The Den Director Zachary Donohue Talks Voyeurism, Found Footage, and Webcams - Dread Central
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The Den Director Zachary Donohue Talks Voyeurism, Found Footage, and Webcams

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The Den Director Zachary Donohue Talks Voyeurism, Found Footage and WebcamsThe film The Den (review) brings a whole new, and much-needed, twist to the found-footage sub-genre of horror. Recently director and co-writer Zachary Donohue sat down with Dread Central to talk about his film.

For starters, Donohue discussed what he hoped to convey to the audience with The Den. “This is unlike any found footage movie you’ve ever seen,” he said. “We wanted to create a movie that felt like you were on your own computer screen.”

He added, “We wanted to convey this voyeuristic sense that maybe you shouldn’t be watching this movie because you’re privy to this character’s emails, her chats. We really just wanted to tap into that idea of voyeurism.”

But more than just peeping in on someone’s life, Donohue also wanted The Den to portray the internet as it actually exists. “We wanted to create a funhouse,” he said. “This is a movie about the internet, and there’s a lot of weird and wild stuff out there. We wanted to generate a lot of scares but say something about the internet right now and present a kinda funny commentary about that. There are some moments in the movie where you should laugh and find [them] funny, not just scary.”

The inspiration for the film came from an experience Donohue’s writing partner, Lauren Thompson, had that was reenacted quite specifically in the film. “Lauren and I both moved together to LA, and she got a job working for this chat roulette site,” Donohue said. “She would go around and poll people about their opinions on the site. So it was a noble cause, but everyone who was on the site was kind of a troll and they would either divert the conversation or just be really weird and silly. She came across this still image of a girl and had a really weird text conversation with her saying, ‘Hey, why don’t you turn your webcam on? It’s a little creepy talking to this disembodied voice…’ Well, she was typing to it so it wasn’t a voice. She was like, ‘This is really weird.’ So we just started playing scenarios out in our heads like, ‘Hey, what if this is a guy, or what if somebody turned on the camera and you witnessed a murder?’ So we really liked that setup. From there we presented it in a traditional slasher formula. And I’ve always been a big horror guy since I was a kid and always wanted to make a movie like Dario Argento or in the vein of Halloween or The Burning.”

Of course the unique thing about The Den is basically the entire film appears to be footage captured on webcams. This obviously would present Donohue with some challenges he wouldn’t get if filming in a more traditional style. He spoke about how the webcam approach affected his work. “When we wrote our first draft, we realized a lot of the scares were sort of the same so we had to generate different things as opposed to just a creepy guy showing up behind the girl’s shoulder,” Donohue said. “A lot of thought went into how we should craft interesting moments that are scary that feel like a traditional horror movie with angles and cutaways. We also wanted to see how we could use the limitations of the webcams to our advantage. It’s pretty scary that a lot of times you can’t see what’s off-frame, and we really wanted to play around with all of the best scenarios for scares with those limitations.”

And although it isn’t exactly a blood-soaked film, The Den does have some impressive effects. “We did manage to get a few good gags in, but at the end of the day, it was really how can we pull off these violent acts while servicing the story,” Donohue said. “It’s more about the story; how does the gore serve the story and feel real as opposed to a regular slasher where Jason cuts someone’s head off and it’s all about that.”

Finally, Donohue spoke about Melanie Papalia. She is the lead actress and the face of The Den. There aren’t many moments in the movie without Papalia in them so it was important to get just the right actress to play the part of Elizabeth Benton. “The casting audition was very intense because really the movie is all Elizabeth,” Donohue said. “So with Melanie we wanted to see if she was interesting when she’s not doing much and when she’s big, when the scares are happening, can she scream well. That’s always important for these kinds of movies. But also, does she bring that intensity that’s going to put the audience on the edge of their seats? I’m very delighted that she took the leap of faith because there were a lot of scenes we were doing where it was very bizarre and unnatural. My direction would be like, ‘Eyes to the left and imagine there’s a thing on the side of the screen. Now move your eyes to the right.’ A lot of small things that, when we were done, she’d be asking, ‘Was that right?’ I’d be able to tell her that it was going to look great, and she’d be really excited about it. Melanie is a very cool person, and she loves horror movies and has always wanted to be in one. It was great working with her because we were both kind of starting out. I’m happy we did this together.”

From director Zach Donohue comes The Den, starring Melanie Papalia, Adam Shapiro, David Schlactenhaufen, and Matt Riedy.

Look for it from IFC Midnight in select theaters and on VOD on Friday, March 14th, 2014.

Synopsis
After receiving a grant for her graduate thesis, Elizabeth Benton (Papalia) logs on to a video chat site known as THE DEN on a mission to explore the habits of its users. During one of her random video chats, Elizabeth watches in horror as a teenage girl is gruesomely murdered in front of her webcam. While the police dismiss it as a viral prank, Elizabeth believes what she saw is real and takes it upon herself to find the truth.

Her life quickly spirals out of control as she gets pulled deeper into the darkest recesses of the internet. And eventually Elizabeth finds herself trapped in a twisted game in which she and her loved ones are targeted for the same grisly fate as the first victim.

The Den

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Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31

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The last time we gave you guys word on the upcoming Halloween horror anthology 10/31 was to bring you the knock-out exclusive official poster, which you can peep to your left (click for a higher-res version).

The new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S and Creepshow joins an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

The film’s stories are directed by the likes of Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), Zane Hershberger (Devilution), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Brett DeJager (Bonejangles) and Rocky Gray making his directing debut.

This past weekend we were able to catch up with producer-director Rocky Gray and ask him a few choice questions about the anticipated upcoming anthology film.

You can check out our quick interview below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are to check out 10/31 in the comments below!

Dread Central: How is the film coming along?

Rocky Gray: The film is now completed and we are getting the perks out to our Indiegogo backers. The backers and Death By Festival got to see the first cut of the film in October and they loved it so we’re very excited to get the film out to everyone else very soon.

DC: What can expect from this anthology?

RG: Expect to have a lot of Halloween themed fun. Each segment has its own flavor so the pacing and the look change throughout the film. With masked killers, vampires, scarecrows, tricksters and old hags there’s something for everyone.

DC: Will there be a sequel?

RG: If there was a demand for it we would make it happen!

Sounds good to us. Thanks for chatting with us, Rocky!

You can become a fan of the film on Facebook HERE.

SYNOPSIS:
A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters. There’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre from the creators of The Barn and Volumes of Blood.

Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2), two-time Grammy-winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence. A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

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The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3

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I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the first season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” to tell you the truth. That said, I absolutely loved the second season (read our reviews HERE).

It is with this in mind that we are all looking forward to “Stranger Things 3”.

Recently Deadline reported that at Vulture Festival LA the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Reiser, and Linnea Berthelsen talked about season two and teased season three.

“We are [in] very early days on season three, and we’re still figuring it out,” Ross Duffer said, before taking a beat, then adding: “I probably wasn’t supposed to say that. That’s not official; that wasn’t an official announcement — we’re just working on it, just for our own amusement… for fun!”

Whatever.

We all know at this point that there is going to be a “Stranger Things 3” and that The Duffer Brothers will one day begin working on it. Don’t worry so much, Ross Duffer.

After all, your brother already let us know that season three will begin after a time jump:

“Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t,” says Matt Duffer. “Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.”

What did you think of “Stranger Things 2”? Did you dig it more (or less) than season one? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

“Stranger Things 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.

Synopsis:
It’s 1984, and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down, but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter

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The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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