Exclusive Interview: Neil Marshall Talks THE DESCENT, HELLBOY & Horror-Themed Pop-Up Bar

Neil Marshall is a man of many tastes. Having directed films and TV shows all across the board, the filmmaker has done it all. From the claustrophobic as all hell film The Descent, the werewolf classic Dog Soldiers all the way to pirates in TV’s Black Sails, Marshall has shown that he is never content to stick to one thing. With that mentality in mind, the filmmaker is set to team up with Kraken Rum for a terror-filled horror experience, with Kraken Screamfest: The Director’s Cut, a new bar pop-up set to be launched in London and Dublin this Halloween ‪on Thursday, October 31st and ‪Friday, November 1st. Check out the event’s trailer below.

A unique, immersive bar, where he will mixing inspiration from horror fan fiction and drawing on his own psychological thrillers to create an experience like no other. Each technique designed to traditionally get the heart pound in a scary film, from the background and plot, characters and creatures, set and decor, to sounds and dramatic, jump out of your seat, hide behind your hands moments will come from inner workings of Neil’s mind – so be afraid, be very afraid….

Purchase tickets to attend, HERE.

We thought we’d reach out to Marshall to chat about the Director’s Cut experience, as well as his love of a good Gin and Tonic. Read on!

Dread Central: Jumping right in, Screamfest: The Director’s Cut has such potential, a very limitless idea. What brought this project on and into fruition?

Neil Marshall: Kraken contacted me kind of out of the blue. I had no idea they were planning on doing something like this, but they contacted me a couple of months ago actually, with this idea of doing this Director’s Cut thing. I was instantly intrigued. I had never done anything like that and it combined two things I really love: spending time in bars and scaring the shit out of people [Laughs]. It seemed obvious to me, it was a great challenge. It was very appealing because I had never done any theater stuff or live interactive stuff before. At the same time, though, it’s also close to what I have done before: Creating characters, building a story and so on, but this just doesn’t have any cameras around. This is putting the audience inside of the story, instead of having them experience it on the screen.

DC: What makes a lot of your work so special is how easy it is to get lost in the worlds and stories you create. In The Descent, it was easy to feel that claustrophobic feeling and for good reason, the film was very much about having to come to terms with trauma without escaping it. The idea of taking that knack for engulfing one’s audience and making it interactive this time seems like a fun challenge, to say the least.

NM: Breaking that wall of a screen and actually putting them into the environment was an interesting concept and a great challenge to take on. I think world-building is a big part of all my films. Trying to authentically create that environment, whether it be in caves or a house or even ancient Britain. Taking that and injecting the audience inside of that environment is important, so with this, I did the same, but we removed the wall and allowed the audience to be a part of it.

DC: Kraken seems to be the perfect company to do something like this, that drink is no joke.

NM: They’re being great, just excellent collaborators. They’re not shy about wanting to scare people; they wanted to create something that would terrify people, which is great for me because I don’t like to hold back with that stuff. Like you said, they basically keep a monster in the bottle with that drink.

DC: I believe it was The Wrap (link) that ran a piece regarding possible studio interference with your vision of Hellboy. We won’t get too much into that, but after that experience, was doing something like Screamfest: Director’s Cut perhaps enticing for you, given that you’d be able to have complete control over something? I’m sure it was something you welcomed.

NM: [Laughs] Tell me about it… This and the new film I’ve done (The Reckoning) were both excited because I had that creative freedom again. It was a breath of fresh air after an experience like that. Getting back to creating your own demons in a way is the best way to go.  It’s been uplifting and has really recharged my creative batteries.

DC: You mentioned your love for spending time in bars, so we have to ask: what is your current signature drink?

NM: At the moment, maybe because I’m in L.A. and all, I’m loving a good Gin and Tonic. I also enjoy a Rum and Coke as well. I used to be a big lager drinker and always was a big fan of Newcastle Ale because it was from my home town.

DC: You brought a new spin on the mythology of pirates in Black Sails and between that, your TV work on Game of Thrones, Hannibal as well as your various films, you’ve always been a director who never feels comfortable sticking to one genre or medium. You’ve done TV, you’ve done films and now you’ve done interactive experiences. What are you hoping to do next?

NM: I haven’t gotten to do my big action/adventure movie yet, my Indiana Jones-like movie. What’s interesting is that that is what got me started on all of this and made me want to do movies. I have roots in horror and in television now as well, but I really want to do my big action/adventure movie…which is still on the cards. I’ve really loved bouncing between genres. I’ve done full-on horror to history stuff all the way to sci-fi kind of things. I’ve done pirates to Hannibal [Laughs]. I hadn’t done anything western-like until I did Westworld. I don’t want to be just a horror guy, I like doing things differently each time.

DC: John Constantine is one of my favorite characters of all time and your particular take on the character for the Constantine TV series was such a fun one. Even with the show being over, it’s great to see your take on the character live on in the DC animated films as well on TV. Would you ever helm more of Constantine or has it come and gone for you?

NM: I loved creating the Constantine show, but I think we were doomed by having it on network TV. We weren’t able to go full Constantine with the character, being a chain smoker and various other things like that. It felt held back by that stuff, but I’m so happy that the character, especially since it’s still played by Matt [Ryan], has been given a second life on the animated films. He’s also been on Arrow and is a semi-regular on Legend of Tomorrow. It’s our incarnation of the character and that makes me intensely proud.



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