Trailers are an under-appreciated art form insofar that many times they’re seen as vehicles for showing footage, explaining films away, or showing their hand about what moviegoers can expect. Foreign, domestic, independent, big budget: What better way to hone your skills as a thoughtful moviegoer than by deconstructing these little pieces of advertising? This week we find our own Personal Jesus, trigger warning: we power through sexual abuse, talk about our sweet tattoos, get touched by Big Bird and dig deep into a real-life conspiracy.
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ABCs of Death

The horror anthology V/H/S did well enough that a sequel went into production pretty fast, and you can already see the red-band trailer for V/H/S/2 from Magnet. Now another Magnet-released anthology, The ABCs of Death, is also going to be followed by a sequel.

The hook for The ABCs of Death was that the film featured 25 directors (and a 26th crowd-sourced entry) making short films based around a single letter. The sequel will take the same approach, and as with the first film the hook isn’t the concept, but the people bringing it to life. The new crew includes animator Bill Plympton, Day of the Beast and The Last Circus director Álex de la Iglesia, and Room 237 director Rodney Ascher. More participants in the gruesome sequel are listed below. Read More »

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Next month, one of my favorite independent and more outspoken directors of late, Ti West, will begin shooting a follow-up to last year’s breakout hit about Satanic Panic The House of The Devil. Filming on location in Connecticut (where THotD was also shot) and entitled The Innkeepers, the film is said to follow “the last two staffers at a hotel that’s going out of business”—a hotel that may have ghostly occupants. When I previously emailed West to see if The Shining would be an influence and whether the film addresses “reality” tv shows like Ghost Hunters, he wrote back: “This movie incorporates and comments on the trend of those type shows etc. but is also a very classic ghost story. I’m psyched. I think it blends the classic ghost story style with a solid modern twist.  It will be really fun, fresh and scary.”

In a new chat with FearNet at SXSW, where West was speaking on a horror panel, he dished out more tidbits on the project. The haunted hotel that’s central to the story is actually the same hotel he and his crew stayed at while making THotD, and the plot will be informed by “a lot of [his] experiences there.” Similar to what he shared with /Film, West goes on to say The Innkeepers will be scarier than THotD, will also have a healthy number of jokes, and will “definitely be more commercial than THotD” but with an “indie sensibility that will make it unique.”

More details below. And we’ll go ahead and tack on a NSFW list of the top five things we dig about West’s Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever, the super gory straight-to-DVD sequel he has disowned following creative differences with Lionsgate…

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Ti West to Direct The Innkeepers

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Following on from House of the Devil, his film about a young hipster girl very, very slowly walking up and down corridors and eventually crossing paths with possible ‘Special Guest Star’ devil worshippers, it seems that Ti West is to make another “truly terrifying” picture. One man’s tedium is another man’s terror, I suppose.

Variety report that West’s film The Innkeepers will be about “the last two staffers of a haunted hotel that’s going out of business”. At least they’ll have each other to talk to.

Larry Fessenden‘s Glass Eye Pix are backing the film, as they did House of the Devil, The Roost and Trigger Man.

orphanage_1

An English-language remake of Juan Antonio Bayona’s fantastic horror film The Orphanage has been in the works since that film’s release two years ago. At first, we reported that producer Guillermo del Toro had chosen Wendigo director Larry Fessenden to helm the project, but those plans fell apart a few months after they were announced. Now we’ve learned that Mothman Prophecies and Arlington Road director Mark Pellington has been tasked to direct the remake.

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The Orphanage Remake Needs a New Director

orphanage_1

When I first saw The Orphanage at TIFF ’07, the moment the credits rolled I started thinking about the remake. That’s lame, yes, since there was plenty of good stuff to think about in the movie. It wasn’t that I was desperate to see the film remade. But I could see how a remake might do a few things differently, and possibly even better. With Guillermo del Toro as exec producer and the general nature of the film it seemed like one that would immediately hit the remake mill, much like Let the Right One In.

Indeed, that’s what happened, and as of August Wendigo director Larry Fessenden was attached to direct the US version. Now he says he’s off the project. Read More »

ti-west

When 2009 is reflected on later, it won’t be the clunky, predictable Oscar-bait pics that standout but rather a new crop of outspoken auteurs that came into their own in ’09 with stealthy, highly confident fare. A charged determination and can’t-fail idealism is instilled in these directors that makes the filmmaking process once again exciting and truly daring: A young man’s game. Writer/director, Ti West, is one such auteur. Not yet 30 years of age, West has crafted a horror film with an attention to detail, sex appeal, color and sound so as to evoke the paranoid trips of early Roman Polanski and the vintage, pop-darkly appreciation of early Richard Linklater and Paul Thomas Anderson.

Bearing a title that is epic and playfully dry, The House of the Devil reconnects the horror genre with roots-y, genuine, teetering suspense. By doing so, West also manages to grasp viewers in the claws of doom by way of a foreboding graveyard or a pitch black basement, as opposed to, say, a phallic torture chamber aired simultaneously on forty live surveillance cameras. Stylistically, West forwent mining homage from the Grindhouse well—so exhausted this decade—and instead made a film set in the ’80s that not only looks period, but feels of it. The era’s mundane pace of life and lack of social interconnection can be sensed from the movie’s start and is incensed by the decade’s “Satanic Panic”: a media-exploited phenomenon that did for Satanism what coverage of the Zodiac Killer and Son of Sam did for serial killers in the ’60s and ’70s. At Devil‘s heart is the lead performance by newcomer, Jocelin Donahue, 27, who gets my vote for movie crush of 2009. Donahue plays Samantha, a smart, unsure college sophomore in dire need of a payday who eventually responds—in that ’80s way—to a nondescript babysitter flyer. No one ever said that $atan doesn’t have great taste.

From the way in which Donahue walks in high-waisted jeans to the way Samantha and her BFF eat and critique pizza, it’s a luscious thrill to witness such a dope actress and director get it and get it some more. Moreover, West appears supported by one of the cooler, simpatico filmmaking crews working in indie films today. Unlike the stereotypical proto-auteur of past and present, West’s horror movie shines as both the work of a driven perfectionist and a clear vision by a superlative collective; this enables the viewer to fall into, and fall in love with, all the creepy, masterful foreplay before West’s plot rocks wildly alongside a devilish eclipse. Afterward, I desired to open a pack of THoTD trading cards showcasing the film’s collaborators and characters alike rather than scan IMDB. Ti West discussed his creative process with /Film, as well as the film’s titular House, its mystic pizza, and why his experience helming the yet-to-be-released Cabin Fever 2 was an effing nightmare straight outta Hell Hollywood.

Hunter Stephenson: Hi Ti. I found this to be a very uncompromising horror film. I think what many are finding to their surprise is that The House of the Devil is not an homage to the ’80s a la Thanksgiving but a real period piece.

Ti West: Thanks, I’m glad you see it like that because that’s how I see it: as a period piece. I appreciate that. I mean, the film is basically about a cultural phenomenon in the 1980s, the Satanic Panic. So, I wanted to create a very accurate depiction of that and not do it tongue-in-cheek, or as a parody, because then people wouldn’t care about the characters in the movie. That’s why there’s a really nice primer to the beginning of the film [explaining the Satanic Panic, complete with statistics], because so much of the film is a contrast between a lot of realism and then these very fantastic horror elements. And that’s why, with the beginning, I wanted it to feel like this is something that could have really happened.

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fessenden

The long threatened promised US remake of The Orphanage has found its director and, frankly, I couldn’t be happier. Larry Fessenden is the man, and as well as signing on to helm this picture through production, he’s already co-written the remake script with the original’s producer, Guillermo del Toro.

This is very possibly not going to be a fashionable opinion but I see no reason why they won’t make a better film than J.A. Bayona’s original. I did like the 2007 version but definitely not to the extent of drop-down fainting witnessed in many of peers. And anyway, even if I had found it the best film of the year I’d still passionately support del Toro and Fessenden’s right to rework it. This isn’t Spielberg having a grasp at Harvey.

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