Continuing our exhaustive coverage of The Descent 2 this week we’re excited to present an exclusive interview with Shauna Macdonald. First coming to the attention of UK viewers in the popular BBC television spy drama “Spooks” where she played the character of Sam Buxton for two series, she was then cast in the leading role of Sarah in Neil Marshall’s The Descent which brought her worldwide acclaim. In addition to reprising her role in the sequel, Macdonald will also soon be seen in forthcoming genre pics The Mutant Chronicles and the big screen remake of Silent Night, Deadly Night.
A thoughtful, softly-spoken subject in person, I caught up with Macdonald on the main stage of The Descent 2 as the crew worked around us busily prepping the next scene of the shoot.
Phil Newton: Hi Shauna, so you’re back for the sequel. Did this come as a big surprise to you?
Shauna McDonald: I was surprised that they were thinking about doing one! I remember when it was first mentioned it to me, this guy next to me I knew he was something to do with the film, as in one of the executive producers or financers – someone you never see – and he said “what do you think about a sequel”? I said “you couldn’t do a sequel, it’s a self-contained piece”, and then it sort of set that idea in my head. Then they properly asked me what I thought and I said “yes, why not, but who’s involved?” I was really cagey about getting involved, I just wanted to know what it would entail and where it was going to go but it was explained to me that it would be the same feeling, be a lot of the same people – we’ve got the wonderful (cinematographer) Sam McCurdy, we’ve got Jon (Harris) who was the editor and is now the director, a lot of the same crew – and I said aaaah. So it’s the same sort of feeling and it’s just taking their stories further and I thought that’s actually going to be quite nice.
PN: I think you said at the time that you believed there was no way out for Sarah at the end of the original film, so how has this been resolved for the sequel?
SM: Well it’s the same day, we start off at the end of the action with her in the caves and she gets out – I don’t want to tell you how she gets out – but she gets out quite dramatically, almost by mistake. Then we find her roaming the roads and she’s taken to hospital, so her journey starts with her coming round in hospital with amnesia. She doesn’t really know what’s going on, she knows who she is, she knows that she’s been down a cave, but she doesn’t really know much above that, she’s completely shut down. She’s also a murder suspect so her role is to help the rescue team find the girls.
PN: I was going to say, how do they persuade her to go back down into the caves, I think that’s the last thing I’d want to do in the circumstances?
SM: Well, they’ve got to find these girls and soon and she just thinks they’ve been involved in some kind of caving accident so she wants to help to find them and it’s not until they’re well and truly down there that she really remembers what’s gone on. She gets flashes of things.
PN: Could you say a little about the scene you’ve been shooting today?
SM: Yes, well, we’ve got to get from one part of the cave to another and this is a scene where it’s the death of a character. We’re doing the stunts just now, which is really challenging.
PN: The original film was very physical, so was it easy to get back into character? Had you continued your climbing and fitness regime in between the films?
SM: After the first film I really got into doing things like triathlons and marathons, stuff like that, but then I had a baby! I’ve got a little one year old, so the whole time I was pregnant I really did slacken off, but I aimed to do the London Marathon in April so I trained up for that and I also did some fighting training just to get myself prepared for being hit and hitting and it was hard work. Sometimes it was really hard getting the motivation because it’s tiring being a mum with a baby who’s gorgeous but doesn’t like to sleep all the time, but you know the incentive was to get back into leggings and a vest top and also I wanted to be good. I remember feeling just awkward with some of the fighting in the first film because I wasn’t prepared and I thought no, don’t have that detracting me, I need to think about my moves, I want to be able to flow with it this time.
PN: Working with Jon who edited the first film, how has that been?
SM: Well, brilliant because he’s got more of an understanding of the first film because he cut it, he made the film – I was merely in it – he made the essence of it with Neil so he’s very much on the same page as me. He’s so calm and so clear and also really open to the actors and coming in and really working through the text and finding the beats in the scene; he’s a real actors’ director.
PN: You got put through so many extremes in the first film, what new challenges have you had to face in this one?
SM: It is pretty extreme! I guess Sarah spirals down in the first film and in this one it’s her ascent back into humanity and everything along the way, what with crawlers and one or two arch-rivals popping up all over the place.
PN: Yes, were you surprised when you found out that Juno was coming back as well?
SM: Yes, I was surprised because it didn’t look good for her, but then again it didn’t look too good for Sarah! I think it’s great that she’s back because the characters are so different, I think that the audience are desperately waiting for them to be reunited to see what happens next.
PN: Of course in this one you’ve got some male characters as well, has that changed the dynamic a lot?
SM: I guess it is a different feeling when you’ve got guys on board, although a lot of the crew from the first film were guys of course, but yes, it’s a different vibe, a different dynamic. The thing is with the first one we all got along so well; the girls have become a huge part of my life, from me getting married to having a baby… Whatever I’ve been doing, whatever they’ve been doing, we’re always in each other’s lives. So when I think of the first one it was like my mates doing it and I was actually really relieved when I discovered it was going to be a mixed cast so that I wouldn’t compare it.
PN: I was going to say, you recently had a reunion with the other girls for a special screening of The Descent in London, so it sounds like you’re all pretty close?
SM: Absolutely, very much so. And it was weird when MyAnna Buring was here in Ealing Studios doing her Lesbian Vampire Killers film! So she’s been around very recently, and then my daughter was one at the weekend and Nora-Jane (Noone) was there for that. They’re very much a part of my life, it’s brilliant.
PN: Has there been any talk of a third film yet or is it too early to say?
SM: It’s sort of in the air but listen, this film was in the air for three years and God (laughs) we’ll start getting grey hairs by the time we’re asked and it’s getting made, so I don’t know.
PN: You’ve also recently worked on The Mutant Chronicles, the Simon Hunter film, can you say anything about that?
SM: That was a weird one for me. It was just one day of filming and I was playing the wife of Sean Pertwee’s character Nathan and it was just this mad scene with Thomas Jane coming in to my little cottage which I have with my daughter and I’m basically waiting to die because everybody’s got a ticket to leave and I don’t have a ticket to get on these rockets that are going to Mars or wherever they’re going. So it was just this weird, quiet scene and apparently that’s one of the still moments of the whole film because it’s all CGI and I really enjoyed doing that. Simon’s great, I’d love to work with him again, I really would, and it’s just a shame I didn’t get to do more.
PN: And what’s next for you after completing this film?
SM: I don’t know, just being a Mum for a while, it’s nice.
Thanks for Shauna for taking the time to chat with us! The Descent 2 is in post-production right now and is set to be released next year!
Next week: Natalie Mendoza
We Need to Stop Our Alarming Obsession With Child Actors
On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the byline “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies”. Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13-years-old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.
Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12-years-old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.
The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all held ourselves accountable.
A cursory search of Browns’ name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.
Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.
Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser Joel Kramer was recently let go from his agency twenty years after supposed events took place. When those who wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.
The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.
Sophie Turner weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:
Damn… seeing fully grown adults wait outside the ‘Stranger Things’ kids’ hotels etc , and then abuse them when they don’t stop for them…
— Sophie Turner (@SophieT) November 6, 2017
Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:
Hey everybody! I don't wanna ex-communicate anyone from this fandom, but if you are for real you will not harass my friends, or co-workers. Ya'll know who you are.
— Finn Wolfhard (@FinnSkata) November 8, 2017
And yet even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body“, “I love the right person bixo ♡“, “Love you finn“, and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.
A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:
hey everybody friendly reminder that millie bobby brown and jacob sartorius are children. remember your relationships in middle school, now imagine if that was broadcasted to the world…
— kevin brown. (@ballinbrown_) January 20, 2018
DVD and Blu-ray Releases: January 23, 2018
After a few weeks of smaller lists, this week should be a welcome breath of fresh air, with 12 pretty solid releases. There are mainly recent films this week, but there are a couple of classics thrown in the mix as well.
Probably our top release of the week, Jigsaw will be hitting shelves on DVD, Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD. I found myself wondering recently if they will still be making films from this franchise when my son (who is a toddler now) is able to get into R-rated movies.
Up next is The Killing Of A Sacred Deer. If you didn’t get your fill of Christmas last year, you can check out this clip for one last holiday hoorah.
In terms of classics, Dario Argento’s Opera will be heading our way as a Blu-ray release from Scorpion Releasing. Additionally, you can check out Robert Englund in 1992’s Dance Macabre, brought to us as part of the Scream Factory collection. Lastly, if you’re a Linda Blair fan, 1987’s Grotesque will be available on DVD this week as well.
I also have to give a nod to Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. I’m not going to say it’s the best zombie movie ever created, but a few years back I happened upon a used DVD copy at a cool book store/café in New Haven, CT. I didn’t go into it expecting anything miraculous, but for a very dated living dead movie it was worth the three dollars it cost me.
Keep checking back each week. We’re going to be seeing an uptick in the quantity of release listings over the next month at least so you won’t want to miss a thing. Pleasant viewing.
Dance Macabre (1992)
A dance instructor brings his dance troupe to Russia for training. What his dancers don’t know, however, is that he has a dual personality–and his hidden personality is a serial killer.
Devil’s Well, The (2017)
Bryan Manley Davis, Chris Viemeister, David Alexander, Kristen Seavey, Anne-Marie Mueschke
Karla Marks mysteriously vanishes while conducting a paranormal investigation with her husband into the Devil’s Well, an underground location reported to be a gateway straight into hell, and the site of ongoing strange phenomenon. A year after her disappearance, a group of investigators go back to uncover the truth about Karla, and are faced with evil forces greater than they ever imagined.
Linda Blair, Tab Hunter, Donna Wilkes
A gang of crazed punks breaks into a typical American family’s vacation home in the mountains and slaughters the entire family, except for one daughter who gets away in nothing but her pajamas. As the gang pursues the girl through the outside elements, they slowly realize that a murderous creature is chasing them all!
Hot Tub Party Massacre (2016)
The sisters of the Delta Omega sorority won a free weekend at a luxurious hotel & spa. They planned on having a fun and steamy weekend. However, things go from steamy to bloody when an escaped serial killer checks in to the hotel and crashes their party. The heat will be on at the Hot Tub Party Massacre!!!
Jigsaw (2017) (Blu-ray + 4K)
Hannah Anderson, Laura Vandervoort, Mandela Van Peebles, Tobin Bell, Brittany Allen
Bodies continue to turn up when the notorious Jigsaw killer returns for the eighth installment of one of the most successful horror franchises in history!
In the latest terrifying installment of the legendary SAW series, law enforcement finds itself chasing the ghost of a man dead for over a decade, embroiled in a diabolical new game that’s only just begun. Has John Kramer, the infamous Jigsaw Killer, returned from the dead to commit a series of murders and remind the world to be grateful for the gift of life? Or is this a trap set by a different killer with designs of their own?
Killing of a Sacred Deer, The (2017)
Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Alicia Silverstone
Steven, a charismatic surgeon, is forced to make an unthinkable sacrifice after his life starts to fall apart, when the behavior of a teenage boy he has taken under his wing turns sinister.
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
Cristina Galbo, Ray Lovelock, Arthur Kennedy
A young couple in love is travelling along the English countryside. While they plan their next stop, a man who has been dead for several days attacks, to be followed shortly thereafter by a full-scale zombie invasion which could very well be a result of the agriculturist’s distribution of ultrasonic radiation. In the end, a cop figures out the countless murders are not the work of the young couple, but the living dead.
Lost Tree, The (2017)
Thomas Ian Nicholas, Michael Madsen, Lacey Chabert, Scott Grimes, Clare Kramer
The Lost Tree is centered around Noah (Nicholas), who is guilt-ridden for the death of his wife. He travels to an isolated cabin in search of peace and isolation. But he soon learns of the dangerous surroundings of the area.
Cristina Marsillach, Ian Charleson, Urbano Barberini, William McNamara, Antonella Vitale
When young opera singer Betty takes over the leading role in an avant-garde presentation of Verdi’s Macbeth, she triggers the madness of a crazed fan who repeatedly forces her to watch the brutal murders of her friends. Will her recurring childhood nightmare hold the key to the identity of this psychopath, or does an even more horrific evil lay waiting in the wings? Legendary horror maestro Dario Argento delivers a savagely stunning thriller featuring some of the most shocking sequences of his entire career.
Planet Dead (2017)
Charles Adames, Joe Debartolo, Raven Oscar Flores, Larry Greene, Emilie Jolie
The world falls into chaos after a rogue scientist unleashes a virus that turns the living and the dead into flesh eating monsters. A Special Forces Team is sent into a growing danger zone to recover the cure from the scientist, but as they enter the hot zone they must seek refuge in a nearby nightclub with a few civilians as they wait for the rescue chopper to arrive. Armed with limited ammo they must battle the ever growing number of once human monsters. Mankind will pay for the nastiness of it’s inhabitance.
Punk Fu Zombie (2017)
Stephane Messier, Xavier Dumontier, Tommy Gaudet, Caroline Danserau-Loiselle, Jonathan Simon
In 2028 a zombie invasion, coupled with a thermonuclear war, plunges the world into a new darkness. Now, in 2048, the so called leader of the original movement has a new nemesis: his son Zack. Trained in kung-fu since his childhood by his robot friend, nothing could prepare the young Zack for the political adventure waiting for him, filled with trials, love, politics and ultra-violence.
Red Krokodil (2012) (Director’s Cut)
Brock Madson, Valerio Cassa, Viktor Karam
Red Krokodil is the story of a man (Brock Madon) addicted to mind numbing drug, Krokodil. He suddenly finds himself alone in a post-nuclear city similar to Chernobyl. His physical decay, caused by the massive intake of drugs, is mirrored in his inner world, as reality mixes with hallucinations. The breakup of the body that this drug causes, is sever in it’s graphic and yet, slow destruction while he is slowly falling into madness as his addictions to the drug, runs out of control. This movie deals with many themes, from the environment to the use of drugs, but the story is just an excuse that director Domiziano Cristopharo uses to focus on a psychological condition that brings a total detachment from oneself and from the surrounding world. A dark trip that shows no way out.
Rapid Eye Movement Trailer Forces You To Stay Awake
I would really love to go on vacation to New York City, so I’m damn jealous of the cast and crew of the upcoming movie Rapid Eye Movement, which was filmed almost exclusively in Times Square. In the film, a radio DJ is forced to stay awake for over eleven days after being threatened by a deranged caller, which begins to have serious effects on both his physical and mental well-being.
Rapid Eye Movement is directed by Peter Bishai and stars Francois Arnaud, Reiko Aylesworth, Chloe Brooks, Godfrey, Jamie Jackson, David Rhodes, Stelio Savante and Danny Ramirez. We don’t yet know of a release date, although we are happy to share the trailer along with two stills below.
Rapid Eye Movement Official Synopsis
In the heart of Times Square, radio DJ Rick Weider is driven to the edge of insanity as he tries to break the 11-day world record for staying awake. The stakes rise considerably when a deranged caller, who wants Rick to raise $5 million for charity, threatens to kill him unless he succeeds. With his life on the line, Rick unravels physically, emotionally and mentally, forced to confront his own demons while trying to outplay his seemingly powerful and unbeatable enemy.
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