Fresh into the international premiere of her horror-comedy film Hail Satan! at Fantastic Planet Film Festival in Sydney, Australia, actress-producer Denesa Chan has announced that her next project will pair her with author-turned-director Craig Spector for the feature Dead Lines.
Adapted by Spector from his bestselling novel of the same name, Dead Lines is (according to the PR), “a ghost story of seduction and psycho-sexual manipulation between two young women and the man who killed himself in their NYC loft before they moved in — and whose soul has become trapped in the subatomic DNA of the place. It’s a sensually charged and viscerally disturbing portrait of a toxic love triangle between the living and the dead. Meryl thought she had found the perfect fantasy, and he wants inside of her completely. But what if her dream come true is a hellish nightmare that refuses to leave?”
“I had already been working on another Spector project, and I was instantly gripped by the writing,” Chan told us yesterday from Australia. “Every color, every sensation, thought and experience was turned up to a deliciously intense 11 out of 10, and Dead Lines was particularly captivating. I was drawn to the part of ‘Meryl’: an intense loner, guarded and fierce, longing to connect, to be seen, heard and felt. She’s a hopelessly romantic child in a woman’s body who finally opens up to an equally passionate man, only to discover that he is twisted and feral. Meryl is an actor’s wet dream, or wet nightmare, come true.”
The Dead Lines script was written by Craig Spector (A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child and Animals) and Philip Nutman, co-writer of the Jack Ketchum adaptation of The Girl Next Door, and is based off the novel by John Skipp and Craig Spector. It’s Spector’s directorial debut. Dead Lines will be the first co-production between Chan’s Fierce Pixie Films and Spector’s Serendipity Creative, with veteran scribe Nutman.
“I’ve never really planned on directing, but I have a clear vision for this film, and given some of my previous film experiences, I feel like it’s time for me to step up,” Spector explained from Los Angeles. “I’m very excited and a little nervous, but I have a great team working with me so I’m psyched!”
“We are thrilled to have a solid core team and are currently considering other key players, including DP, FX and casting,” said Chan. “We’re shooting the trailer summer 2012 for a 2013 production. Production is slated for a 21-day shoot in New York and Los Angeles.”
“We’re opting to shoot on 35mm in order to achieve a 21st century ‘Nuevo Retro’ old school vibe,” Spector said of the intended look of Dead Lines. “Think young Scorsese grittiness meets the flesh-crawling creepiness of early Cronenberg. Dead Lines will be an inexorably intimate descent into surrender and submission, control and carnality, dominance and destruction, and one woman’s nightmare fight for her freedom and survival.”
Dead Lines is currently fundraising for a budget under a million dollars and planning on a 2014 theatrical, DVD and VOD release.
Given his prolific literary accomplishments and vast source material, we asked Spector, “Why Dead Lines?”
“It’s perhaps my most intimate and character-driven story to date,” Spector answered. “It’s very scary, very creepy, very ‘in the skin’ of the characters, and thus perfect for an indie horror movie. It’s also a very women-driven story, which I think is important in the evolution of the genre: we need more kick-ass roles for women. Jack is a bastard and a user, and he’s after both Meryl and Katie, but it’s really Meryl’s movie. He seduces her through her dreams, he needs her to literally let him in, and she has no idea what’s in store for her if and when she does. Her journey is our journey through the story.”
Of this, Spector is confident is his choice of Chan for the film’s lead and as co-producer.
“The character of Meryl is a very strong-willed, smart and emotionally armored young woman who comes to New York City to make it on her own,” said Spector. “She mourns the childhood loss of her mother and wants to escape her overbearing and controlling father, and she’s very much a loner. She finds a friend in Katie, another young woman who came to the big city to find something and escape something. And when Meryl discovers the mysterious secret of Jack — the brooding, fatally romantic writer who lived and died in the apartment and left his unpublished manuscript hidden in a crawlspace — his dark vision stirs something in her. She starts fantasizing about him, dreaming about him. What Meryl doesn’t know is that Jack’s soul is trapped there… and the energy of her fantasies is bringing him back.”
“I first met Denesa on another project, and I had this instant feeling that she was perfect to play Meryl,” Spector concluded. “When I approached her with the role and we started talking, it instantly confirmed that she was born to play this part. Her grasp of the material and insights into its layers are dead-on; I feel like I wrote it for her. Plus, seeing what she accomplished as the producer of Hail Satan! made me want to work with her even more.”
Chan is equally enthusiastic.
“I’m honored to be working with Craig on his directorial debut,” she said. “He is uniquely suited to direct this film because he knows the story and characters inside and out. I’ve worked with many directors and have never met one who got so deeply inside the soul of the characters. Craig transcends the flat page and screen and brings entire worlds to life with tantalizing detail. He also has a background in the visual arts, which is instantly recognizable in his writing. His novels read more like films than books.”
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