Douglas Buck, director of Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America and the Sisters remake, is less than confident in mankind’s ongoing destructive relationship with mother earth. His in-the-works opus The Broken Imago has the earmarks of a terrifying new entry in a subgenre of increasing relevance, the Eco-Horror film. The Broken Imago is about a deadly virus of apocalyptic proportions that wipes pretty much everyone off the face of the Earth, leaving in its wake an evolutionary transformation that will make it very difficult for man to ever devolve back into what we collectively represent in these modern, environmentally destructive times.
Mass scale global hysteria is not specifically what Douglas Buck is most interested in capturing – Imago offers a more myopic apocalypse through how things play out in a remote Catholic boarding school in the jungle. The school is one of the last bastions unaffected by the virus, but when it hits, the virus seems strangely selective in its effects. The teachers don’t respond well to the infection to say the least, while the young students, rather than dropping like flies, seem to be undergoing some kind of bizarre transformation.
That’s the bare bones I could get out of Douglas Buck and Fabrice Lambot on the film; it’s definitely an intriguing premise. My first thought was that it must be heavily influenced by Lord of the Flies. When asked about what he was drawing from in creating such a concept, Buck was quick to point out even though this idea has been germinating in his mind for close to a decade, The Broken Imago could end up existing in a parallel thematic realm to Larry Fessenden’s works like Wendigo and The Last Winter. More specifically, both Buck and Lambot told me that The Broken Imago drew a good bit of inspiration from the 1976 Spanish film Quién puede matar a un niño (a.k.a. Who Can Kill a Child, a.k.a. Island of the Damned).
France’s Metaluna productions has taken The Broken Imago on and is fighting hard to bring it to a screen near you. Metaluna is based out of France and co-owned by Fabrice Lambot and Jean-Pierre Putters. It’s a company hardly uninitiated in the world of genre films. They produced the Fabrice Lambot-helmed “>Dying God (review) last year along with a couple of Lambot’s other genre shorts prior to that. You can visit official Metaluna site to learn more.
Douglas Buck met Fabrice Lambot back when Lambot had a sci-fi collector’s store in Paris. The store is sadly gone now, but the friendship has persisted, leading several years down the road to the pair of them collaborating to bring Buck’s long-time dream project to life.
They’ve just finished shooting the teaser trailer for The Broken Imago in Argentina, with Montreal’s Karim Hussain doing the cinematography. As you can see from the images here, it looks pretty cool. Composer David Kristian, whom both Hussain and Buck have worked with extensively in the past, is on board to do the musical score for The Broken Imago. Douglas’s long-time producer Rita Romagnino was on board for the teaser trailer shoot as well, making for a very concentrated Montreal presence on the project.
Shooting in a jungle in Argentina was not without its logistic challenges. The crew faced a few interesting hurdles and distractions, quicksand being one of them. “We set up an altar that the children of The Broken Imago had created. It was in the middle of quicksand. As we’re talking about how to approach the shoot we look over and there’s Karim getting sucked in.” Karim escaped unscathed, which is lucky because Buck praises the footage in this teaser trailer as being Karim’s most beautiful cinematography to date.
Horror films with some kind of social or political angle are Douglas Buck’s preferred corner of the genre. His new film draws from the George Romero style of observing the fall of man and how desperate circumstances turn us all against one another. But it’s not just the inherent hostility of man bringing mass ruin – it’s coupled with the revolt of the earth. As Buck said, “The story has elements of the environment treating man like the body treats cancer. It emits antibiotics or destructive antidotes to fight off and remove these kinds of things.”
Thematically, the term “Imago” is an old Latin term that has multiple meanings, anything from insect metamorphosis to how children create idealized versions of their parents in their minds. Buck didn’t specify which meaning is closest to the heart of the story in his film, but the title obviously alludes to a break in such a phenomenon and what happens as a result.
So, it all seems quite heady, and yes, these gentlemen are keeping things under fairly tight wraps at the moment as far as what they’ll give away about the story. But when pressed on whether or not it was a horror film or some kind of atmospheric thriller thing, both Douglas and Fabrice chimed in immediately. “It is a horror film numero-uno. It’s got the elements of a straight genre piece more than anything I’ve done before,” Douglas said. “Yes, there will be a slow creepy build-up, but when the shit hits the fan, rest assured; there is going to be mayhem. A lot of human violence, and virus violence!”
Could that be the coining of a new genre right there? “Virus-Violence”? We’ll see. Fabrice echoed Doug’s sentiments, saying we’re in for something extremely dark, disturbing, creepy, and shocking.
At Dread Central, we’ll be waiting with bated breath to get a glimpse of this teaser trailer … that is, unless there’s an apocalyptic virus outbreak between now and then. If that’s the case, we’ll hopefully see any surviving readers of this article at The Broken Imago premiere in your hazard suits and gas masks!
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