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Director Sean Hogan Talks Doing The Devil’s Business

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Director Sean Hogan Talks Doing The Devil's BusinessThis Saturday, May 11th, director Sean Hogan’s horror flick The Devil’s Business (review) makes its premiere on the UK’s Horror Channel (much better than the long rumored American Horror Channel, whom we wish well), and we’ve got a quick Q&A for ya! Check it out!

Billy Clarke, Jack Gordon, and Jonathan Hansler star.

Q: How did The Devil’s Business come together?

Sean Hogan: I’d been waiting a long time for another project to come together, and out of sheer frustration, I had a meeting with my producer Jen Handorf one night and proposed that we make something for very little money, just to get back in the saddle. I’d recently seen Down Terrace and really liked it, and my feeling was that you didn’t need a whole lot of money to make something, just a good script, talented actors and one location. So I sat down and wrote Devil’s Business to be done along those lines. What happened then was, the other project finally happened, but turned out to be a nightmare experience. So once the dust had settled, I really needed to wash the bad taste out of my mouth. So Jen proposed we go back to The Devil’s Business. It came together really quickly after that; we basically pulled it all together in a few months.

Q: Did the script take long to write?

SH: Not really. It was short, for one thing! And I was kind of on a roll when I wrote it; I’d written about five scripts already that year so the gears were well oiled. Besides, it really was one of those times where the characters took over and wrote themselves – it always sounds horribly pretentious when writers say that, but what can I tell you, it’s true! I normally outline much more than I did on Devil’s Business, but in this instance I just sat down and started writing with only a vague sense of what was going to happen. For instance, when I wrote Pinner’s monologue, I didn’t really know what he was going to say or how it would impact the rest of the film; all I knew was that he was going to tell a strange story. And it all just came flooding out. It certainly isn’t always that simple, so I have fond memories of writing it.

Q: Was it a hard movie to cast?

SH: No, we were fairly lucky in that department. We didn’t have a casting director, so it was largely a case of me and Jen scouring Spotlight and looking at showreels, etc. That was how we found Billy Clarke, who played Pinner. He was the first person who read for the part and I just loved him immediately. Johnny Hansler was someone I’d auditioned for another film – he wasn’t right for that part but I made a note that if we ever did Devil’s he’d be great for Mr. Kist, so we just made him an offer based on that. And Jack Gordon was a recommendation via his agency, who Jen had a working relationship with. Again, he just came in and rocked the audition. Easiest casting process I’ve ever had, despite the lack of resources.

Q: How did you go about getting funding for the film?

SH: It was private money. We wanted to control the production ourselves – because we’d had enough of meddling, crooked, incompetent executives – so Jen and I invested some money to get things going. And then we approached some other people we knew to kick in some cash as well. We knew that if we tried to get it made through official industry channels it would take forever and we’d have to put up with a ton of less-than-helpful script notes, so we made a decision we’d just do it our way – for less money, but with more control. It was hard work doing it on the budget, but the actual experience of doing it with no outside interference was sheer bliss.

Q: The film picked up some great reviews including one that stated “…smart British horror has a touch of the Roald Dahl to it” – that’s quite a compliment.

SH: We were very happy with the response, without a doubt. From my perspective, I had no idea how the film would be received; it was just cathartic to make it. I figured that it was such a small production that it might easily disappear without a trace. And besides, it isn’t really a conventional horror film in many ways; it’s quite dialogue-driven and character-based, which always puts some people off. So I was definitely steeling myself for the worst. But then we premiered it at FrightFest and got wonderful reviews, and it went on from there. So I was delighted – I’ve had bad luck with UK distribution in the past, so to get that sort of a reaction was very rewarding. And it definitely made everyone’s hard work worth it.

Q: You must be pleased that the film is getting its UK TV premiere on the Horror Channel?

SH: Certainly am. Again, if you’d said to me when we were shooting it that the film would eventually play cinemas, come out on DVD and then show on TV, I’d have probably asked you what you were on and where could I get some. The Horror Channel has been very supportive of me and so I’m really pleased we’ve found a home here.

Q: What state do you think the British horror movie industry is in?

SH: It’s very tough, certainly at an independent level. DVD sales are down and whilst I think VOD will eventually take up the slack, it isn’t there yet. But horror is reliant on those sorts of areas to make it viable. So you get a lot of distributors asking you to make something along the lines of what was successful last year. Which I hate hearing, not least because that never works. I’ve certainly been asked to make something similar to Kill List, for instance. But Kill List was successful because it wasn’t like anything else at the time, and if you just try and copy that, the audience will smell it a mile off. And anyway, we kept getting compared to Kill List anyway, so why would I want to do that again? I honestly think a lot of it comes down to a lack of respect for the genre; a lot of industry people just see it as product and not worth any serious consideration. Therefore you get a lot of crap being made, just because it ticks certain commercial boxes. And so if you want to do something different, you run into difficulty. But there are definitely good UK filmmakers out there, so I just hope that everyone keeps plugging away and making films one way or another. Because if history shows us anything, it’s that good horror usually comes out of the independent sector anyway.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to become a director or work in the horror industry?

SH: It’s obvious, but my primary point is always to pay attention to your script. The writing really isn’t worth a damn in most horror films. And yet, it costs no money to get your characters and dialogue written properly. So if you can’t write, find someone who can. Similarly, cast good actors – they may not be famous names, but you can certainly find people who can act. Trust me, it’s easy if the script is good – actors are desperate for quality material. Don’t make something that’s just by the numbers – we’ve all seen the classic horror films, doesn’t mean we want to see slavish copies/homages. Figure out what really scares you and put it onscreen – because if it scares you then odds are it will scare someone else. And for god’s sake yes, please try and be scary. Rape and torture are not scary, and I’m so incredibly bored with how much of that we’re seeing right now. It’s easy to be upsetting, but it’s not easy to be scary.

Q: So what are you working on at the moment?

SH: Jen and I are developing a script called No Man’s Land, which is a horror movie set in the trenches of WWI. We’ve had a lot of interest over that, so I’m hopeful we can get that going this year. I’m attached to a bunch of other projects as well, but that’s where I’m focusing right now. I’m also producing a documentary called Future Shock!, which tells the story of the legendary UK comic 2000AD. That’s proving to be a lot of fun, and the response to us making it has been great. That should be ready sometime next year.

Synopsis
Two hit men, Pinner (Billy Clarke), a cynical veteran, and the inexperienced Cully (Jack Gordon), are sent to murder an old associate of their underworld boss. But things are not all what they seem in their quarry’s house, and the duo descend into the shadowy darkness of their own tortured souls. Exuding a palpable atmosphere of claustrophobic dread, this is an eerily effective gem from director Sean Hogan.

The Horror Channel (official site here) can be found on Sky channel 319 and 198, Virgin 149 and Freesat 138. Follow them on Twitter at @horror_channel. Check your local listings for additional times and air dates.

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Check Out the Opening 2 Minutes of Another WolfCop

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It was just earlier today that we brought you guys The Dude Design’s the newest poster for writer-director Lowell Dean’s horror-comedy sequel Another WolfCop.

And now we have the movie’s opening 2 minutes!

The clip showcases the new flick’s villain trying to sell us on his “Chicken Milk Beer” before losing his cool and taking it out the commercial’s crew. We then cut to a ragtag group of criminals, dressed as homeless Santas trying to outrun the cops.

A fun two-minutes if you ask me!

You can check out Another WolfCop‘s opening scene below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!

The film is written and directed by Lowell Dean, produced by Bernie Hernando, Deborah Marks, and Hugh Patterson, and distributed worldwide by Cineplex.

Another WolfCop co-stars Amy Matysio, Jonathan Cherry, and Serena Miller. The film also features special appearances from Canadian music icon Gowan and legendary filmmaker Kevin Smith. It was executive produced by Sean Buckley, J. Joly, Bill Marks, Brian Wideen, Michael Kennedy, and Michael Hirsch.

The film is slated for a wide Cineplex theatrical release on Friday, December 8, 2017, with the film seeing a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital home entertainment release through A71 and Black Fawn in 2018.

Synopsis:

A month has passed since the eclipse transformed hard-drinking Officer Lou Garou into the crime-fighting hellion WolfCop. Although the Shape Shifters controlling the town have been extinguished, Woodhaven is far from returning to normal. Lou’s liquor-fueled antics and full moon outbursts are seriously testing his relationship with Officer Tina Walsh – the new Chief of Police. An old friend has mysteriously reappeared with a truly bizarre secret to share, and a homicidal new villain has emerged from the shadows looking to finish what the Shape Shifters started. To defeat this lethal adversary, it will take more than a lone wolf packing a pistol.

Prepare for the next chapter of WolfCop that will be more dirty and hairy than the original! Consider yourself warned.

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AHS: Cult Review: Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 5 (2 votes)
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