For his feature film debut Rites of Spring, writer/director Padraig Reynolds blends a heist gone wrong with a creature feature set in rural cornfields, and the results feel like The Wicker Man, Jeepers Creepers and Reservoir Dogs got together and made out for 81 minutes.
Starring Anessa Ramsey and AJ Bowen, Rites of Spring is heading to limited theaters this Friday, July 27th, courtesy of IFC Films; and in anticipation of the flick’s arrival to the big screen, Dread Central recently caught up with first-time filmmaker Reynolds to hear more about what inspired his genre-bending tale, his casting choices and what he has in store for his Rites of Spring trilogy.
Check out our interview with Reynolds below, and look for Rites of Spring in limited theaters this Friday!
Dread Central: We’d love to hear more about what inspired this movie, especially the blending of these two genres together. It’s just so unusual so we’re curious what went into the process for you.
Padraig Reynolds: Well, my two favorite genres are heist movies and horror movies so I just thought blending them together like this would be a lot of fun. I just loved the idea of the bad guys becoming the good guys so I wrote Rites of Spring and its sequel back-to-back when I moved to Los Angeles in about 2002. At the time there were some friends of mine who wanted to do two horror movies back-to-back and approached me about writing and directing, but those two movies fell through and never happened so I just held onto them.
I knew, though, that I had something interesting with these scripts so I just kept plugging away and kept sending scripts out wherever I could. Then in 2007 I met Eric Thompson, who was working at Maverick Red at the time, and he just fell in love with Rites of Spring so he brought it to some investors he knew in Mississippi, and that’s how this all began. Originally our plan was to do two movies back-to-back last year, but when we were doing it, they asked if we could only do one to start with so we did. I have two more stories, though, I’d love to make in this series so hopefully that will happen soon.
Dread Central: The cinematography in Rites of Spring is pretty great; can you talk a bit about the approach you took alongside your DP Carl (Herse)?
Padraig Reynolds: I told Carl I wanted to make a movie that looked like it could have been out of the 1970’s, and I think we succeeded. I love what Carl was able to do with the camera in this movie, especially the wide shots. I think that sense of beauty and openness in shots is really missing in cinema these days; we wanted this to have that open feel so everything felt ‘bigger’ to this world, too. But yes, I did want Rites of Spring to have a retro feel to it, for sure.
Dread Central: Both Anessa (Ramsey ) and AJ (Bowen) are favorites of ours here at Dread; what made them right for these roles in Rites of Spring?
Padraig Reynolds: Well, for AJ I was a fan of his other movies like The Signal and The House of the Devil so I had my manager send him the script. I wasn’t sure if he’d be game for it, but he liked the character so he signed on. I think what appealed the most to AJ about his character, Ben, is that he’s a good person who gets involved in a bad situation. He’s not the villain; he’s a victim, too, and that was a bit of a switch up.
And of course because I am a fan of The Signal, I was also a fan of Anessa from that, too; there was just something about her, and I knew she could carry this story really well. Plus, I knew she and AJ already got along so it made perfect sense to approach her; she ended up doing so great on this movie. I knew she would, but really, she blew me away.
Dread Central: Since this is the last question, can you discuss some of the more ambiguous elements to Rites of Spring; were you ever nervous that having some ambiguous elements in this story would divide your audience?
Padraig Reynolds: Not really; this is the story that I wanted to tell exactly the way I wanted to tell it. It’s so much easier to spell everything out for people so I think it’s a lot more fun to keep people guessing; plus a lot of the questions from this first movie do get addressed in the sequels so viewers will get answers.
The next movie will be called The Devil Sent the Rain and picks up right where this one leaves off, with Anessa’s character and the creature in pursuit. The third one will be completely different, though; it won’t have the same feel or maybe even the same characters as these two.
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