One of the bigger surprises to come along recently was the announcement that there’s a new Re-Animator film in the works set for release some time in 2017, starring genre stalwarts Brad Dourif and Lin Shaye. Ever since the announcement of Re-Animator: Evolution we’ve been all over it like white on rice, so we decided to track down its writer and director Serge Levin for more information about the project and his other upcoming movies.
Levin’s road to the entertainment industry has been an interesting one, but filmmaking and other creative endeavours have been his passion since he was a kid. Now with an array of diverse genre projects starring fan favorites on the way, he’s a filmmaker worth keeping an eye on. The idea of his adaptation of Re-Animator movie might not be sitting too well with every horror purist out there, but with an upcoming film starring Michael Ironside set to be released before the end of the year, we don’t have long to wait to see what he’s capable of.
Dread Central: I read on your website that you’re a former investment banker. What made you decide to pursue a career in making movies?
Serge Levin: First off, my creative pursuits have always lingered in the shadows. Ever since I was a young boy I was fascinated with the world of film; the craft that it takes to create such immersive experiences. I began to experiment with old VHS cameras, shooting little stories and then composing music to be dubbed later in the process. I loved the process and knew that some day I would be doing this on a much bigger scale.
Second, it wasn’t a direct transition from the financial industry into film. I left investment banking in 2004 and was involved with various private and public equity funds, as a portfolio manager, and then later went on to manage a retail and construction concern. All of these experiences served as building blocks for me to merge into the entertainment business at a more mature level.
DC: What are some of your favourite horror films?
SL: In no particular order: Possession by Andrzej Zulawski; Videodrome by David Cronenberg; Repulsion by Roman Polanski; and Jacob’s Ladder by Adrian Lyne.
DC: One of the biggest stories in the horror community of late is your upcoming film, Re-Animator: Evolution, which promises to be more faithful to Lovecraft’s short story. What inspired you to adapt this story in particular?
SL: The science behind the story was the main driver. As a human race, we’re on the cusp of discovering new ways to enhance our physiology, longevity, and even incorporating cyber biology. The innovative trend will only grow as we become more conscious of our own strengths as a species and learn how to harness the technology we constantly evolve.
DC: You mentioned that this movie will be “thought provoking’’ and “scientific.’’ Will you be retaining the satirical elements of the source material or are you taking it in another direction?
SL: I would like to stay true to theme of the original work but definitely aim to take this into a much darker and more believable realm. Behind the satire there were really profound existential questions that I would like to bring forth even more.
DC: Many are calling this movie a remake and, as such, a lot of fans of the original film series are upset. Is there anything you’d like to say to that might ease their worries?
SL: As a fan of the original film I don’t feel upset so I’m sure once the audience learns more about the project, this initial almost default reaction to all remakes, will ease. Our goal is not to create an exact replica that is set in modern times. We’re using the source material and creating something that’s both true to the original but unique as a standalone Re-Animator movie.
DC: Having stars like Lin Shaye and Brad Dourif attached to the project already shows you mean business. Can you tell us more about your casting process?
SL: It’s a process that will continue to evolve. We will make sure to have iconic stars that fit the characters’ personalities and traits. I have worked with Lin Shaye on a project called Jack Goes Home and she is a super talented and very versatile actress.
DC: The franchise is synonymous with Jeffrey Combs, Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon, and you’ve not ruled out their involvement down the line in some capacity. Are there current plans to approach them, or is more of a case of the door being open to them should they want to be a part of it?
SL: We are always open to collaboration as long as it adds value to our story and movie product as a whole. It would be a great pleasure to work with Mr. Combs, Mr. Yuzna, and Mr. Gordon. We are not discounting anything at this time.
DC: Your film Abysm, starring the iconic Michael Ironside, is currently in post-production. What can you tell us about the project and what was it like working with a genre icon? Furthermore, when do we get to see it?
SL: Abysm is a very personal project since it tackles the subject of emotions. I always felt that our society instils a notion that one’s emotions have to be suppressed in one form or another. Showing your feelings is almost a crime nowadays. Antidepressants seem to be a convenient solution and the number of people being prescribed these emotion suppressors is staggering. I believe there’s something wrong with this paradigm.
I also weaved in the inseparable bond between emotions and memories. One can skew the recollection of events by simply feeling about it in a different way. Abysm portrays all of this in a progressively haunting and at times horrific way. As Michael Ironside’s character says: “Reality is just a reflection of our minds”. Imagine what can happen if the capacity to project such reflection is augmented.
Working with Michael Ironside was a real treat. Despite his iconic status and legendary career, Michael was extremely generous, kind, and open with everyone on set. You learn so much by just observing and listening to him.
Abysm is in its latest stages of VFX post-production and I expect to have it out by the end of 2016.
DC: Another film you have coming up is Superstrata starring Paz de la Huerta and Alex Veadov. Can you tell us more about that one?
SL: Superstrata is yet another very personal project of mine. I realize that I sound like a broken record but yes, every project that I write has my own experiences, thoughts, memories grafted onto the characters and the plot. I couldn’t have it any other way.
It’s a science fiction drama that’s firmly rooted in quantum physics and our emerging ability to understand the complexity of our universe – or multiverse. We have begun principal photography on the 1st of October 2016 and have a 5 week shooting schedule.
DC: Do you have any other projects in the pipeline you can tell us about?
SL: I am working with my super talented co-writing partner Joe Tripician to package a film called War on War. It’s about a former Israeli special operations officer who tracks a clandestine crime organization that’s fortified in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest. It’s a fast paced revenge story with a stern existential message: how do we go about stopping or preventing wars that seem to be plaguing our planet these days.
Many more scripts on the way. Thank you,