Exclusive: Alicia Conway Talks Rite - Dread Central
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Exclusive: Alicia Conway Talks Rite

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RiteDirector Alicia Conway didn’t always love movies. In fact, growing up most of her interests revolved around the worlds of art, photography, and psychology. It wasn’t until later that Conway realized that the medium of film allowed her to incorporate all the things she loved into one art form. From there, she was hooked.

Conway said that, “When I was growing up, I always loved horror fiction and really screwed up stuff like VC Andrews books. I didn’t really get into the horror film genre until I got into film school in Florida. I got my first taste during a horror marathon with Ben (her husband, Ben Rock, is also a film director), and I just fell in love.

There is something about the aesthetics of horror films that I totally appreciate,” added Conway. “I find something about exploring that part of the human psyche very fascinating.

Conway just recently celebrated her first public short film Rite (review here) being accepted into the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, and it’s been a twelve-year journey for her to get to this milestone in her life.

I made tons of student short films while in school, but trust me, none of them are worth going back and watching now,” said Conway. “I needed to take my time and feel ready to make a film that had a message I felt people could connect with.

Conway added that, “I’ve been to Sundance a few times already – the first time to support friends who worked on The Blair Witch Project, and other times as a ‘civilian.’ But there is nothing that compares to the feeling of having your own project as part of Sundance.

In fact, Conway didn’t even really think she had made it into the competition. In order to make the deadline, Conway and her team submitted a version that hadn’t been finalized so when she got the call, she thought it was a joke.

When asked about how she heard she made Sundance, Conway said, “I was in a bar and I couldn’t even hear the message, so I first thought I heard that I got into Slamdance, which is still pretty cool. Then I went back and listened to the message again, and I realized that it said I had made it into Sundance. I was completely in shock so I kept making the people I was with listen to the message so I could make sure it was really happening.

Alicia Conway's Rite (click for larger image)It was in 2002 that Conway found inspiration to create Rite based on her experience watching the documentary The 8th Day wherein two Jewish couples were deciding whether or not to circumcise their unborn sons.

Conway explained that, “In the documentary, these two young couples were going back and forth about their decision and you had these family members who were challenging their right to ask questions. I ended up getting into an argument with my roommate at the time who couldn’t understand why I was so angry. It seemed ridiculous to me that people wouldn’t have the right to question such a huge decision. People are so used to being told they have to do different things because they are rituals and traditions, and I just think it’s okay from time to time to stop and think about the impact of such decisions.

Conway took that outrage and went to work the original script for Rite in 2002. When she was ready in 2008 to make her first short film, she went back to her script for Rite and prepped it early in the year for filming.

In Rite a young girl faces a very unsettling ritual (writer’s note: no spoilers here – trust me, you must see it to believe it) which, according to Conway is an allegory that also partially stems from her Roman Catholic upbringing.

I’ve always believed that you should be able to examine certain things in your life, religion being one,” discussed Conway. “The idea that there are things in life you cannot question drives me crazy. Growing up, if you asked questions in school (Conway attended a Catholic school from K-12), you’d always get asked ‘Why are you trying to make things difficult by asking questions?’ I think part of faith is the ability to examine something and come to your own conclusions.

Alicia Conway's Rite (click for larger image)I really think certain rituals end up elevated because we never take a look at exactly why we do these things in our lives, and that applies to anything from marriage rituals to just saying ‘god bless you’ when someone sneezes,” Conway added. “Our society gets swept away in the communal feelings behind so many different rituals and customs so I just hope that my film allows people to get something out of it and maybe can open up a dialogue about traditions.

While Conway knows that in order to have been accepted to Sundance there had to be a level of excellence in her work, she feels that most of what was accomplished with Rite had a lot to do with outside forces working in her favor.

Everyone who worked on Rite was amazing; I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” said Conway. “I was more than lucky to have all these people who just stepped up and made my job so easy. Their work really elevated the quality of Rite.

Conway added that, “I actually think that the story for Rite was always there, and somehow I managed to find it and help it along.

Conway is currently in the planning stages for continuing Rite’s festival run this year. She is also hoping to start developing her first feature film soon after.

You can find out more visiting the official Rite website!

Heather Wixson

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Oy! HANNUKAH THE MOVIE Aims to Get Made After Nearly a Decade

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This menorah has nothing to do with the story but, c'mon! It's a freaking T-rex menorah!

As a Jew, seeing holiday-themed horror movies is both a wonderful and bittersweet occasion. I love seeing my friends celebrate the holidays that are near and dear to their hearts but elevated with the viscera, gore, and terror that I so dearly love. But while Christians have films like Black Christmas, Santa’s Slay, Gremlins, Red Christmas, Krampus, etc…, the amount of horror films centered around Jewish holidays is slim to none. Don’t get me wrong here, okay? I’m well aware of population dynamics and, therefore, interest in a given subject/life experience. It’d just be nice to see something like that now and again.

Oh, but what’s this? Looks like writer/director Eben McGarr is ready to move forward on his near decade long project Hanukkah The Movie, a “TORAH-fying new tale of HORAH!” I get it. Sensible chuckle awarded.

Obediah Lazarus is the son of Judah Lazarus, the original Hanukkiller. In 1983 Judah terrorized NY for seven nights and was preparing to sacrifice his eight-year-old son, Obediah, on the eighth night. Judah was convinced it was God’s will, like Abraham and Isaac, to sacrifice his only son to God. Luckily for Obediah, police tracked Judah down and stopped the sacrifice, but Judah was gunned down in the process. Warped by hatred with no guidance, Obediah Lazarus becomes a religious extremist, intolerant of non-Jews, “bad Jews”, and those he perceives to be enemies of the Jewish faith. He is about to unleash eight nights of horror.

A group of Jewish teens are getting ready to party for the holidays but are in for a Festival of Frights. With the help of a wise rabbi, they deduce that the murder victims have violated Judaic law and that their only chance at survival is to embrace their faith.

The film has supposedly taken care of the majority of pre-production, so they’re now on Indiegogo with the goal to raise $100,000. Not a small amount but certainly not an unachievable goal. If a potato salad Kickstarter that wanted $10 ended up with nearly $56,000, I think this has a chance.

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Trailer: Man-Made Ghosts Invade OUR HOUSE This July

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IFC Midnight will be unleashing director Anthony Scott Burns’ feature debut Our House come July 27, 2018. The film stars Thomas Mann and Nicola Peltz and today we have the flick’s spooky trailer for your viewing pleasure.

You can check out the poster to the right and the trailer below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Our House is directed by Anthony Scott Burns from a script written by Nathan Parker and stars Thomas Mann and Nicola Peltz. It’s produced by Lee Kim, Martin Katz, Ulf Israel and Karen Wookey. Executive producers are John Davis, Nick Spicer, Kyle Franke, Derek Dauchy, Noah Segal, Adrian Love, David Kehrl and Reik Moller.

The film hits via IFC Midnight this July 27, 2018.

Synopsis:

The story of a young genius who accidentally invents a device that amplifies the paranormal activity within his family’s house, possibly bringing back the spirits of loved ones — and unleashing things that are far worse.

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PANTHER RIDGE Review – When Your New Job Takes You To Interesting Locations

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Starring Chenara Imrith, Kerry Hempel, Seth Goodfellow

Written by Ryan Swantek

Directed by Ryan Swantek


Director Ryan Swantek’s graphic-take on a young woman unhappy with her looks in White Willow was in my useless opinion, one of the strongest short films to hit the horror genre in quite some time. It was brutal, unflinchingly ruthless to eyeball, and best of all for a first-time directorial effort, there was no apology for what was put before us – let’s venture over to Panther Ridge.

So what comes around in the second-time in the big guy’s chair? Well, when I’d heard that it was a sadistic look into the BDSM scene, I’ll admit I was a bit intrigued (no, I’m not into that stuff, ya kooks) – I’d just honestly hoped for a bit more than what was tossed to me. This particular short film is titled Panther Ridge, and it tells the story of a young lady who is getting a fresh start in a new career – that of a dominatrix, of sorts. As this presentation begins, she’s smack dab in the middle of a dungeon with a very unlucky prisoner and the woman who will be guiding her in her “training.” I’ll tell ya, first days on the job can be stressful, but with the correct forms of relief, you can make it through the day all the while exorcising some pent up demons as well.

Commence brutality upon this poor tied-up fool and the lass roped up across from him, for they know not what lies in store for them next, but rest assured they’ll be making a blood donation whether they want to or not. Unfortunately my self-imposed hype proved to be insurmountable as Swantek’s second time up to the plate resulted (for me, anyway) in a big swing and a miss. What worked in his maiden voyage with Willow was the notion that you were going to witness the repercussions of a tortured soul as she looked in the mirror, whereas this time we’re watching some poor sap get the snot beaten out of him, and I could honestly see the same thing in a number of other productions for a longer stretch of time (if you dig that sort of thing). I’ll await Mr. Swantek’s third production when it’s time, and hopefully it’ll pack more of a sustained punch than this quickie.

  • Panther Ridge
2.5

Summary

Swantek’s sophomore directorial endeavor unfortunately isn’t much more than shock and torture-porn crammed into an abbreviated timeframe – been down this road more than a few times.

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