Jessica Biel Discusses Pascal Laugier's Latest Thriller The Tall Man - Dread Central
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Jessica Biel Discusses Pascal Laugier’s Latest Thriller The Tall Man



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In Pascal Laugier’s latest film, The Tall Man (review), Jessica Biel stars as Julia Denning, a woman whose son goes missing, which seems to be tied to a string of disappearances in her small town that has left the quiet community shaken to its core.

Soon, it’s up to Julia find the elusive boogeyman known only as “The Tall Man” who has been haunting the area, kidnapping young children and tormenting those left behind.

Her role in The Tall Man is just one of Biel’s many contributions to the genre world- she’s also starred in films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot, Blade: Trinity and Sacha Gervasi’s upcoming semi-biopic Hitchcock, which finds the actress portraying real-life actress Vera Miles.

Recently Dread Central participated in a roundtable conference call with Biel in support of The Tall Man, which is opening in limited release on Friday, August 31st, courtesy of Image Entertainment. Check out the highlights of our interview below!

Question: Had you seen Martyrs before coming on board this movie, and were you concerned at all what the content might be when you were first approached for The Tall Man?

Jessica Biel: Is it weird to say that yes, I saw Martyrs, and yes, I loved it? (laughs) I knew it was going to be torture, and I did it anyway.

Question: What were your initial thoughts when you read the script for The Tall Man?

Jessica Biel: You know, I was completely surprised by the script; every page I got further into it, I had no idea what was going on. Then, after the first twist and then the second twist, I just said, ‘My god, I have to do this movie.’ I loved Martyrs; it was so hard to watch and brutal, but it was elegant. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I was so impressed by Pascal’s work, I had to work with him.

Question: You’ve been in other genre films before, but they were a bit more high energy; here the tables are turned in your position of power so how did Pascal help you find that place?

Jessica Biel: It was incredibly challenging to get through this performance; Pascal and I were constantly walking this tightwire in The Tall Man because what was the right reaction for this particular woman, whatever moment we’re talking about, that is authentic for what she knows is happening. And what is authentic for what we want the audience to know, which was very different for me. It was super challenging to get that right every time.

To find the character of Julia, I was really interested in the psyche of this woman. Basically, the back story we had created was that she was part of an organization, like Doctors Without Borders, and was able to experience all of these different clinics all over the world dealing with underprivileged children and families. It was the bureaucracy bullshit and red tape of the bullshit she deals with that overwhelms her because of her inability to help everybody. So she broke a little bit and has become obsessed with saving all of these kids in sort of a ‘micro idea’ but in a ‘macro way’; that is really who Julia is. She’s just trying to do good and has gone way overboard, but she believes that in the end what she’s doing is right and that it is the only way to get through all of the crap.

Question: Did you stick to the script for The Tall Man while filming, or were you allowed to work with Pascal a bit to help flesh Julia out even more while shooting?

Jessica Biel: Pascal and I definitely worked together to create a real, intense human being who had all of this back story. Julia was definitely on the page, but we were constantly feeling her out- how can we make this woman more genuine and more sympathetic? That really is Pascal’s specialty. Yes, Pascal wants to make the movie look beautiful, and yes, he cares about the suspense and the scares, but he was so diligent and relentless with me about character that it was always highly important to him that we got it right.

We would not stop until he got some performance for me, almost like I had to surrender to it or something. I had to surrender to my own performance and transcend it so we could get something that was so… I don’t know even know the word for it but magic I guess. But it’s when the real emotion comes out, and obviously since I don’t know anyone who has had this experience myself, we just tried to capture it the best we could. This movie and this role are about the human need to protect, even if it’s in a messed up way.

Question: The ending of The Tall Man could be considered challenging to many; did you have any concerns about that going into the project?

Jessica Biel: Definitely; the ambiguity of the ending is very concerning. No one knows how to market this movie- it’s been a real conundrum for everybody (laughs). I mean, how do we put this movie out there to a mass audience. I know the ending isn’t fulfilling, I know you wind up feeling like, ‘I don’t know what I like or what I feel,’ but I think that’s what Pascal wanted. So, in that, we succeeded at what we wanted to do. It’s kind of like a foreign film in a way in that it doesn’t wrap anything up and you’re wanting to discuss it, and that’s what we want to do from the start.

Question: So, Jessica, in that vein if there was an American storyteller or director who tried to tell this film in the Hollywood system, do you think it would it have worked as well then?

Jessica Biel: You know, I don’t know; if we’re talking about with a big studio and a big director, no, that would not have been the film we would have made, and I think that’s what was interesting to me, that I was doing something that was really different and it really is character driven.

People don’t like the ending? Oh well; we’re making art and that’s what this is. I think it’s hard to compare what a French filmmaker would do to it compared to what an American filmmaker would do to it, but I guess, on the surface, you could say an American filmmaker would do something totally different, but that’s not entirely true. David Fincher, for example, doesn’t make obvious movies with obvious endings.

These kind of films don’t happen often. That’s why this was a great opportunity for me to play an incredible character; I have to take that kind of risk from time to time. These moments only come along every so often, and I have to take them whenever I can.

The Tall Man is available on VOD right now.

Jessica Biel Discusses Pascal Laugier's Latest Thriller The Tall Man

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Pride and Prometheus Fuses the Horror of Mary Shelley with the Romance of Jane Austen



This year marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein so you can expect to see several articles tied in with that momentous occasion over the next several months. Today we have your first word on Pride and Prometheus from John Kessel, which fuses Shelley’s Gothic horror with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way.

Born in Buffalo, New York, Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of the novels Good News from Outer Space, Corrupting Dr. Nice, and, in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence. Also with Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sci-fi, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Pride and Prometheus arrives February 13th from Sega Press. Look for a guest blog from John Kessel in the coming weeks!

Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England, where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

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Why Brad Anderson’s Session 9 Scared the Hell Out of Me



“Hello, Gordon.”

Invariably working for sites such as Dread Central I am always asked the question, “What is the scariest movie you have ever seen?” And, well, truth be told movies don’t tend to scare me that often. Sure there are my go-to flicks time and time again, such as The Blair Witch Project, Paranormal Activity, and Lake Mungo. But sure enough everytime I spout out that list to a fellow horror fan they always follow up with, “Well, what is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen that ISN’T found footage?” Fair enough question.

Now while I’m not going to go into what I consider to be the scariest non-found footage horror movies (we’ll get into all of that at some later date) I do want to point out a movie in particular here today. The way it goes is that when I tell people my list of scariest non-found footage films, they always nod in agreement. Until that is, I get to a film called Session 9. It is at that point that whomever I am talking to cocks their head to the side and says, “I’ve never heard of that one.” Which is a shame and it happens far too often. So today I want to, yet again, give any and everyone who’s willing to listen the recommend.

Let’s begin with a quick rundown of the film. Session 9 was written and directed by Brad Anderson, who is a name you might recognize as the creative force behind such films as The Vanishing on 7th Street, Transsiberian, and the “Christian Bale is as skinny as a skeleton” mindfuck The Machinist.

But as good as those film may (or may not) be, without a doubt Anderson’s masterpiece is Session 9. Written specifically to be filmed inside the Danvers State Mental Hospital, the film stars David Caruso (don’t let that stop you), Peter Mullan, Josh Lucas and a few other gents as a group of asbestos removal guys who are possibly haunted within the walls of the institute while on a job.

If that rundown isn’t the best, here is the film’s official synopsis: “A tale of terror when a group of asbestos removal workers starts work in an abandoned insane asylum. The complex of buildings looms up out of the woods like a dormant beast. Grand, imposing…abandoned, deteriorating. The residents of Danvers, Massachusetts steer well clear of the place. But Danvers State Mental Hospital closed down for 15 years is about to receive five new visitors…”

Brrr… freaky enough, right? Well, trust me, the actual film is leaps and bounds better than even that creeper synopsis lets on. And best of all, with all horror and terror aside, the film is a tight flick about a group of men and how they interact as a team. While that may not sound too appealing, the actors, yes, even David Caruso, make for a lovable group of grumps that I enjoyed spending 90 minutes with.

Let’s talk about the horror for a second. You have to wait until the end, but once it hits (full-force) it is well worth the wait. The first 2/3 of the film are creepy but are mostly about the men and the job. Horror looms in the background at all times, sure, but it isn’t until the final act that the shit really hits the fan. And boy, does it. The final act is as bloody as any slasher you could ever hope for and even features a fun, very cool cameo by Mr. Larry Fessenden himself. But it is the final, give or take, 30 seconds of the film that still haunts me to this day.

You see the film is constantly playing a game of “Is it ghosts? Is it all in your head? Or is there a human element to the horror?” And that game comes to nightmarish reality in the film’s final moments. I specifically remember having fun with the film until its last frames. That was when I needed to turn the lights on. But that still didn’t help. The horror that Session 9 presents in its final moments are horrors where there is nowhere to run, no way to prevent it from finding you in the darkness, and no way to save yourself, or your loved ones, if it finds you.

“I live in the weak and the wounded.”

Being that I am prone to being one of those dudes that let’s shit bottle up inside until I explode (sad but true), this film is fu*king terrifying to me. I get it. I fear it. And I hope you will too. As kids, we need cautionary tales, and let’s not forget that we as adults do too sometimes. Session 9 is a warning for grown-ups. You almost deserve it to yourself and your loved ones to see this film and allow it sink in. Just don’t expect to sleep for a few nights…

In the end, why did Session 9 scare the hell out me so bad? Was it that voice that haunts my dreams to this day, or was it what the voice says? I’m still not sure. But trust me when I say that Brad Anderson’s Session 9 is one of the absolute scariest films I have ever seen. If you haven’t given the film its day in court yet, remedy that ASAP and thank me (or hate me) later.

You can buy Session 9 on Blu-ray HERE. And while you’re at it make sure to check out Villmark Asylum now on VOD.

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See the Zombies’ End Preview Released Today



Do you have an idea about how a zombie apocalypse would end?

The standard story lines from movies, TV, and comics tell us defeating the zombie horde would take either guns and bombs or antidotes and vaccines.

How about a living head in a bucket that sinks deep within his own mind, talks to Death in a tuxedo, and uncovers an uncanny solution?

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty
If you’re reading Zombies’ End, the 56-page graphic novel I’m Kickstarting through February 16, 2018, you know the answer. I’m not known for telling simple stories.

We’ve just released a free preview of Zombies’ End that you can read or download here. You can look for the zombie solution there, there are clues, but I’m being tight-lipped about that detail. We’ll see how well I keep the secret through February 16th.

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty

Readers will recognize our hero from the Wounds graphic novel I released last year. That story took place inside the hero’s mind. Trauma and isolation caused him to construct different scenarios, and we readers were left to piece together the past and present — just like the hero was doing.

The format of Zombie’s End is meant to complement 2017’s Wounds graphic novel, but they don’t have to be read together. Both are stand-alone stories, but they read as Part 1 and Part 2.

Zombies’ End is in the real world, mostly. Just like in Wounds, the hero’s head holds answers.

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty

In Zombies’ End, a living head in a bucket and his zombie daughter, who are said to hold the key to mankind’s survival, are transported by three brave soldiers through the apocalypse.

As the head struggles to maintain sanity and focus, he realizes his disjointed visions are not entirely unreal and must convince mankind that the solution to this zombie horror will be more extraordinary than anyone imagines.

Zombies' End graphic novel by Gary Scott Beatty

The cover blurb reads, “Mankind forever changed.” I realize all zombie stories say that, but it’s an understatement for Wounds. There is absolutely no going back from the solution at the end of this book.

The Kickstarter for this graphic novel runs January 16 through February 16, 2018. Join us in this madness at Bring imagination. It’s going to take both muscle and brainpower to take us to zombies’ end.

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