Exclusive: Darren Lynn Bousman on The Barrens, an Abattoir Feature Film and More - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Darren Lynn Bousman on The Barrens, an Abattoir Feature Film and More

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Writer/director Darren Lynn Bousman isn’t one to sit still for very long; after helming three successful Saw sequels from 2004 to 2007, he’s gone on to direct a string of genre flicks, and his latest thriller, The Barrens, is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Anchor Bay Films.

Recently Dread Central caught up with the ever-busy Bousman on the phone to chat about his Jersey Devil-inspired project that stars Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner and Shawn Ashmore. During our interview we heard more from him on his experiences making the film, his thoughts on collaborating with Moyer and how he pushed the “True Blood” star to his limits, and much more.

Read on for the highlights from our exclusive interview with Bousman.

Dread Central: I really enjoyed the fact that The Barrens wasn’t exactly the “Jersey Devil” movie you think it’s going to be; can you discuss why you decided to go with such an unusual approach?

Darren Lynn Bousman: You know, for me it was all about the idea that if you can remove the gimmick to the story, the movie would still work on its own merits. With Repo! the movie still worked if you removed the singing. With the Saw movies they all still worked when you took away the gore elements. And in the case of The Barrens, it needed to still work even if it didn’t have a movie monster aspect. Does it still hold water?

It’s a monster movie that has this sort of “descent into madness” feel to it, which I thought was something that really hadn’t been done before; not a lot has been done with the Jersey Devil in fact. I really don’t feel like this creature has been exploited as much as other creatures like Bigfoot, the Loch Ness or maybe even the Chupacabra; so I saw the Jersey Devil’s mythology as this untapped resource, and I thought that would be a perfect monster to set this terrifying psychological thriller against.

Dread Central: Talk about casting. Stephen Moyer as your lead; it was definitely against type in comparison to his work on “True Blood,” which I’ve enjoyed.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, Stephen was great; the whole movie rests on his shoulders, and he just kicks ass. I have tremendous respect for this guy; he always wanted to be on set as much as humanely possible, and it wasn’t necessarily an “easy” set to be on considering our location. But I think that to me is what makes for a great actor- someone who was going to be there not only for the job, but as a team player in this whole process.

The range of emotions that he has to go through in 90 minutes is astounding, and I think his work here really showed his acting chops off. He was totally down for anything, and he took a big risk with his movie. I think that he saw it as a chance to do more than he gets to do on “True Blood” – being a reserved vampire – and show off that he does have this extreme emotional range when he’s got the right material.

Dread Central: How did shooting go on The Barrens? It doesn’t really look like you guys had a glamorous shoot at all.

Darren Lynn Bousman: Well, we shot this in Toronto- we wanted to shoot in the Pine Barrens, but logistically we just couldn’t. I knew that would be a sticking point for the Jersey Devil fans out there, that our forest doesn’t look like the Pine Barrens, but we got as close as we could; and I think overall it still looks pretty damn close. I don’t think it detracts from the story either.

So this movie was made for a very small amount, and we shot it in what turned out to be 16 days; it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever made. It was a really, really rough shoot; we were plagued with weather issues and forced to shut down shooting numerous times- it was a nightmare, literally. Plus, this was the first film that I have done which was shot entirely on location. Before, I had sound stages and controlled environments, but with The Barrens we were in the forest the entire time, and you forget to take into consideration things like having to move cables and lighting through the forest. You could spend half a day just moving cable- it was awful.

Dread Central: Let’s talk about the monster- the design and how you conceived the look of it. I appreciated that these days when so many people would have gone digital, you decided to take the complicated route and do a practical creature in this project.

Darren Lynn Bousman: I did not want to do a CG monster movie at all; that was never my intention at any point on this movie so I always intended to have a practical monster in The Barrens. That being said, one of the problems that we ran into is that we were very limited to what we could actually afford and get away with for our Jersey Devil; and given our time constraint with production moving so quickly, I never saw the Jersey Devil until the day it showed up on our set.

So when it actually showed up on set, the thing weighed hundreds of pounds, and the actor that was in it couldn’t move at all inside the costume. Originally we were supposed to see the monster more in the movie but it got to a point that he couldn’t move in the suit, and after all was said and done, it actually took five or six guys to operate it. So the Jersey Devil ends up being in less than a minute in the entire movie.

Dread Central: Any future plans to do more with the Jersey Devil mythology then?

Darren Lynn Bousman: I’m not sure, but I know that I would love to continue this mythology on because I think it’s such a fascinating creature. There’s a lot, too, that we couldn’t really put into the script – more on the witchcraft and Satanism – that I would love to explore in the future, too.

Dread Central: So what’s up next for you then?

Darren Lynn Bousman: Well, I’ve got the Blu-ray and DVD of The Devil’s Carnival coming out October 23rd, and I’m currently getting my next film project ready – Abattoir – which is based on the comic series I did a few years back. I’m writing the script right now, and I think that’s going to be the next movie I make.

Synopsis
It’s known as the Jersey Devil, the winged beast spawned 400 years ago by Satan himself. Some say this creature still inhabits the dense pine forests of southern New Jersey, where Richard Vineyard (Moyer) takes his family for a rustic weekend camping trip. As the Vineyard family ventures further into the woods in search of the perfect campsite, Richard teeters on the edge of sanity. Welcome to a new kind of horror that lives – and kills – in a place called The Barrens.

Bonus features on The Barrens Blu-ray™/DVD combo (review here) and DVD include commentary by writer/director Bousman and director of photography Joseph White and a deleted scene.

Exclusive: Darren Lynn Bousman on The Barrens, an Abattoir Feature Film and More

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Armageddon’s Will Patton Joins Blumhouse Halloween as a Police Officer

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It was just the other day that we let you guys know that filming on Blumhouse’s upcoming sequel to John Carpenter’s classic Halloween had kicked off in South Carolina.

And today we have news via The Tracking Board that yet another major member of the cast has been set with Will Patton joining Blumhouse’s Halloween as a police officer. Patton is a name you may recognize from such films as Armageddon, The Punisher, and The Puppet Masters.

No further details are known regarding Patton’s role at this point, but we will make sure to keep you guys up to date on any and all Halloween news as we hear it!

How excited are you for Blumhouse’s upcoming Halloween sequel from Danny McBride and director David Gordon Green? Let us know below!

Blumhouse’s Halloween hits theaters October 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.

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An Early Draft of Halloween 6 Has Been Released And It’s… Interesting

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When Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers premiered in 1995, audiences weren’t particularly enamored… Between the convoluted story line and the numerous rewrites and production cuts, only the most ardent of Halloween fans could be satisfied. Not to say the film was a complete failure — many have warmed up to its charms in recent years, praising the cast and cinematography, as well as for featuring the last great performance from the late Donald Pleasence.

But Halloween 5 and its cliffhanger ending had created many unanswered questions that would be left up to H6 writer Daniel Farrands to address. Who was this mysterious Man in Black? Why did he assist in Michael’s escape? And why do both characters share the same tattoo of an ancient rune symbol, which had not appeared in any of the prior films? With this kind of baggage, it seems Halloween 6 was doomed from the start.

But before Farrands was signed on to write, another script was considered. Penned by Phil Rosenberg, this draft, had it come to fruition, might’ve also been directed by Evil Dead II writer Scott Spiegel… In an interview with Fangoria, Spiegel spoke of this draft as well as of his meeting with Halloween producer Moustapha Akkad. “[Moustapha] was pretty cool. He had some reservations about me, but finally he said, ‘Ok, maybe we’ll use you to do a polish on a script that we’re considering, and then maybe we’ll let you direct it.’ When I read the screenplay, I said, ‘Oh boy.’ It reminded me of a Friday the 13th movie and presented Michael Myers as a homeless person. It was really unfocused and corny, and I just didn’t understand what this homeless element was about.”

As we know, both Spiegel and Rosenberg were dismissed from the project… and despite being a serious contender at one point, a displeased Akkad reportedly tossed Rosenberg’s draft across the room. Spiegel continued, “I really was relieved. The script that we were going to shoot at the time was going to be hard to overcome. And my feeling was that I didn’t need to be the one to make a crummy sequel to what had been a decent series of films.”

Damn… how bad can this script be? Luckily, we just found out! Rosenberg’s draft was recently sold to a fan on eBay, who was gracious enough to share with us! Below, we provide a brief overview… or if you feel compelled, you may read the script for yourself to see what could’ve been Halloween 6!


Titled Halloween 666: The Origin, this draft follows Dana Childress, a young news reporter from Chicago whose dreams are plagued by the midwest’s most notorious serial killer — Michael Myers. With a news crew in tow (including her interest Robert Clifton), Dana reluctantly travels to Haddonfield to get the scoop on the town’s first Halloween celebration in five years. Sound familiar?

It just so happens that original Halloween survivor Tommy Doyle is also at the forefront of this script — here, he is presented as a 29-year-old outcast, obsessed with the boogeyman that tormented his youth… newspaper clippings of Myers’ crimes adorn his walls. That’s… coincidental; another element that made it to the screen (but had first appeared in Dennis Etchison’s Halloween 4 draft, which you can read here).

And yes… Michael Myers is now homeless. He sleeps in dark alley ways and can openly walk through a shelter… Interesting. While Tommy advocates for the ban on Halloween, Dana and Robert venture through the town, making a pit stop at the former home of Lindsey Wallace — another child who survived Michael’s first rampage. She doesn’t appear in the script, having moved to New York after years of therapy… but her parents still reside in the house where Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) discovered the bodies in the original film. Informing the group they were once associates of the Myers family, the couple invites the news crew inside.

While watching home video footage of young Michael, Dana becomes alarmed… his grandmother bears a striking resemblance to her own. Both women also possess the same figurine of a bronze-masked soldier with a spear (a good luck charm in the lore of Samhain?) And with that, the implausible revelation that Dana is Michael’s sister takes shape… This feels rather contrived, with many fans having already lamented the decision to establish a relationship between Laurie and Michael in Halloween II.

Undeniably, the most outlandish aspect of this draft is the virtual reality element… You see, Tommy possesses a VR program — described as a “high tech Ouiji board” — that allows one to see within the netherworld… Taking a few notes from the 3D finale of Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare(?), this concept would allow Tommy and Dana to witness flashbacks of the early Samhain festivals, as well as how the Myers family came to be cursed after defying the Gods… Maybe I’m simple minded, but this seems far more confusing than what ended up on screen. Read for yourself and see what you make of it… (although I do feel compelled to reveal that Judith Myers’ desecrated grave is the portal into this netherworld).

It’s an ambitious script alright… one in which the initial setup might’ve had me for a few earlier sequences. Aside from the confusing Samhain and virtual reality elements, Michael also seems to be exploited for comic relief… For example: To reach his targets, our beloved psychopath would’ve been shown as needing to stand on a toilet commode to break through the ceiling… and this is after he shoves a kissing couple out of the bathroom and slams the door shut. To boot, few seem worried about Myers’ return as most are oblivious (and typically laugh off his presence). Because of this, there’s only a few scenes that might warrant real tension. The kills are equally all over the place; at one point, Michael shoves a rat down the throat of a Droog-costumed frat boy. Later, he kills a hockey masked party-goer through use of a beer bong and copious amounts of alcohol…

Regarding those loose ends created by Halloween 5, the Thorn tattoo isn’t explained and there’s only one or two references to the Man in Black character; enough to reveal the identity which should come as a nice shock to fans… It’s Father Carpenter! If this name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s because it’s supposed to be the Reverend Sayer character from Halloween 4… here, he is played up for the creeps in a role that I couldn’t help but correlate with Henry Kane from Poltergeist II. Also returning is Ben Meeker, the former sheriff of the previous two films. Like Tommy, he is dismissive of the town’s newfound willingness to celebrate the holiday.

Unfortunately, Dr. Loomis only appears in one scene. He resides within the mental ward of a hospital, possibly by choice considering the phrasing — the good doctor who spent years treating Michael is now back where he started, albeit in a different position… An inspired decision! But here, he simply “passes the torch” to Tommy and this is the last we see of him. Seems like a wasted opportunity.

A notable character who doesn’t make any real appearance is Jamie Lloyd, who, after serving as the protagonist of the previous two films, is simply said to be MIA. We are, however, treated to a brief glimpse of Myers’ niece in the form of a series of rapid shots during the Samhain/virtual reality segment: Surrounded by scattering rats, Jamie screams as she is trapped in a cage made of human bones.

While I’m not in love with many elements of this script, I do think following a news reporter as she travels to Haddonfield would’ve made for a nice starting point. I’ve only given a basic overview so I’d encourage any Halloween fan to read the script for themselves.

Furthermore, I think the existence of this draft (and its criticism among fan circles; my own included) captures the limitations of what a Halloween film is allowed to do. In comparison to the Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street sequels, the Halloween films have suffered from a creative bankruptcy due to the fact that the original film was grounded in reality. Stray too far and you face the risk of pissing off the fans that would prefer a safer, more traditional route — a sequel/reboot that might amount to nothing more than a reiteration of the original (a film far too simple to really merit a continuing story line unless new ideas are developed). A few months back, I posted an interview with Robert Harders, who shared his original take on Halloween 5… I thought his ideas were great and could’ve made for a unique yet still satisfying entry — however, most fans seemed dismissive.

I do not believe this draft of Halloween 6 should’ve been the way to go… and as hypocritical as my think piece sounds, this upcoming film should be all the more stronger for only referencing the original (in all of its simple glory). But, as with H20, this upcoming film has a hook; and that is Jamie Lee Curtis’ return — that aspect should elevate the story tremendously, but without her presence we’d be back at square one. I would love to see a modern version where Michael stalks babysitters without any references to the previous films… but after that?

Are we limited to tropes such as Halloween… but in a hospital? Halloween… but during an early winter storm? Halloween… but this time, Michael fixates on a male? I guess so… and these are all worthy ideas, might I add… but how long can this series really last? Another forty years? Could the reboot open the doors for Seth Rogen and James Franco Meet Michael Myers? Will the series experience a creative renaissance down the road… in line with the Frankenstein entries released by Hammer Films in the ’70s? The possibilities could be endless… even involving virtual reality perhaps?

With the idea in mind that a fan might become burnt out by watching the same rehashed material, perhaps it’s best that we’ve endured almost ten years between films… When considering this Halloween 6 draft, I think we should be aware of how difficult it can be to create a fresh and groundbreaking entry that would warrant the creator’s time… as well as proving satisfying to all… or most… or even a portion, if lucky. In any case, the upcoming film looks to please and we need not worry for now.

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Sulphur for Leviathan to Haunt the Festival Circuit

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Last year’s The Temple of Lilith will be receiving a thirteen minute companion piece in the form of Sulphur for Leviathan. Read on for more.

From the Press Release:
Sodom & Chimera Productions has debuted the first trailer and new stills for Sulphur for Leviathan, the 13 minute companion piece to last year’s The Temple of Lilith.

Sulphur for Leviathan is the newest blending of arthouse and horror from experimental filmmaker James Quinn, who proudly stated, “Sulphur for Leviathan is a film that started out purely as an idea of rage. An outcry of anger against the anti-rationalism of the Catholic church, in this case not the more widely discussed controversies such as reoccurring cases of pedophilia and abuse, but rather the many moral codes they like to preach, like the commonly known ‘turn the other cheek’. While that may sound like a rather aggressive reason for a film, it is in its essence nothing but a piece of food for thought, intended to raise some questions about tough moral decisions that would be executed in a vastly different way outside of the religious concept.”

Sulphur for Leviathan stars Susan M. Martin as The Nun, known for Plank Face and Space Babes from Outer Space, as well as Jerry Larew as Lucifer, widely known for his portrayal of Alfie in the She Was So Pretty films. Other roles include Craig Long as Satan, and Joseph Knapik, head of the Columbus Zombie Walk, as a demon priest.

The score was created by composer Leanna Primiani, who recently worked on the award winning horror short The Daughters of Virtue. The film also features music by the band Come to Grief, a Doom/Sludge Metal band from Boston, whose song Killed by Life was used for the end credits.

Sulphur for Leviathan revolves around a nun, who suddenly finds herself progressively fantasizing about things that shouldn’t be in her head, increasingly having to face her own doings of blasphemy, all leading up to something demonically dark and sinister. Portrayed in a surreal manner both in color and black and white, with a heavy focus on elegant cinematography, the film tells a satanic tale of unfulfilled desires, lust, blasphemy and existential dread, packed in a controversial and disturbing, but calm and poetic experience that is heavily inspired by Andrei Tarkovsky, with a touch of satanism.

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