The latest release from Dread Presents is Artik, the story of a serial killer obsessed with comic books and finding a true hero. A gritty example of Southern Gothic, the film addresses issues of addiction, abuse, and poverty. Those with timid sensibilities be warned: Artik goes to some very dark and violent places.
Dread Central was lucky enough to sit down with the film’s writer/director Tom Botchii and Chase Williamson who plays the film’s protagonist. Read about what it was like to simulate torture as well as the film’s deeper messages below.
A comic book obsessed serial killer teaches his son how to get away with a series of brutal murders until the boy befriends a mysterious man who threatens to expose everything.
Dread Central: Tom, you have an IMDB Page but no bio. It’s all rather mysterious! Can you just tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into filmmaking?
Tom Botchii: Yeah, I got into filmmaking by making documentaries, It’s a long story so I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes: I did this project on being homeless and I didn’t realize how much emotion can be conveyed through storytelling. Then I got really into film editing and then I just started falling into directing more and more: Music videos and things like that; working in television here and there. And so that’s how I got into filmmaking: Through making documentaries and trying to capture the stories that were happening around me.
DC: Chase, your IMDB bio says you were in a comedy improve group in college, but most you’ve got a ton of horror in your filmography. How did you go from comedy to horror and what do you like about making horror movies?
Chase Williamson: That’s true. I started in comedy and quickly transitioned into horror, but the two genres aren’t as different as they seem. The stakes are so high in both comedy and in horror.
DC: What were your favorite horror movies growing up?
CW: The movie that scared me growing up was Return to Oz, which I think is actually the scariest movie ever made. It started giving me a lot of warped and demented thoughts growing up, long before I ever saw Michael, Freddy, or Jason.
TB: Return to Oz is sick. I saw Friday the 13th Part 5, the one where they’re at the halfway home for wayward boys. I saw that when I was probably 5-years-old and it all spiraled from there!
DC: How would you defend Artik against someone trying to dismiss it as pointless torture porn?
CW: By torturing them for days!
DC: Chase, there are some gnarly torture scenes in Artik. Was any of that difficult to film?
CW: That chair wasn’t especially easy to get in and out of. Most of the time, you know, it was no big deal, but things could definitely get intense.
DC: Tom, thematically, Artik seems to be about mental illness, poverty, and cycles of abuse. Can you talk about the film’s bigger messages?
TB: I was just tired of seeing the same horror characters on screen. In terms of bigger message, I think people are living in patters, in cycles repeating the things they’re doing without knowing how to break out. Like Chase’s character: He always gravitated towards chaos.
DC: Anything else you’d like to tell me about Artik before I let you go?
TB: If you’re into serial killers and comic books, then I think it’s the perfect project to check out. We tried to do something different and create a totally unique vibe, so definitely expect something different!
You can pick up your copy of Artik on Blu-ray now, HERE.