Exclusive: Declan O’Brien Talks Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings from the Set
“We’ve got five more days, and we’ve switched to days and interiors so I can see the light,” Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings director Declan O’Brien told us of the production while on the set this past March 7, 2011, in the below-zero clime of then wintry Brandon, Canada. “We completed all of the exteriors already so it’s going to be a pleasure.”
Serving as a prequel to the 2003 Rob Schmidt-directed killer hillbilly flick that launched the franchise and written and directed by O’Brien (who returns to the franchise following his helming of Wrong Turn 3: Left For Dead), this fourth entry not only serves to document the events that created the series’ rural cannibals but also presents the modern story of a group of wayward skiers who find themselves seeking refuge in an abandoned insane asylum during a blizzard.
With the shuttered and decidedly creepy Brandon Mental Health Centre in Manitoba serving as the location, O’Brien commented on the paranormal events allegedly witnessed by the film’s crew during the shoot of Wrong Turn 4 (these questionable and Castle-esque marketing ploys are often experienced by set journalists, although these whimsical stories never seem to get old).
“Olaf, who is the lead set constructor, said that as soon as he got to set, everyone started having accidents and were cutting themselves,” weaved the director. “He gashed his finger, too, and then apparently at like three or four in the morning they start hearing a dog barking somewhere in the building, like a ghost dog. And it totally freaked the entire construction crew out, and so I got him on video talking about it,” offered Declan, who was shooting a director’s video diary in addition to the film (this footage will appear in the October 25th unrated disc release’s ‘Die-aries’ section from Fox Home Entertainment). “I’ve been shooting a lot of supplemental material on HD. Lots of fun stuff.”
Starring Sean Skene, Daniel Skene and Scott Johnson (who play Three-Finger, One-Eye and Saw-Tooth, respectively), actors Jennifer Pudavick, Tenika Davis, Kaitlyn Wong, Terra Vnesa, Victor Zinck, Jr., Dean Armstrong, Ali Tataryn, Arne MacPherson and Samantha Kendrick make up the body count. Blane Cypurda, Tristan Carlucci and Bryan Verot portray the disfigured brothers at the heart of the series during their formative years.
Of the flick’s development and production process, O’Brien stated of the Red camera-shot Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, “I’ve got to deliver this film on June 1, 2011, and I started writing on October 1 of 2010 and delivered the first draft of the script on Halloween so it’s been a quick turnaround. What we are shooting is pretty much the first draft with additional modifications for the location. So that was kind of cool. What I really liked was that when they called me and said, ‘We need a Halloween movie,’ this (project) clicked.”
When queried if he was surprised by the amount of Wrong Turn 3 units sold, O’Brien replied, “No. It was good. We moved lots and lots. I knew it was a good movie, and I think it was the most profitable of the three. So when the studio said, ‘Why don’t we bring back Three-Finger,’ I said, ‘I killed him dead, three fucking times, dead, dead, dead.’ But they said, ‘Come up with an idea,’ and I said, ‘Okay, let’s do a prequel, an origination of the story.’ So it starts in 1974 with baby Three-Finger and Saw-Tooth and One-Eye and how they all started in the cannibal hillbilly business, and I’m really proud of it. And then we cut from 1974 to 2003. The first fifteen minutes will be set in the 70’s and take place before the title card even appears.”
As for what challenges O’Brien faced in creating the cinematic incarnation of his script in the budgetary-scaled straight-to-video market, he offered, “You know what? The location looks like time stopped in 1979 so it was cost-efficient. We hit gold when we found this place. I wrote this movie actually to be shot in a mental hospital in Bulgaria that I had shot at before, and I knew I could do it for the budget (offered) in Bulgaria, but sure enough, after turning the script in, they said, ‘Hey, there’s a place in Brandon that you should take a look at,’ and I did, and it worked. It actually fit into my script perfectly. I think we’ll be the last film to shoot here ever, though. They are going to gut it and turn it into a university, but it is a wonderful location.”
Regarding the effects which will be on display, “They’ve done amazing work,” gleamed O’Brien of special makeup designer Doug Morrow and his team. “We are doing a whole fucked-up fondue scene, which is amazing! We are doing ninety percent practical on this shoot. There will be CG blood enhancement and that sort of stuff, but that’s it. We have some interesting, interesting kills that people have not seen before, and that I pride myself on, and I guarantee you that with all of the fucking Saw films and all that shit, that you haven’t seen this before.”
As for shooting the snowmobile chase sequence, a scene already communicated by the flick’s trailer which subsequently has been released (and which you can see below), “It was stupid cold! Even the locals thought it was cold,” said O’Brien. “But if you look at some of the footage, it’s beautiful. It’s interesting because they way Mike (Marshall) is lighting it and the way we are working together, visually it’s like a painting, and then all of this horrible shit happens. He’s really good!"
“But I got in real trouble with production because I crashed a snowmobile into a tree,” recalled O’Brien with a laugh. “I was with actor Rick Skene (who doubled as the film’s stunt coordinator) so we go up and we are doing the last scene in one take, and we set it all up, and Rick says he’ll be back for me in five minutes, but fifteen minutes go by, and still there was no Rick. So I said, ‘Fuck it,’ and I took my snowmobile, and it was so much fun, and as I’m blasting it around the corner Rick is right in front of me with his snowmobile stuck up to his waist so I had to swerve to avoid him, and I banked it right into a fucking tree going fast! Rick asked me to help pull him out so that we’d ride back together on his snowmobile and then send the picture vehicle guy for my snowmobile. I was like, ‘Fuck that! You pull my ass out, I’m not going back to set like some director with my tail between my fucking legs!’ So we pulled each other out and then went back to set. It was so much fun… and ridiculous.”
Adjourning to the hotel, O’Brien parted with his outlook on the end result: “With Wrong Turn 3, it didn’t look like a two-million-dollar picture; it looked bigger than that, and Wrong Turn 4 will look bigger than that times two I think!”
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