. “We took the original idea and made it an edge-of-your-seat thriller, more Hitchcock-ian than a splatter-fest,” said Guerra.

Again, Inside hits U.S. theaters and VOD January 12, 2018.

Synopsis:
Pregnant and depressed, a young widow tries to rebuild her life following the fateful car accident where she lost her husband and partially lost her hearing. Now, about to go into labor, she’s living in a remote house in the suburbs when, one Christmas night, she receives an unexpected visit from another woman with a devastating objective: to rip the child she’s carrying from inside her. But a mother’s fury when it comes to protecting her child should never be underestimated.

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Deep Blue Sea 2 Rated R for Creature Violence/Gore and Language

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Five months ago we shared the news that there was a secret sequel to the 1999 killer sharks vs. Tom Jane and LL Cool J movie Deep Blue Sea filming, and today we have the sequel’s rating.

And it’s about what you’d expect. Not that that’s a bad thing.

Yes, the upcoming shark attack sequel Deep Blue Sea 2 has been rated R by the MPAA for “creature violence and gore and for language.”

Not only that, but we have a few words on what we can expect from the sequel via a creative executive over at Warner Bros. named Matt Bierman.

“We are a true sequel,” Bierman said regarding the sequel. “We wanted to keep to the spirit of Deep Blue Sea and why people love it. The research that was used on the sharks in Deep Blue Sea 2 comes from the mythology and storyline of the first movie. We have given the lead shark a personality and hope the fans will embrace that as it really helps the storytelling and the narrative in a way that [the] first one didn’t. Deep Blue Sea 2 has a slightly slower build, but once the rubber band snaps, things go boom really quickly!”

The lead shark has a personality? How could that be a bad thing?

Let’s just hope there aren’t scenes of the rugged Tom Jane stand-in lovingly hugging/stroking the shark after it does something cool and telling the new guy how the shark (nicknamed Bruce) is just “misunderstood.”

…And then the shark saves everyone at the end. Called it.

The sequel is directed by Darin Scott from a screenplay by Erik Patterson, Hans Rodionoff, and Jessica Scott and stars Danielle Savre, Rob Mayes, and Michael Beach.

The movie is set to premiere on Syfy sometime next year. Once we know the exact date we’ll let us know so stay tuned!

“Deepest. Bluest. My head is like a shark’s fin…”

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Friends Don’t Let Friends Review – A Haunting Mixture of Psychological Turmoil and Brutal Supernatural Horror

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Starring Brittany Anne Woodford, Jenny Curtis, Kanin Guntzelman, Brendan McGowan, Jake White

Directed by James S. Brown

We all like to think of ourselves as being surrounded by friends, but let’s face it, if we were to ever truly hit hard times, there are probably very few, if any, people we could truly rely on. So on some level, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film we can all relate too, as it deals with this very issue.

Stephanie is an emotionally unstable young woman who strangles her boyfriend to death after he insults and breaks up with her. She calls her friends to help her dispose the body out in the Joshua Tree National Part area, and instead of reporting her to the police, they reluctantly comply. As their car breaks down, the four friends find themselves alone at night in the Californian wilderness with the rotting corpse in need of disposal. Given their dire circumstances, they begin to become more and more aggressive towards each other, and this was where the film was really at its best. I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how far the limits of their friendship could be stretched, and who would be the first to crack and turn on the others.

Anyway, their body disposal endeavor soon proves to be a mistake, as Stephanie’s ex rises from the grave as vengeful zombie demon thing with claws as long as knives. I’ll admit, I first I thought Friends Don’t Let Friends was going to be a movie purely about the limits of trust, so I was pretty surprised when the supernatural elements came into play. And when they did, the trust and friendship elements of the plot were somewhat downplayed in favor of a more traditional horror approach, and while it was still entertaining, I still would have preferred for the film not to have strayed from its initial path. At least the ending came as a shocker. I won’t go into spoilers, but let’s just say the even the most attentive viewers probably won’t see it coming.

As you can probably guess from a psychologically-driven film of this kind, the performances were top notch, with Brittany Anne Woodford being on particularly top form as the manipulative and unstable Stephanie, a character who revels in the revels in the power she felt when ending another human life.

With its mixture of psychological turmoil and brutal supernatural horror, Friends Don’t Let Friends is a film I would certainly recommend, but keep in mind that it may make you think twice when confiding in people who you think of as being your friends.

8 out of 10.

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