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Cooking Up Some Roadkill with Writer Rick Suvalle

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Rick Suvalle, RoadkillIn advance of April 23rd, 2011, debut of Syfy Original Film Roadkill, Dread Central had an opportunity to chat with screenwriter Rick Suvalle about his approach to this project and how he managed to make it slightly different than the average Syfy Original entry.

I can tell you from personal experience writing a Syfy Original Film is not easy. You know going in budgets are thin (transparent even), the special effects aren’t going to be very good, and casting is always a game of Russian roulette with four bullets in the cylinder. So, as a writer, you have to try and compensate for all of those hazards up front: use modest locations, limit special effects screen time, and include no complex dialogue or characters which require too much acting muscle. Yet, you still have to deliver the goods and tell a compelling, visually interesting story even though you don’t have the luxuries afforded even the most modestly budgeted theatrical release. As we know all too well, many fail in this endeavor.

But Suvalle manages to pull off all of the above with Roadkill. He finds creative solutions to the problems faced when penning one of these movies, and while his script definitely benefits from solid casting in the final product, as screenwriter William M. Akers says in his awesome book on screenwriting, Your Screenplay Sucks, if you haven’t written a quality script, you won’t attract quality talent.


DREAD CENTRAL: Roadkill (review here) revisits the well-used premise of a group of young people heading out for a weekend of fun and partying, only for it to go horribly wrong when they run afoul of backwoods locals. Knowing this, how did you approach it differently?

RICK SUVALLE: Roadkill has a certain action movie element to it. To me it’s kind of like a horror version of Speed where you’ve got this group of kids, trapped in a speeding RV, and they can’t stop or slow down or the Roc will get them. I felt like this was enough of a departure from your typical horror movie that I wasn’t afraid to use tried-and-true horror conventions like a group of kids heading out for a weekend of fun only for it to go horribly awry. In fact I purposely tried to sprinkle in various classic horror moments throughout.

The backwoods locals – in this case Irish gypsies – were a different story. I initially only had them in one scene that led to the kids getting cursed. But Syfy really loved the gypsies and wanted to see more of them, and I think they were absolutely right. The gypsies added a whole new level of terror to the story. And it didn’t hurt that they cast Irish native Ned Dennehy as the lead gypsy. He is one creepy villain in this movie.

Syfy Original Movie Roadkill

DC: Was the Roc always part of the premise? Or did that come later?

RS: The Roc actually came much later. The story was originally conceived with a demon-type creature on the roof of the RV that remains there for the entire movie, trapping the kids inside. You would only see glimpses of the creature until the very end. I saw this as a way to make the film on a micro budget. But when Syfy got involved, they wanted Roadkill to fit into their Saturday Original Movie line-up, and that meant having a really cool creature that you could actually see. We went through dozens of potential creatures. We even whipped open the Monster Manual from Dungeons & Dragons for inspiration and eventually realized that the perfect foil for kids in a speeding RV would be something that could actually keep up with them, like a mythical bird of prey. Once we locked in the Roc, I tweaked the mythology to make it work for the story.

DC: Most regular genre viewers will relate what happens to the protagonists to other movies like Pumpkinhead and Drag Me to Hell. How is your take different?

RS: In both of those films, as well as in Roadkill, the protagonists get cursed, resulting in a creature or supernatural force coming after them. But in Roadkill not only do you have the curse and the creature, but you’ve also got the gypsies coming after them, too, and the gypsies are almost more scary and menacing than the creature itself. What also differentiates Roadkill is our core concept, that it has an action movie element to it. Our heroes are always on the run, whereas in Drag Me to Hell Alison Lohman’s character is gradually stalked while she goes about her day-to-day life.

DC: In most of these films the order in which characters are killed off is usually predictable. What’s interesting in Roadkill is the way some characters come to the forefront, then kind of step back for other characters to emerge, which kind of shuffles the expected kill order. Was that hard to structure without losing focus on whose story this really was?

RS: This was actually my first venture into horror so after watching a bunch of these films as research, I did notice the predictability of the pecking order and thought it would not only be fun to change it up a little, but I thought it would also help keep the audience engaged and on their toes. Wondering for a change, “Who’s going to die next?” And surprisingly it wasn’t that difficult to achieve. I knew from the start exactly who I wanted to make it to the end, someone we wouldn’t expect. After that a new pecking order kind of emerged naturally.

As for keeping focused on whose story this really was, I purposely made several characters potential heroes so that whoever stepped up or whoever died next, we would root for them or be bummed out when they got a talon to the face.

Syfy Original Movie Roadkill

DC: Most Syfy Films tend to use a lot of humor. Roadkill is different in that it plays like a straightforward horror film. There’s not much levity. In fact, it gets downright dark in the third act. Was there a sense from the beginning that this film was going to be different in that regard? Or is that something that just sort of happened on its own during the writing process?

RS: In the early drafts of the film there was actually a LOT more humor, partially because I come from an action-comedy background, but I ultimately found that some of those jokes were undercutting the really scary moments in the film so I scaled it way back. But I have to give credit to the director, Johannes Roberts, for taking the darkness to the next level.

DC: This is your first foray into horror; any other genre projects on the horizon?

RS: Yes! I’ve been hired to write a new horror film that I’m really excited about. I can’t say more, but I’m trying to once again flip some of the genre’s conventions on their head.

Syfy Original Movie Roadkill

Our thanks to Rick Suvalle (official site here) for taking the time to speak with us. Check out the trailer for Roadkill below, and be sure to tune in this Saturday, April 23rd, on Syfy!

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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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