CJ Thomason stars alongside Monica Keena and Edward Furlong in the new survival horror film Aftermath. Recently Thomason sat down with Dread Central to discuss his feelings about the movie.
“Aftermath is people surviving, doing everything they can to survive a nuclear fallout,” Thomason said. “It’s like it would probably happen in real life. They don’t know why it’s happening. They don’t know who attacked.”
He added, “They don’t know the extent of the attack, and when it comes down to it, the movie is literally just focused on them surviving because that’s where we would be. We’re not going to have our iPhones updating us. We’re not going to have our news media informing us… If you’re lucky enough to be around a ham radio, you’ll probably know a little bit of information. But it’s a claustrophobic look at the survival of nuclear war.”
Thomason discussed how the subject matter of Aftermath preys on some true terrors. “What I’m most excited to see is if people recognize that a horror film isn’t necessarily a zombie or monster movie,” Thomason said. “In actuality, sometimes it’s just the potential horrors of life. And I like those movies, like The Vanishing, where you just have this creepy serial killer out there doing things that are mind-blowingly ridiculous and that’s scary because that exists. I’m afraid of the possible real monster under the bed, not the fake one. This is one of those situations where there really is a monster under your bed, and Aftermath is the story of it.”
Viewers of Aftermath may find themselves reminded of Night of the Living Dead. Thomason spoke on the similarities. “I think that’s kind of bred in us by now when it comes to storytelling,” Thomason said. “You get these archetype characters that are in Night of the Living Dead. They’re kind of in several other survival films. It wasn’t necessarily a conversation we had, but I’m sure the writer of the film was influenced by zombie films a lot. Zombie movies are great because it is a survival story and that’s the best aspect of it. It’s a survival story where all of a sudden the enemy is everywhere and this is the same thing in Aftermath. The enemy is everywhere. There is nuclear fallout happening everywhere and that same survival archetype grows out of that as it would in a zombie film.”
So how is it to film a gritty survival horror film? “Horrible, man,” Thomason said. “The people were great. The filmmakers were amazing. New Orleans is such a fun city to be in. But I’m not gonna lie. Those were 10-, 12-hour days performing these not fun scenes. It’s not fun performing these scenes It’s not fun doing survival scenes in the same set every day for weeks and weeks and weeks and months. It was intense. But everyone has fun in different ways and we definitely enjoyed the experience. But the work was intense.”
Thomason was incredibly impressed by his Aftermath co-stars and spoke lovingly about them. “I started thinking about it and you’ve got guys like Ross Britt,” Thomason said. “I filmed The Monkey’s Paw in New Orleans also and I got Ross Britt onto that movie because he’s such a talent. He plays the off-kilter kid with the glasses and I watched him do a table read for this movie and I’m thinking, ‘What is this guy doing?’ The guy is six-feet tall and kind of athletic and I’m thinking, ‘What is he doing?’ But then you see him with his character and it’s so great. He’s such a theatrical actor that it was fun to work with him. Edward Furlong brings this raw mentality to his craft and Monica Keena is someone who has a huge soldier mentality in her life. Monica has an ability of acting like nothing is bothering her and everything is okay even though you can tell that she is a very sensitive individual and there are all kinds of bad things going on. That kind of character is always fun to work with and she brought that to her role.”
He continued speaking on the talented individuals in the cast. “Naturally, what I love about making films is that when you get to a set, you’re not working with people who spend their lives in a cubicle,” Thomason said. “You’re working with people that have sacrificed a lot for a craft and they’re constantly following their intuition and trusting their instincts and that just naturally rounds you out to an interesting individual. I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed everyone on the set.”
And, although this is a non-traditional horror movie. Thomason did indeed still get into the make-up chair. “That is my favorite part of movie-making,” Thomason said. “When you get to look in the mirror and want to throw up looking at yourself. That’s my favorite. It’s just so easy whenever you look like that. When you’re walking off set and people look at you like, ‘Don’t touch me. You look like a freak!,’ that’s the world’s greatest moment, mainly because you can take the make-up off at the end of the day. But it’s so easy to perform. It’s just like putting on your wardrobe, but this is like a wardrobe times 10 when it comes to power. It’s really empowering. On top of everything, it was my honeymoon. We had lost our make-up girl for the last few days, so rather than having to continually do the balding, I just kept it in for three or four days so I wouldn’t have to keep doing it and worry about continuity. So I told them just keep it in. So my wife, on her honeymoon, had to deal with the fact that her husband looked like a nightmare.”
There are more than a few toe-curling moments in the movie and Thomason spoke on them. “Those scenes were really intense,” he said. “Those were super intense scenes. I remember getting ready to shoot one particular scene and just dreading it all day because you don’t want to watch this character fall. Thinking about it right now makes me sick to my stomach. I didn’t know that character as an actor performing a role. You get to know the character and it’s so sad to see this creature that literally can’t handle this intensity. And that’s so true, man. That is so true. This is one of those situations in which so many of us would crumble in a way we never thought possible. Not everyone is going to be murdered. Some people are going to be eaten from the inside out. And this movie showed characters eaten from the inside out.”
Directed by Peter Engert, the film also stars William Baldwin and Andre Royo. Look for it on Blu-ray/DVD August 26th.
When the devastating horror of a nuclear apocalypse becomes a reality, nine strangers find themselves holed up together in a farmhouse cellar. These would-be survivors are faced with dwindling supplies, radioactive air, and the greatest threat of all: the hordes of zombie-like refugees who want in.
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