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Devil’s Due, the latest found footage horror movie to hit the big screen, comes creeping on the heels of the successful Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (which opened big, then faltered). Are audiences ready for another spooky, shaky-cam freak-out?
If likability of the leads has anything to do with it, then it should be #1. Check out our exclusive interview with the actors who frolic in the devil’s playground, Allison Miller and Zack Gilford. They play a newlywed, newly knocked-up couple who find out they picked up more than just a few trinkets on their honeymoon.
DC: I saw a preview of the film at FOX a couple of months ago; it looks pretty scary! You both go through a lot in this film, and it seems to have been pretty grueling from both a physical and an emotional standpoint. Now, when you heard about this found footage horror film, what was your first thought? Did you think it would be so intensive?
Allison Miller: I read the script and thought this is really intriguing and I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I read it. And I know just the fact that, I mean I worked on sitcoms where the schedule was grueling and you’re exhausted at the end of every week, so I always know work is going to be hard. And then when you throw Matt Bettinelli into it, what happens in this movie, you know exactly how long this is going to take and how things are not going to work out like they are supposed to. And you are going to be wiped out.
DC: I’m not usually a fan of found-footage, but it seems like they found some inventive ways of presenting it.
Zach Gilford: Yeah, that was definitely something that we were conscious of the whole time. The first day, we all talked about trying to find ways to put the camera down, or to make interesting shots. Since we’re making a horror movie… it felt kind of logical and believable, in a way, especially when the theme of the movie is obviously not real [to]… portray it in the most real way possible and just make a movie in a much higher level of quality. Towards the end, people are running around and craziness is going on, it’s like “why is this being filmed?” We worked in earlier where there was an adventure camera that can be clipped onto his shirt. Even though obviously it’s not capturing the quality of video that we’re portraying, I think the audience will be like, “Okay, they covered that.”
DC: I don’t know if you’ve done a found-footage film before, have you?
ZG: No, I’ve never done one before.
DC: Did you have any concerns about how that would work out when you first signed on… found footage may be popular and trendy now, but it’s still not entirely embraced. As an actor, did you have any concerns about it?
ZG: No, I liked it. I thought it was really fun. I got to shoot half the movie. I’m really interested in someday directing. I’m really critical of shots, so it’s fun to me to get to have a hand in that. It definitely affected the acting because not only are you doing dialogue with another actor, but you’re also filming as well. It was kind of fun. I definitely am not an actor who cares about being on camera looking good.
DC: Well, you look very comfortable in the film. I have to say it has a very naturalistic feel to it, and the directors did say that you did shoot a lot of the movie, so I’m wondering was that also a consideration when you were brought on to this project, not only could you act, but could you film?
ZG: We tried a technique the first day. We tried to do this thing where we rehearse the scene and I’d shoot it, so they could see what the character would shoot and how the scene would go, and then Tyler, the DP director, would step in and film and I’d stand right behind him, do the scene, and then after a day and a half, they said, “You’re shooting was great. Let’s cut out the middle man.” Literally. I think it helped the movie, because it was more natural and real. A lot of movies are supposed to be someone interacting with someone filming them.
DC: Do you have a DP credit now? (laughs)
ZG: I don’t. I think I’ll have to join a union or something.
DC: So, Allison… I am wondering what it was like because it isn’t the usual thing for your costar to be filming you in a narrative movie, so what was that like?
AM: That was… there was a real learning curve there. I mean, he got thrown into it the first day. We shot each other a lot, and even though it’s a real camera in the other person’s hand, it feels like a prop camera because you’re just not used to it. And you think someone else is catching all of this and then you realize, “Oh wait, no, he really actually is shooting up my nose and that’s what’s going to be in the movie.” So that’s a little different. But it’s hard in some ways just because it’s such an unfamiliar thing. But at the same time it’s a good feeling, especially when we were shooting the honeymoon stuff. It was like, “Oh, we are recording our honeymoon and this is how it would go down,” and so it never felt like shooting a movie; it felt very real.
DC: I think it’s interesting how most really great films are made by auteurs, not a committee. But these guys really are a team. Can you talk a little bit about working with four directors trying to present one collective vision?
ZG: When I first showed up, I was talking to the AD, who I actually worked with before, like, “What’s the deal with these guys? There’s four directors?” He broke it down for me, and it’s like Tyler is the DP and has the biggest say, and then Matt more than the rest works with the acting and gives acting notes. Chad is like the overall producer, but also in terms of making sure everything’s cohesive artistically, and then Justin, he’s the effects guy. That’s his vein, he’s got it down and the other guys have no idea how to do any of it, and that being said, they all chip in. They all have a say in all the stuff, but if you had to say this is their role, those would be it. It’s like they’re the head of that department, but they all are involved in each of those departments. I never saw ego, ever. They set up their company, Radio Silence, with playground rules. If three people agree, and one doesn’t, it’s done. There’s no trying to be, “Well, just hear me out.” Let’s move on, let’s not waste time. If it’s two against two, they have to arm wrestle.
AM: I liked it, too. Because it was, they had delegated positions really. You know one person was giving us notes most of the time. One person is making adjustments to the camera, one person is acting as the go-between with the producers and one is just focusing on the visuals and special effects. It never felt out of control or chaotic; it felt very organized and we knew that [we] had four people to bounce ideas off of so it felt like a collaborative thing. And it was very democratic.
DC: How did the script read, was it pretty scary? I mean, do you think horror fans will really get into this film?
AM: The first time I read the script… it changed a lot to the actual shooting script. Even the first time I read it I was left with a very… I was sort of haunted by it. I read it one night then wenr out to dinner or something and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So it’s just… essentially it’s of someone who is of child-bearing age. Already thinking of those things is intimidating and frightening and then adding on top of it… perhaps this baby death of all things; maybe I don’t want to do that. Maybe that got to me. That’s a scene in the movie and I have not seen it yet, so I don’t know how scary its going to be. But everyone I talk to… and Jeff showed me the trailer; it looks pretty scary.
ZG: I think it’s definitely more suspenseful. You’re off-center for 90 minutes. You know something’s up, something’s wrong, you’re not sure what’s going on exactly, but you know it’s bad. You can tell from the trailer, there’s specific moments that are messed up, creepy and scary. It’s really not until the end of the movie where everything just boils up and falls apart, which I think is fun. I think with movies like this where it’s not realistic, because we’re dealing with possession, it’s much more interesting if you don’t see it happen until the end, because then you leave them feeling like, “Whoa, what?” Then they can leave thinking about it, and thinking, “I wonder what happens next?”
DC: Are you a fan of horror films? Had you seen V/H/S and those movies?
ZG: I saw V/H/S When I saw it, I didn’t know it was a bunch of shorts, and I was watching like, “What? I don’t understand what this movie is.” I was like, “Some of these are really good and some of these are really bad. Did they do all of them? Did they do some of them? What’s going on?” And it wasn’t until two days later, and they explained what V/H/S was. Theirs was one that definitely stands out above the rest, clearly the best short. I liked them, and working with them during the audition process, I really liked the way they direct. I just liked them as people, which really a good indicator of directors.
DC: Tell our readers a little bit about the horror aspect of this film, because of course it’s going to be compared to Rosemary’s Baby.
ZG: I think it really is a modern-day Rosemary’s Baby The difference is the husband’s not in on it at all. It’s a little bit of a role-reversal from Rosemary’s Baby where the husband was a little more concerned and feeling things are off, trying to figure it out.
20th Century Fox’s Devil’s Due, featuring Allison Miller (“Terra Nova”) and Zach Gilford (“Friday Night Lights”), opens in theaters everywhere January 17, 2014. Penned by Lindsay Devlin, it’s directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett (Radio Silence).
After a mysterious, lost night on their honeymoon, a newlywed couple find themselves dealing with an earlier-than-planned pregnancy. While recording everything for posterity, the husband begins to notice odd behavior in his wife that they initially write off to nerves, but as the months pass, it becomes evident that the dark changes to her body and mind have a much more sinister origin.
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