Marshall, Neil (The Descent) - Dread Central
Connect with us

News

Marshall, Neil (The Descent)

Published

on

Neil MarshallI’ve seen The Descent four times now in various settings, from being by myself to being in a room full of people, and it still never fails to creep me out. That’s no easy task for any horror film considering how many of them I’ve seen and how used to watching them I am, but Neil Marshall managed to pull it off with is second feature. It’s a beautiful thing.

Our foreign correspondent Axelle recently got the chance to sit down with Marshall and have a one-on-one about his fantastic film, and the results should be enough to get you slavering to see this even more. As you know, Lionsgate will be releasing the film theatrically this summer, but there’s a Region 2 disc already out in the UK that is more than worth getting.

Enjoy the interview and if you haven’t seen it yet beware off SPOILERS! (don’t worry, they’re well marked -Johnny)


Axelle Carolyn: The Descent is your second horror film, yet you don’t want to be known as a horror director…

Neil Marshall: I don’t want to be just a horror director; I love doing horror films but I don’t want to be pigeonholed. I’ve done two horror films back-to-back now, very different to my mind anyway: one, Dog Soldiers, is a sort of black comedy horror film. The Descent is a darker film. Now I want to go and do something totally different; I’m directing a science fiction film next and exploring some other genres, other stories and characters and then come back to doing horror films! I love horror films and I think secretly I love scaring the audience.

AC: Where did the idea of The Descent come from?

NM: I’d read articles and books and seen documentaries about caving. I’d never gone caving myself but it sounded pretty scary so I thought I’d come up with a story set in a cave. It was ideal for a horror film to utilize an environment that is about darkness and shadows.

I remember when I was ten or eleven years old I went on a school trip and we went in a mine. We all gathered together and the guide said, “I want you to turn all your torches off”, and for the first time in my life I experienced pitch black. It’s not like when you’re at home and the lights are off, when you have streetlight coming in or the stars or whatever; it’s pitch black. You can move your hand in front of your face and you can’t see anything. It made me cling to my torch; out in the world it is just a torch but in there it’s your whole life.

As part of research for the film I did go caving and yea, it’s intense, I thoroughly enjoyed it but I don’t think I’d like to do it again… So I was really interested in that idea, and it’s a friend of mine who said, why not make them all women? I thought, that’s inspired, that’s genius, why not?

The DescentAC: Well, maybe because it makes it more difficult for you to write it…

NM: It was certainly more of a challenge for me as a writer, but it’s a contemporary idea and more importantly for me, the story was is no way dependent on the fact that they were women, they just are and you accept that. And nobody ever made an all female ensemble in a horror film.

AC: Going back to the idea of the cave, it is a perfect setting for a horror movie, but at the same time it sounds quite impossible to film…

NM: Totally. And for that reason we made the decision very early on that we wouldn’t be filming in a real cave. The main reason, obviously, was how dangerous and impractical it would be coming into the cave with the material; it’s just far too risky. But also we had very specific action within the script and we had to find a real cave that fit the bill. Finding all of that in one cave would have been impossible, and finding it in a bunch of caves was an unrealistic possibility.

So we built everything, there isn’t a single real cave in the film, everything’s faked. There’s a matte painting, miniatures, and 98% of it are sets we built in Pinewood. Our production designer and my director of photography both did a fantastic job of making these caves look incredibly real. We used the same set, a sort of corridor thing, something like twelve times! We just made it look different every time. Also, we only used the light sources that the girls carry down into the darkness with them. There should be no extraneous sources of light because that’s cheating, that’s how it is in the dark.

The DescentAC: I guess you used all sorts of reflective boards to use the light to its maximum?

NM: Yes, reflective boards hidden in different places. We used every trick in the book. It was kind of fun trying to solve all these problems. And since the actresses were using their own lights, the lighting was never the same twice, which also helped us make the sets look different.

AC: What kind of budget did you have?

NM: It was 3.5 million pounds… like 6 or 7 million dollars. The TV company who made “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?” made a fortune. Paul Smith, the guy who runs it, wanted to get into filmmaking and a couple of years ago he created Salvador Films; their first production was Dirty Pretty Things and The Descent was their second film. They were the sole source of financing; it’s a really unique thing in the UK because I only had the producer and the executive producer to deal with, it was ideal.

AC: How did you cast the actresses?

NM: Some were easy, like Holly; but for Sarah, we looked at so many people for that part. Shauna came back again and again and again. Every time we had an audition we’d bring Shauna back. We were doing all sorts of things, we were lining chairs in a row, because one of the scenes we auditioned with was the bit where she gets stuck in the tunnel and collapses, and you can’t do that just sitting in a room. So we had them crawl underneath the chairs and I filmed them with a camcorder. It really helped with the whole audition process.

AC: Did you also make them audition together?

NM: If we passed somebody, we’d ask her to come back in and play with the others. I wanted everybody to be visually and physically different. I wanted them to sound different because they would be filmed in the dark; I wanted them to be very accomplished actors; that was the most important thing. They had to be physically capable of what we were gonna put them through; everybody was warned very early on that it was gonna be an incredibly difficult shoot and they all said yes. They were great, they were true to their word, none of them complained that we made them suffer. They all went to climbing training, rafting training, caving training before the shoot, and the shoot itself was physical. The guys in Dog Soldiers, it was a walk in the park for them; they just had to sit in the house. These girls had to lie in freezing cold water all day… They all had cuts and bruises by the end of the shoot.

The DescentAC: Did any of them know anything about caving before?

NM: No. Shauna [MacDonald] had gone climbing before, but she’d never gone caving and we discovered that she was really claustrophobic. But that helped her play the character.

AC: Why did you decide to shoot the film in sequence?

NM: It was the only way we could do it. They never revisit the same cave twice and we only had a certain amount of sets, so what we had to do was use the set then pull it apart and rebuild something else. That’s the way we had to do it; the characters make a physical and mental journey through the cave, and it’s better for them to film it in story order and it’s better for us. The only thing that we didn’t shoot in sequence was the bit of the film where she comes back out of the ground.

AC: But you did start with the rafting sequence? It looks like one of the most difficult scenes to shoot though…

NM: Yes, it was the first day of shooting and the most difficult part for me. We were filming in Scotland in December when it gets light at 10 am and dark at 4pm, we had six hours to do the entire sequence! Luckily we had five cameras to cover it and the girls were so adapted to rafting the stunt guys said they could go on their own, they would be fine.

AC: The opening sequence is a great introduction to the characters and to the atmosphere of the movie. Where did the idea come from?

NM: It was two things. First it was an homage to Deliverance, which is one of my favorite films of all time and a huge inspiration for this film. Also, just to show that these girls are strong and independent, they like to do adventurous sports. Someone suggested skydiving at first but I thought it was a bit too nice, with blue skies… I wanted something a bit messier and I thought rafting would be good for that.

The DescentAC: How did you design the creatures?

NM: I did some ideas on my computer, initial concepts, but then when we got the actors and the designers came in we came up with different ideas and it evolved from one thing to the other. I always wanted them to be as human as possible and to have evolved in that environment logically; their eyes are blind and have gone bigger, they use their senses in a different kind of way to us, but they are essentially human. It was a lot of fun designing that one.

AC: There have been rumors about another ending for the US version…

**SPOILERS**
NM: Yes, the American distributor decided to change it. There won’t be anything new; the only difference is that when she climbs out of the cave and she gets in the car and she drives along, it cuts back to her being in the cave: that’s what they’ve cut. So she’s in the car, Juno sits next to her and she screams and that’s it. All it really does is it suggests that she does make it out of the cave. She’s still bad, but she’s out. They tested both endings and it played a lot better without the last bit. For whatever reason they preferred the idea that she made it out of the cave. Fair enough, she’s killed all her friends but she’s out of the cave, so it’s ok! (Laughs.) My original ending has been seen in the UK, has been seen worldwide, everybody else is going to get to see that, but well. It’s a totally different mindset; I can’t get my head around it, but whatever. They’re going to get to see the complete ending on DVD anyway.
**END SPOILERS**

AC: What are you working on now?

NM: I’m doing a project called Doomsday. It’s a break from horror; but it’s still gonna be pretty dark, full of action and violence, but it’s more of a tribute to films like Mad Max and Escape From New York. I’m not just a horror fan, I love all sorts of films and I’ve always wanted to make a sort of science fiction, post-apocalyptic adventure. It’s all set in the UK and we should be shooting that this summer. I’m going to try to get the same team from The Descent back.

AC: So you have no intention to leave the UK?

NM: No, I have no interest in doing anything in L.A. I don’t want to be making films with happy endings!


Big thanks to Axelle for allowing us access to the interview and of course to Neil for making it happen in the first place! Lionsgate has big plans for The Descent this August, likely giving it a huge promotional push, and I hope that you’ll head out and see if when it’s here, you won’t be sorry. Keep it here for more on the film!

Discuss The Descent in our forums!

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading
Comments

News

Freddy’s Greatest Hits Vinyl Re-issue Is a Must-Own

Published

on

Strange Disc Records has just announced that it will be releasing “Freddy’s Greatest Hits – The Elm Street Group” on vinyl starting this Wednesday with pre-orders expected to ship in January 2018.

Not only that but Mondo announced they will be releasing an exclusive variant pressed on “Freddy Sweater” striped vinyl. This LP from Mondo is limited to 400 and will cost you $25.

For those who might not know, “Freddy’s Greatest Hits” was originally released in 1987. The record contains nine tracks (covers, originals, and instrumentals) with Robert Englund doing the voice of Freddy over the top.

I don’t know about you but this has just made my list of must-own items. But I’d prefer an original copy. That said an original copy is probably hundreds of buck on eBay as opposed to this version for a mere $25 bucks. Not bad.

You can check out the full track listing and a sample song below. Then make sure to hit us up and let us know if you’ll be snagging a copy in the comments below!

Track Listing

1. “Do The Freddy”
Freddy and the Dreamers cover, as well as a parody.
The lyrics were changed to fit Freddy Krueger persona and elements

2. “Obsession”
original song

3. “Wooly Bully”
Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs cover.
Freddy (Robert Englund) provides the opening lyrics.

4. “Don’t Sleep”
original song

5. “In The Midnight Hour”
Wilson Pickett cover

6. “All I Have To Do Is Dream”
Everly Brothers cover

7. “Dance or Else”
original song

8. “Down in the Broiler Room”
original song

9. “Elm Street Dreams”
original song

Pre-orders begin Wednesday, November 22.

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

News

That is One Gigantic Steampunk Squid…

Published

on

Perhaps one of the greatest sci-fi adventures novels ever written, Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea was a landmark book, one that was decades ahead of its time. The story follows the crew of the Nautilus, a submarine commanded by Captain Nemo, as they venture in search of a giant sea monster. It was the basis for several film adaptations and the character of Captain Nemo played a pivotal role in the graphic novel series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

So why am I bringing this up, you ask? Because Tor Books is releasing Nemo Rising, a sequel this Christmas! Written by C. Courtney Joyner, the story once again follows Nemo, although this book sees him a prisoner that must be pardoned by President Ulysses S. Grant in order to face an onslaught of more sea monsters.

Normally, I wouldn’t bother you all with this but I happen to have a soft spot in my heart for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and the cover art for the book is fucking epic! I’ve always been a fan of cephalopods and I’ve found the steampunk aesthetic to be pretty fascinating. Combine them both along with giant monsters and you damn well better believe that I’m 100% into it! Plus, it’s wrapped itself around the Nautilus, which is already a giant vessel, so now I’m wondering just how large these mechanical monstrosities are…

Nemo Rising will be released on hardcover from Tor Books on December 26th, 2017.

Synopsis:
Sea monsters are sinking ships up and down the Atlantic Coast. Enraged that his navy is helpless against this onslaught and facing a possible World War as a result, President Ulysses S. Grant is forced to ask for assistance from the notorious Captain Nemo, in Federal prison for war crimes and scheduled for execution.

Grant returns Nemo’s submarine, the infamous Victorian Steampunk marvel Nautilus, and promises a full Presidential pardon if Nemo hunts down and destroys the source of the attacks. Accompanied by the beautiful niece of Grant’s chief advisor, Nemo sets off under the sea in search of answers. Unfortunately, the enemy may be closer than they realize…

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

News

Filming On Blumhouse’s Halloween Pushed to January

Published

on

Looks like filming on Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel to John Carpenter’s Halloween from Danny McBride and David Gordon Green has been pushed back a few months.

Not a huge deal, though. Only till January.

Filming on Halloween (2018) was supposed to begin this October (natch) but now it seems the film still has some cast to fill out.

The news comes to us via a South Carolina casting agency, The Island Packet, who are still seeking extras for the new film. In fact, if you are from the South Carolina area, you can be an extra in the film. Just click the link above for more details.

I wish I lived in or around South Carolina because being in this new Halloween would be a f*cking dream come true. If you’re in the area, get on it. You owe it to the rest of us! Haha?

How excited would you be to be an extra in this new Halloween? Let us know below!

Blumhouse’s Halloween is directed by David Gordon Green from a script he co-wrote with Danny McBride. The film stars Jamie Lee Curtis and Judy Greer and is executive produced and scored by John Carpenter.

Halloween (2018) hits theaters Oct. 19, 2018.

Synopsis:

Jamie Lee Curtis returns to her iconic role as Laurie Strode, who comes to her final confrontation with Michael Myers, the masked figure who has haunted her since she narrowly escaped his killing spree on Halloween night four decades ago.

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

From Around the Web

Trending