Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Movie Moxie Podcast: Episode 5 - The Last Exorcism Interviews with Eli Roth, Ashley Bell & Patrick Fabian

On this 5th episode of the Movie Moxie Podcast, Shannon interviews producer Eli Roth and actors Ashley Bell & Patrick Fabian of The Last Exorcism, as well as reviews of current theatrical releases The Expendables, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Human Centipede, has a look at the trailer for Black Swan, checks out current DVD releases as well as looking ahead to next weeks theatrical releases.

Click here to download MP3 of podcast

The Movie Moxie Podcast is a 100% spoiler-free film podcast

0:00 – 1:45 - Introduction
1:45 – 18:45 – Eli Roth Interview, producer: The Last Exorcism
18:45 – 34:35 – Ashley Bell & Patrick Fabian Interview, actors: The Last Exorcism
34:35 – 39:30 – The Last Exorcism Review
39:30 – 47:00 – The Expendables Review
47:00 – 51:00 – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World Review
51:00 – 53:00 – The Human Centipede (First Sequence) Review
53:00 – 56:10 – Black Swan Trailer
56:10 –1:01:40 – DVD reviews – Harry Brown, Survival of the Dead, The Wild Hunt
1:01:40 – 1:03:00 – Upcoming up Next Week
1:03:00 – 1:04:08 – Outro

Show Notes
You can subscribe to the Movie Moxie Podcast here:
Or subscribe through iTunes here.

Questions & comments on the podcast are welcome, feel free to comment on this post or contact me directly by email

Next week I’ll be reviewing the Danny Trejo revenge flick, and voted as most anticipated September release, Machete!

Black Swan Trailer:

Interview with Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian, actors of The Last Exorcism

Patrick Fabian as Cotton Marcus and Ashley Bell as Nell Sweetzer in The Last Exorcism

The following is a transcription of an interview with Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian, actors of The Last Exorcism when they were in town for the Toronto premiere of the film on Monday August 16, 2010 at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. We chat about what drew them to the project, their characters, the physicality of the roles and a whole lot more. This interview has been edited to be spoiler-free.

The Last Exorcism is a documentary-style film following Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a non-believing preacher set out to debunk exorcism. Then he meets Nell (Ashley Bell), an earnest and sweet-as-pie girl whose Dad asks for help as he's started to see all the signs of her being possessed.

Rather listen than read? Scoot over and listen to the interview on Episode 5 of the Movie Moxie Podcast here, where I also chatted with producer Eli Roth & also review the film.

Shannon: Well my first question is what drew you to this project?

Ashley Bell: I was immediately struck by the character of Nell Sweetzer from the first time I read the character breakdown. I think she’s such a complex character, and to have the opportunity as an actress to research and prepare for that and play it was just so huge. It’s something you dream about, a role you get to play.

Patrick Fabian: I love playing a preacher. That idea totally attracts me because a preacher is for the most part a dramatic larger than life character anyways, it’s a knowit all, somebody who has the ego to stand up in front of people and say “I know the way” and give me a little bit of money on the way. So that is absolutely fun. Plus, it’s a scary film. I always want to be a part of something like that.

Seán: I noticed with both characters, I think we are probably both close in age…

Patrick Fabian: 45.

Seán: Yeah, I’m 45 as well. But it’s a situation where both characters in their own way gifted as children really. And you’ve sort of got to the point where I don’t think you are cynical at all, I think you are just facing your own family realities, economic realities and everything like that. And you are sort of still on this more optimistic, trying to figure our your world as well, you are kind of in this home. But there is this place where these characters meet unexpectedly, and I’m wondering if it’s based on the idea that you are still searching for something in your 40’s and you are just getting through your teens in this film.

Patrick Fabian: I think when I first encountered her, when I first interviewed her, I’m so taken by her because of her innocence. I think a lot of my anger and angst is really at the father in the situation, because here is this girl and you’d like to save her from maybe the fate that I had, which was sort of being trapped in the monkey cage of what I was doing. Like her art that she shows me on the wall, and her room there are so many great things that she had that were precious and wonderful.

Ashley Bell: I love those drawings, that was a total surprize. I showed up to set one day and they had done all these drawings and I said “What a gift! Who made these? This is incredible.”

Patrick Fabian: So there is something about wanting to save her, I don’t know if it’s emphatically by saving her I save myself. But there is a sense of redemption and that I’m searching for something, clearly at the crossroads of my midlife, clearly trying to accept my responsibility to my family. And it’s the leap of faith that says I can no longer do what I’m doing, I don’t know what is out there and I don’t know how I’m going to pay for it but I’m willing to severe my past in anticipation and faith that I will be provided for in the future. And she becomes that conduit, that lynchpin into it.

Shannon: Both of the characters have a certain duality to them, not only in combination with the vérité /documentary style and the narrative style, but Nell with the literal possession as well as being herself; and then your character with believing and non-believing. Were there challenges to, or excitement about that kind of duality?

Ashley Bell: Yeah, there was tons of excitement actually. When I was preparing for both the audition and I had about a month before we all went to New Orleans and it was cool to try to prepare two different characters. Both Nell before her possessions and then during her kind of episodes or possessions. You know, she’s a 15 year old girl from the backwoods of Louisiana, extremely religious and I just started asking myself questions about who is she? Why hasn’t she left? She’s never had the need to leave that area. What has she been exposed to? What hasn’t she been exposed to? And that was so fascinating figuring that out and kind of pitting that character against the possessed Nell and using them to manipulate Patrick and the outsiders that come.

Patrick Fabian: And it was great to be able to both of hers (laughter). It really was. You know, I’ve said this before and I’ll said this again, without Ashley and her talent the film is a house of cards. If you don’t believe her as being innocent, then you aren’t going to believe her as being possessed and if either one of those aren’t being authentically portrayed, then you get suspect and then you are out. I think anytime you get into a horror film, or any time you get suspense or anxiousness in it, audiences are looking for that thing to hang their had on and say “Nope, that’s not good.”, and they are out, they check out quickly.

I think the film works because she brings that full. And a plus, it makes my job easier because there is no acting involved when I walk in and she’s in the full throws of being possessed. It’s a whole lot of reacting saying “I am legitimately creeped out, I am legitimately afraid for her and I legitimately do not know what to do.” She doesn’t meet me half way there, she comes like 90% over and then lets me walk over and have some water. It’s really wonderful, you know.

For my character to be both sides, I think any man of faith or any man who stands up there ultimately, intrinsically has to have that. Yes, I’m a man of faith. Yes, I believe in God. Yes, I believe other things. But more often than not, act in very ungodly ways, taking money and sleeping around and all those sort of things. I think that is just built in being part and parcel of being a preacher.

Ashley Bell: My job was made ten thousand times easier by the environment that Daniel created on set. He made it so safe to try anything and to welcome our ideas, and to ask if we had something in mind to try. And then the whole cast, Patrick and I would be sitting for hours, him interviewing me, and to have someone that is so generous and so there. It makes me feel safe to try anything, it’s all everyone else.

Patrick Fabian: I think that shows up in the film too. There is a relaxation, there is a reality and comfortableness of the situation, then through we are … not pitted against one another but certainly I’m here to discover the puzzle that is Nell. But she’s so open, so seemingly open in giving me “I want you to discover the puzzle too”. Yet every time she opens up to, that it leads me down a corridor that runs into a wall or runs into a that doesn’t make sense thing. Something is not adding up here.

Seán: That struck me as well going in at first, I was going “Oh, god, they are going down to the south, we’ve got some… “ (laughter), but you are taking Nell at face value right off the start, because it’s kind of what you want, too. You think you see everything there.

Patrick Fabian: Right. Story over, nice and clean.

Seán: But I find the early bridge in this is Caleb, but as an actor as well with him in drawing the three characters together, never mind the father Louis as well, but how important was it for you three to be working together to be on the same page throughout this?

Patrick Fabian: Well I just know that the first time I was working with Caleb (Landry Jones), first off Caleb is a very talented young man and he’s definitely going places. As a matter of fact he’s going to be in the new X-Men film as well. And he has a wonderful quality where you are a little creeped out standing next to him, and I think that is because he’s playing a creepy character not because he’s a creepy guy by any stretch.

Ashley Bell: He’s the sweetest.

Patrick Fabian: Yeah. But him & I, certainly we are odds with one another as characters and he just didn’t let me off the hook, and made me uncomfortable and I think that shows up. Consequently, I think that he is on her side, because they are brother and sister but I don’t know if he really is.

Ashley Bell: Yeah, there are almost two different teams. And I think that whole feel of whole the plantation, and certainly filming on location in Louisiana was so great. I mean, the humidity was at 100% humidity and we walked outside and it hit us like a big, warm, wet blanket (laughter). It just engulfed us.

Shannon: And it was so great? (laughter) Atmosphere.

Ashley Bell: But it was! The house was an actual plantation that had just been redone before Katrina, so everything was polished, but warped. So you still saw the waterlines, and the stairs ran crooked and the floorboards. All that helps so much and the Sweetzer farm and/or compound was just isolated out there, and just so claustrophobic. I think being down there helped a lot.

Patrick Fabian: Yeah.

Ashley Bell: And also to bond that with Caleb and Louis.

Patrick Fabian: I mean when you think about it, when we first drove up it looks like you would find these people there. And it feels like you are intruding, even though – why would you be intruding? You are just going to a farm. And yet it feels like you aren’t supposed to be here. And that is a great feel, that’s great. That worked just driving up, there is no window dressing for that, it just like “Let’s go the other way.”

Shannon: Both of your characters have some pretty interesting physical feats. You with the literal physicality and you with the slight of hand/magic type stuff. What did you do to prepare? Or do you have a movement background?

Ashley Bell: Yeah, I’ve done a lot of ballet, I’m double jointed… I like to pull that at parties. No, Daniel nailed my boots down and pushed me over and yelled ‘Action!’

Shannon: Wow. What was the experience like being in those crazy positions?

Ashley Bell: Honestly, it was so much fun. To get to play a character that physically demanding like that was a lot of fun. And Daniel made room for that one set, he kind of welcomed it. That night before the exorcism scene we were talking and he asked if I had in mind for the next day. And, first of all you just dream that anyone would ask you that as an actor, so I shared the back bend and several other physical things I was working on and he said “Yes, let’s do it. Let’s put it in.” So it was exciting.

Patrick Fabian: Fun for her. For us and the camera crew we were like “OH! Stop doing that! No! No!” (laughter), and she just smiled and go. It was wonderful to work on that. The tricks that I did and stuff like that, the slight of hand, that all plays into the idea of he’s a showman first. His real passion is magic, he happens to be a preacher. His day job is preaching, but what he really wants to be is a magician and it happens to reinforce that, I think thr one informs the other. And they had a great guy on set, they had an actual local magician who came and helped with the things that we did, and there were other things that we tried to do, but I think that was one of those cases where the magician was really good at it, and then they hoped that the actor could pick it up in 5 minutes (laughter). And we’d try it in film and I’d see Daniel be like “Oh, that not so good. We move on” (laughter).

Seán: What you were saying about Daniel asking you, you’ve got a writer/director team with Huck & Andrew, they’ve worked together before, they know each other really well. Probably at this point they probably really instinctive with each other too. But in doing something in such a vérité manner, and really with limited cast, how much did you stick to the page and how much started to evolve and things maybe taken in slightly different direction as the film went on? Did you film in sequence, by the way?

Patrick Fabian: Virtually, yeah.

Ashley Bell: We did pretty much film in sequence, which was so helpful.

Patrick Fabian: Yeah. I can’t imagine having it juxtaposed.

Ashley Bell: Yeah. But we pretty much stuck to the script and Huck & Andrew wrote such an incredible script with so much humour in it. When we saw it for the first time I was surprized by how much humour there was, and in just the right places. And then in some of the more emotional scenes, certainly the exorcism scenes and some of the physical stuff, I was allowed to have a little bit more freedom to go off and improvize with that. Daniel was encouraging if we were going someplace, to go there.

Patrick Fabian: We did a lot of takes. We did like 20 – 30 takes for a lot of the scenes, not most of the scenes. So consequently when you start to do that you start discovering things. I was saying that Huck & Andrew wrote a great script and it’s our road map and sometimes we take exits to other parts of the scene and Daniel and those guys were really good about saying “Let’s go there.” And if that became the scene, that is what would happen. But just by the nature of the beast, by talking all that much things start morphing and start growing. Sometimes not so great, which is why you have the director come in and say “I know you think that is a wonderful moment, but we are going to get rid of that now, alright?” (laughter).

Shannon: With it being a combination of sort of documentary/ vérité style and more narrative, where there challenges that came up with that?

Patrick Fabian: I think sometimes we would feel like we would get good takes, or at least what we were talking about in terms of electricity we wanted out of the scene was being had, but by the nature of having Zoltan Honti (cinematographer), who is chasing us down for everything, you are just sometimes not going to get the framing you want. And even though it was loose, it was very controlled loose. He really knew what was going on, and he wanted to show what he wanted to show. I know there were a lot of times where we would feel, well I can only speak for myself on this point, where I feel like “That was it, man! That was really good. Boy, wasn’t that on fire?” and they were like “Yeah….well, we don’t have anything on that one. That’s no good.” And then you get frustrated and stuff like that, but then it gets real because of that. Because you really start to really let it go, and I guess I’m going to do this scene all goddamn day, that is what I’m going to do, just shoot! Keep shooting! And they will find what they need.

Ashley Bell: On the note of Zoltan, this has obviously been a style that has been done so many times before but he is so smart.

Patrick Fabian: Yeah.

Ashley Bell: And the angles he found, and what he was able to do! I saw it for that first time and I was like, what Zoltan was able to do so differently. And the communication that he had with Daniel on set, I think they worked almost silently sometimes. They just knew each others thoughts, they knew exactly as they had worked together before and they knew exactly where to go, or what to do, or where to come in from, or where to spy from.

Patrick Fabian: I think he sets a new standard for that kind of handheld stuff. I don’t think you’ll be able to tolerate less than from here on out. The whole idea of “Hey, I have a camcorder” sort of jerky thing, doesn’t play unless it’s deliberately chosen to play like that.

Seán: Me, when I was kind of rolling my eyes about what I was walking in to, first thing, I grew up in a town about 70 miles from here, so this in not endemic to the south at all. You know so anything dealing with religion and film in any manner, like Last Temptation of Christ I had to drive 50 miles to go see it in another town. Life of Brian I had to go to the United States kind of thing to see it. It was that kind of town. Whenever a film comes out that is involving an exorcism, there is usually some sort of human cry somewhere. It’s usually probably lower than it has been before but I don’t at first, if someone is going to roll there eyes at this, to me, it was not really a mock at religion but you worry that things get lost in translation. Can you even worry about controlling that sort of thing?

Ashley Bell: I don’t think so, no.

Patrick Fabian: I think ultimately, no. But I think because people are going to take what they want. But if you are a believer in The Bible and God and that the Devil is real, and exorcisms are real, I don’t think there is anything in this film that is going to dissuade you from that and/or necessarily put a damper on that. So you have both points of view that whole way.

* Seán Francis Condon from MSN Canada, who was included in the roundtable interview. Check out his take on Eli Roth and the film here.

Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian at the Toronto Premiere of The Last Exorcism at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival

Interview with Eli Roth, producer of The Last Exorcism


The following is a transcription of an interview with Eli Roth, producer for The Last Exorcism when he was in town for the Toronto premiere of the film on Monday August 16, 2010 at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. We chat about how he got involved in the project, what draws people to horror film, the films PG-13 rating and a whole lot more. This interview has been edited to be spoiler-free.

The Last Exorcism is a documentary-style film following Cotton Marcus (Patrick Fabian), a non-believing preacher set out to debunk exorcism. Then he meets Nell (Ashley Bell), an earnest and sweet-as-pie girl whose Dad asks for help as he's started to see all the signs of her being possessed.

Rather listen than read? Scoot over and listen to the interview on Episode 5 of the Movie Moxie Podcast here. where I also chatted with actors Ashley Bell and Patrick Fabian & also review the film.

Shannon: Alright, I’m curious what drew you to this project?

Eli Roth: Well it was actually the producer Eric Newman, who brought it to me. He had about 3 or 4 years ago, had an idea to make a film that would be a pseudo-documentary about an exorcism gone wrong. And he hired Huck & Andrew to write the script and they were originally going to direct it, and I was a big fan of theirs and loved their movie Mail Order Wife. And Eric & I had partnered and formed a company called Arcade to make genre films, so it wound up being a co-production with Arcade and his company Strike, and he gave me the script and it was truly one of the scariest, most compelling, interesting scripts I’d ever read, not just as a horror film but just as a movie, as a screenplay. The characters were so well written and the story, I had no idea where it was going. He didn’t tell me anything about it other than it’s this documentary of this exorcism. I mean I couldn’t put it down.

As soon as I finished the script I called him right away and said “I have to be involved in this.” And it was Studio Canal had said to him “If Eli puts his name on it, we’ll finance it. That’s the only name we want.” So, my name was able to give us the freedom to cast Patrick Fabian and Ashley. Once I was involved we could put anyone we wanted on it. And the writers actually dropped out at the last minute to make their film The Virginity Hit, which is coming out in September and a very funny movie that got green lit by Sony. So, I was in Berlin at work on Inglourious Basterds, and Eric Newman and the team at Strike found this director Daniel Stamm, and it wound up being the greatest thing that could have happened, because I think he did such a magnificent job.

But I’ve always wanted to make an exorcism movie. The Exorcist traumatized me when I was 6 years old. I couldn’t sleep for years after I saw that. Part of it was my father was a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst and a professor at Harvard and I always approached everything from a very psychiatric point of view and then I saw this movie and I was like “What’s this possession?!? You never told me about that!” And he was like “Well, were Jews, we don’t believe in that” and I was like “No! You are hiding it from me, so it must be true. You just don’t want me to be afraid of it”. But I always thought, how can you top The Exorcist? It’s truly regarded by many as the scariest movie of all time, and the answer is: don’t. Don’t try to top The Exorcist, just make something that is different and original and make it great.

I thought what’s great about the documentary style is that you can acknowledge The Exorcist and in that first exorcism play on all those clichés, the shaking bed, the voices, and when you are in that room there is no make up. There is no CG, there is nothing, it’s purely Ashley Bell. And when she’s twisting her neck and the veins are bolting, and back bending, that is all 100% her. And it’s terrifying. Either way, this girl is possessed or she completely insane, and either way it’s bad. There is a whole other level of tension going on, and I just love the way the movie, the script just kept the audience guessing.

Because at its core the film is truly a psychological thriller about a girl who might be crazy, might be possessed, and about the clash of science and religion. But what I thought was so clever was that the scientific point of view, it’s the Reverend who has the scientific point of view. And it’s the father who’s the devout Fundamentalist. And both of them want to save this girl, but they are completely approaching it from the opposite ends and neither one of them will see the others point of view.

I just thought it was really great kind of microcosm for the way that science and religion clash in America, and certainly in the North and South the way people see different things. But I loved that the movie really does present both sides fairly. That if were a devout Fundamentalist, you would see this movie and agree with everything the father says and if you didn’t believe in any of that you would believe everything that Cotton says but yet you can also see the others’ point of view.

Seán*: Yeah, and I think there is a sense in argument now that that the two camps can’t be mutually exclusive and I don’t believe that at all. I think that everything is on a case by case basis and you sort of have to sort have to ration out percentages and figure out strategies by being able to listen to people.

Eli Roth: Right. Nobody listens, and that is what’s interesting. They are so unbending and unwavering. But I think I wanted to make a film that was thought provoking and worked on many levels, and wasn’t just a straight up horror movie. For me, to put my name on it as producer and really see it all the way though it has to be something I truly believed in.

Shannon: Well, it has a PG-13 rating and I don’t think a lot of people say Eli Roth and PG-13 in the same breath.

Eli Roth: Nobody does.

Shannon: What do you think the response is going to be from your fan base?

Eli Roth: I think the fans, you know it’s my job to communicate to the fans that this is not Hostel III. That this is a film about possession, not power tools and doesn’t expect that. Every story has its appropriate level of violence. When you see Piranha 3D, that is a movie that takes full advantage of the R rating, it is the most blood, it’s a gore-gasm and it’s beautiful. And that’s what you want – bodies being ripped apart, blood everywhere, stuff popping out of the screen, it’s wonderful. This is not that movie. This movie is much more at The Grudge, The Ring, paranormal end of the horror spectrum. More actually close to District 9 in terms of how the story unfolds.

As long as the fans know what they are getting, if you order steak and chicken comes you can be really angry, even though it’s delicious chicken. Fans have to know what they are in for, so we’ve been very clear in the marketing saying “Yes, this is PG-13, but you know what? So is Cloverfield, so is The Ring, so is The Grudge” and I love those movies. Those are fantastic movies. Cloverfield was the movie that made me think “Wow, you can really be very scary and still be PG-13”, because as I proudly push the boundaries of R rating, PG -13 is growing along with it. The PG-13 today is not what PG-13 was in 2002, just as R today is not what R rating was years ago, so more violence has become permissible in a PG-13 film. But I also feel like, if you are going to make an R film, make it R and have a purpose for doing it. And we didn’t decide on a rating when we made it. We said let’s make the best film possible but and once you realize that they are on a farm with a religious family, they aren’t going to swear, there is no sex in the film and a lot of the violence is off-camera, it’s not really about that. It’s about whether or not this girl is possessed or crazy.

Seán: I was going to ask about that too, you mentioned getting your up there on top, when you look at the final list of course of production credits there are a load of other names in there, lots of money comes from here and there, there are also the audience expectations like you were talking about. How scary is it to have your name up there? And once it’s up there on a project and you’re not happy, can you pull that off?

Eli Roth: Oh yeah, I mean there is no fear whatsoever. You don’t put your name on a project unless you are really confident, and that you love it and believe in it. And that’s something where I’m there as the insurance policy to make sure that the movies scary. And when the movie is financed, it’s financed on my name. So I’m there every step of the way making sure it’s going as planned. And I was there in the editing room and there were scenes where the director did an amazing job but just didn’t have the experience of cutting scary scenes the way that I did. And I could see why certain scenes weren’t working as well as we want them to and I could say “Just change this music cue, you’re giving it away a beat early here, cut to a shot of that”, you know really helping show Daniel how to build tension in certain scenes. But Daniel did an amazing job and needed very little help.

I was there in the way that Quentin was there for me when I made Hostel, he wasn’t there during the shooting but in the editing room he came in and helped me take 7 minutes out of the film. And even though District 9 is very much Neill Blomkamp’s film, you can feel Peter Jackson’s influence. So for me, I always want to challenge myself and do something different. You know, it was actually scarier to do be on a poster for Inglourious Basterds, I mean people are going to be like – with producing it’s always like what did anyone really do? It’s always this nebulous thing. But when you are acting on camera it’s like that is what you did and there you are for everyone to judge.

But this, I feel great about it, I’m excited about it and I’m also excited to launch the career of Daniel Stamm, I think he is an amazing talent and I’m also to if the film works it’s just a victory for independent film in general that you can make a movie with total control and cast the best actors, you don’t need stars, and shoot it on a budget and get it in theatres and fans will love it. You know it really will help, just like Paranormal (Activity) did, it keeps the genre alive.

Shannon: What do you think draws people to horror films?

Eli Roth: I think that there is no place left that’s really socially acceptable, where you can be terrified. We are not allowed to be terrified at home. We are not allowed to be terrified at work. We can’t walk around on the street and scream, but we all have fears we just absorb and they come out in weird ways. And when you see a horror movie, it’s basically saying that for the next 90minutes you are allowed to be scared and to feel that terror. So the terror that you’ve stored up for all kinds of other things and it’s very cathartic to let it out and to have that adrenaline rush. And they are also great date movies. If you want to get your date to hold your hand and sit in you lap, take your date to a horror movie. There is always one person that doesn’t want to sleep alone, so you say ‘stay over at my place,’ and in 9 months there’s The Last Exorcism babies.

But, you know I think that there are things that people are afraid of that they don’t necessarily want to admit they are afraid of, that they think of. And when they go and see it with their friends and discuss it, it’s a way of dealing with fear and the terror of death and the unknown, but all done if a very, very safe way. But I really think that release of screaming, it’s like when you go to a sporting event you can get that scream, but it’s more of a cheer that a scream. But really there is no other place that you are allowed to let yourself be terrified without feeling like a coward.

Seán: About the idea of horror films too, and like you are not going to re-make The Exorcist or anything like that, with all the elements that you got here I actually didn’t find myself thinking it overall as a horror film anyway.

Eli Roth: No, it’s truly a psychological thriller. A drama.

Seán: It’s a situation too where you know I’m at a such an age when I go in skeptical to a lot of things, unfortunately, because it’s not something I’m proud of to be honest, to go into something skeptical.

Eli Roth: Nobody likes to feel jaded.

Seán: Yeah, but I think Cotton is an interesting vehicle for moving forward that skepticism and have it kind of be evaporated, blown away as things go on.

Eli Roth: Thank you.

Seán: For me, he is kind of the guy that I’m attaching myself to.

Eli Roth: Oh, for sure, he kind of wins you over. And what’s great about the movie is what is so clever is, that if this was a movie about a guy conning people, you kind of feel bad. You kind of feel guilty laughing at Louis. But because it’s a confessional, because he’s saying this “I am making this to then show everybody”, it allows you to enjoy it. You don’t feel bad about laughing, because you know he’s doing it and he’ll never do it again and everything he is doing and the people he is doing it to, everyone is going to learn and going to have to pay for that. You know he is going to have to squirm when he has to actually sit there and say “Sorry.”

And there is something that feels like “Wow, this guy is confessing his deepest, darkest secret and he’s going to spill it”, and you have to kind of admire that he’s doing it and he’s just going “Sorry, I’m throwing in the towel and spilling my secrets and it’s all a game. I lied to everybody.” And you really realize he really cares for Nell/ That this isn’t someone just taking advantage of, but he feels terribly.

So they are both going about it completely the wrong way but he’s so sympathetic because you can tell he really does care and he really does feel terrible, and he really wants to help and he feels like he’s goofing around has completely made a mess and he feels terrible about it. But you also see how terrible Louis feels, and how Louis doesn’t want to do this either.

But it’s just a very interesting study with their unwavering faith can also get them into trouble. I’m glad you said that because we wanted to make a film that would broaden beyond just the horror fans, that the horror fans would go out and see and say that was more than just a scary movie, that that was a very, very interesting psychological thriller, it’s and interesting drama, it’s an interesting study on religion versus science and really make something that people can watch over and over that would really prompt discussion.

Shannon: With it being a combination of sort of documentary/vérité style and a more narrative style, what were the rationale to combine them both as opposed to going with one or the other?

Eli Roth: Well, it doesn’t combine them both, it is documentary style. There is found footage, and then there is documentary. Cloverfield is found footage, Grey Gardens is a documentary. American Movie is a documentary. Brother’s Keeper is a documentary. King of Kong is a documentary. All of those documentaries are edited and scored, and photographed beautifully. Fred Wisemans films: Zoo, Titicut Follies, those are vérité documentaries that are edited and shot but do not have music or narration. So within documentary, there’s different styles of documentary. So we said … let’s say we were making Gimme Shelter, Grey Gardens, Brothers Keeper, if we wanted to make the best story with Brother's Keeper we would have scored it during dramatic moments and darkest moments. We would have a composer do this movie, to bring along the emotions that we want the audience to feel. And we thought if he’s doing a documentary about a girl who is possessed, why wouldn’t he score it?

But we also like raising the question of who put this together? We wanted to kind of inspire that discussion as well. We kind of said just because Cloverfield was handheld and didn’t have any music, there is no reason – why should we stick to their rules? That’s what worked for their story. What worked for our story is that we want to tell a dramatic story in a documentary style. And documentaries have music so, so will we.

Seán: It’s a case to like how you were saying earlier about talking with Daniel about sort of communicating and establishing a rhythm and language as well. Is a lot of that instead of coming through the page, end up coming through the editing room? You were talking about the editing process earlier.

Eli Roth: Sure, well it was all written. It was all written on the page, the docu-style, incorporating things. But Daniel certainly added, he said we should have the sound girl get more involved. She wasn’t a character but that way Cotton has someone to play off of a little more. Than we made the conscious decision to slowly make the camera man a character. But that is really the audience, we wanted him to be the voice of the audience, he is kind of the voice of reason.

Going with that vérité style, that was Daniel and his vision and his understanding of how to embrace that. It was one the page but he added so much more once we started shooting. Even in post-production and in editing we could add in ADR a line about this, just certain things to make it feel more vérité, that was all though the editing room.

Shannon: With the title of the film, it has certain finality to it.

Eli Roth: Yep.

Shannon: What was the rationale behind that or were there other titles in the running?

Eli Roth: The original title was The Ivanwood Exorcism. Then, we changed the title to Cotton. And then in editing I came up with the title The Last Exorcism, and I liked the double meaning of it. And I liked he’s doing this as “Hey , this is my swan song and we are going to film it and this is the last exorcism”. But there is something – you know, Cotton, you really have to educate people “This is Cotton, a movie about exorcism”. Cotton we’d have to blast like District 9, nobody knew what it was, then you saw spaceship and they really branded it. The money to branding it just so people know what it was, then the next step was to get them interested.

The title The Last Exorcism, instantly you know what space you are in. And I think when it comes to horror, people want to know what they are in for. If it’s a zombie movie, they want to know it’s a zombie movie. If it’s a vampire movie, they want to know its vampires. If it’s possession, people want to know what they are getting themselves into. And we just liked the immediacy of the title, that we could then just focus on getting people excited about the film, rather than educating them on what it is.

* Seán Francis Condon from MSN Canada, who was included in the roundtable interview. Check out his take on Eli Roth and the film here.

George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead (DVD Review)

Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead)
Cast: Alan Van Sprang, Kenneth Welsh, Devon Bostick, Richard Fitzpatrick, Kathleen Munroe
Canada, 2010

Reason to see: Zombie films are always a yes for me.

Survival of the Dead picks up a tangent story via the character of Sarge (Alan Van Sprang) from George A. Romero's Diary of the Dead, and leads us is a strangely Western direction - but it totally works! The film centres on a very 'us versus them' scenario, where neither 'us' nor 'them' are actually zombies, but rather two families that have been quarrelling long before the days of a long before the days of the walking (yes, walking... very slowly walking) dead. Of course the zombies add to this conflict between the two patriarch of Seamus Muldoon (Richard Fitzpatrick) and Patrick O'Flynn (Kenneth Welsh), because the two certainly can't agree on anything a lot which in this case includes the treatment of the zombies.

I have to say this is one particular zombie spin I've never seen before not only with the dealings with the zombies but infusing it with a western spin (on an island, no less) gives it the opportunity to pull out a lot of genre recognition laughs that add to the mix of zombie goodness. It also brings lots of fun effects, crazy kills and even sweeping landscapes to the screen.

I love a good zombie movie. They are a great way to have fun, relax and cheer for the slow-walking, non-talking, brain-eating undead and this one does all that and more. The DVD extra for the film are extensive and enthusiastic, you can really tell everyone had a great time being a part of and making the film.

DVD Extras (2 Disc Ultimate Undead Edition):
  • Introduction by George A. Romero (1 minute), freaking hilarious introduction
  • Audio Commentary with director George A. Romero, executive producer Peter Grunwald, executive producer/film editor Michael Doherty, actor Kenneth Welsh (Patrick O'Flynn) & second unit director/stunt co-ordinator/actor (Len Muldoon) Matt Birman. Very entertaining commentary, especially as it's the first look at the film for some people involved. You can really tell they had a great time filming it, and watching it together!
  • Time with George (9 minutes) - informative discussion on everything from character inspiration to choice of CGI/pracitcal effects to copyright woes to finances.
  • HDNet: A Look at Surivial of the Dead (4 minutes) - featurette with film footage and outlining the film premise, character set up, role of the zombies of the film, zombie lore and zombie rules.
  • "Walking After Midnight" (76 minute documentary) - extensive documentary with behind the scenes, days on the set, lots of interviews with cast including several enthusiastic 'feature zombies', interviews with crew including look ad feel of the film, costumes, effects, speculation of what the title of the film would end up being and footage of festival circuit including Venice & TIFF screenings.
  • "Sarge" short film (4 minutes) - short film featuring Sarge character played by Alan Van Sprang.
  • "A Minute of Your Time" shorts - 13 shorts, 20 minutes - brief moments in time throughout the chronology of the film including festival footage, outtakes, interviews and on on set footage.
  • Storyboard Comparisons (2 minutes) - 1 confrontation scene comparison of storyboard to actual film.
  • How to Create Your Own Zombie Bite (10 minutes) - absolutely hilarious zombie bite recreation challenge taken on by Backyard FX.
George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead is available on DVD as of August 31, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I enjoyed it
I'll watch it again
I recommend it to zombie film fans, especially of the fun/comedy zombie variety

Return to Film Reviews or see more DVD Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2009-2010
See original film review during TIFF 2009

Devon Bostick in Survival of the Dead. Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

DVD Releases August 31, 2010

Let's have a look at this weeks DVD releases for Tuesday August 31, 2010!

I'm thrilled to see The Wild Hunt gets a DVD release today, it's easily on my list of favourite films of 2010 (so far), it's set in the world of LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) and is a fictional exploration of when the mythical and real world collide. The Wild Hunt is a must see film, it won Best Canadian First Feature at TIFF'09, landed in this years Canada's Top Ten 2009 and is a rare gem of a film with with a extremely strong narrative and compelling characters.

More strong narratives this week with the dark and compelling Harry Brown starring Michael Caine. For the zombie lovers out there we have George A. Romero's Survival of the Dead, and the 2 Disc Ultimate Undead Edition is filled to the brim with extras including a very lively commentary with George A. Romero along with cast & crew, a documentary on the making of the film, an instructional how-to on how to create your own zombie bite and many, many more fun zombie tidbits.

We also have some documentaries this week of the very cute variety including the Canadian doc Cat Ladies which looks at several women who have more than a few cats on their hands and we also have Babies which follows 4 different babies for a year in different parts of the world. Although not a documentary, but rather a dark comedy the Canadian film Leslie, My Name is Evil is roughly based on the Manson Cult murders and follows Leslie (Kristin Hager), and Perry (Gregory Smith) who falls for her when he is selected to be a jury member at her hippie death cult murder trial.

The individual films from The Red Riding Trilogy come out today*, Red Riding 1974 (dir: Julian Jarrold), Red Riding 1980 (dir: James Marsh) and Red Riding 1983 (dir: Anand Tucker), the crime/drama trilogy has been getting acclaim everyone you look and stars Andrew Garfield (Boy A), Paddy Considine (The Cry of the Owl), Eddie Marsan (The Disappearance of Alice Creed), David Morrissey, Sean Bean and Michelle Dockery.
*In Canada: the individual films come out today and The Trilogy will be released in a 3-in-1 on October 19, 2010. In the US, The Trilogy is available today, August 31, 2010.

Beatdown from my notes, I have this listed as such: Boxing film with Dance film format - "Stay away from my sister' and 'We got a fight club scene'. Heath Herring, Danny Trejo (Machete) & Eric Balfour ("Haven")! I want it.

On Blu-Ray this week we have the original The Evil Dead and in TV on DVD the biggie has to be Vampire Diaries Season 1 which boasts 8 hours of additional footage.

Other biggies of the week include that crazy dog Marmaduke and Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married Too?

Titles on Amazon.ca(Canada):

Titles on Amazon.com (US):

The Wild Hunt, Cat Ladies, Leslie My Name is Evil are not yet available on Amazon.com (US).
Babies will be available on Amazon.com on Sept 28, 2010.

Harry Brown (DVD Review)

Courtesy of eOne Films

Dir: Daniel Barber - feature film directorial debut
Cast: Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer, Charlie Creed-Miles, Ben Drew, Liam Cunningham, David Bradley, Jack O'Connell
UK, 2010

Reason to see: Michael Caine is always enough to get me interested in seeing a film and the trailer looked interesting

I was all set to write that Harry Brown is set in the gritty, dark world of crime and drug dealing, but it isn't. It's literally about the regular nice man next door to what has become a gritty, dark world, but the fact that he's probably been there long before any of the street punks goes to show exactly the two worlds, or personalities, that collide.

Michael Caine plays Harry Brown, a retired man living on a housing estate (series of apartment building complexes for folks on this side of the pond), an estate that has a combination of retirees, regular folk and a good size of violent and terrorizing young drug dealer and gang types. The film aptly uses this setting to explore themes of crime and violence, but also takes a strong look at futility, emptiness and disinterest from many of the different parties, participates and most interestingly non-participants. It's that lack of interest that makes the film interesting. What are you willing to let slip by, and what aren't you okay with slipping by. If you were to take action, what would you do and how would that go?

It doesn't shy away from the messy and cruel nature these acts can carry, which was refreshingly believeable for a tale of vengeance. Instead of highly stylized crafty fights we get brutality and torment that's uncomfortable and keeps you on edge. Although the violence isn't highly stylized, which is refreshing, but more so it doesn't need to be because the film itself is beautifully shot and accompanied by a fantastic score and soundtrack.

Michael Caine is fantastic in the film, bringing a new and interesting character alive on the screen, showing us someone who is aware of the malicious and uncaring around him. I also really enjoyed Emily Mortimer as D.I. Alice Frampton, likely one of the only characters in the film that didn't buy into the futility of the situation, although I wished she was in it more.

Harry Brown doesn't pull any punches, it's gritty and dark and dangerous. Although it's strongly centred in injustice, it's oddly not really about justice. A bit of a conundrum, but that's one of the things that I liked about it is that is starts grey keeps it pretty grey. Actually, grey with a lot of red from all the blood which would give us Brown. Harry Brown.

DVD Extras:
  • Interviews with Cast and Crew (37 minutes total) - great set of interviews with actors Michael Caine (6 minutes), Emily Mortimer (6 minutes), Liam Cunningham (5 minutes), Ben Drew (7 minutes), Jack O'Connell (5 minutes) and director Daniel Barber (8 minutes), on what drew them to the project, their characters (if applicable), what they hope people take from the film and the films message and realness of the issues the film deals with. I particularly enjoyed the interviews with Liam Cunningham as he discusses the London as a character of the film and vigilante films & the Ben Drew interview - he's one to keep your an eye on, I expect to see a lot more of him in the future.
  • Deleted Scenes - 7 scenes (17 minutes), many are extended scenes and all add interesting layers to the the film.
  • Trailer

Harry Brown is available on DVD as of August 31, 2010. Check it out over at Amazon.ca & Amazon.com

Shannon's Overall View:
I appreciated it
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it fans of drama based vengeance films

Return to Film Reviews

© Shannon Ridler, 2010
Originally reviewed for Theatrical Release - May 21, 2010

Michael Caine in Harry Brown. Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Charlie Creed-Miles & Emily Mortimer in Harry Brown Courtesy of E1 Entertainment

Monday, 30 August 2010

Poll Results: Which September Release Are You Most Looking Forward To?

You have voted and the results are in! Although Never Let Me Go had an early lead it ended up in 3rd place with 13%. It seems like in September people are looking for vengeance and blood with Machete coming in 1st place at 27% and Resident Evil: Afterlife a near 2nd at 24%. I'm a little surprized a that - I didn't realize it wasn't just me looking forward to Alice taking on the Umbrella corporation ... in 3D.

27% - Machete
24% - Resident Evil: Afterlife
13% - Never Let Me Go
10% - Tie: The Town & Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
6% - Tie: The American & Devil

Thanks for voting!

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Films on TMN in September 2010

It's time to have a looks at new & notable films debuting on TMN (The Movie Network) this month. I didn't get my magazine (yet) this month, so used a different method for checking the new films - that appears to be a big listing and then the ones with trailers look "new" new. Fingers crossed these are all "new" new, but even if not they are all notable! Lots of my faves in this lot.

Must See's
Highly Enjoyable
  • Ninja Assassin - starring South Korean superstar Rain as, you guessed it, a ninja assassin. Very bloody & gory but I absolutely adore this film because it really is what it is.. ninjas... assassins... blood... it's all good
  • Nine - film based on the stage play inspired by Fellini's film 8 1/2. Yes, that's a bit of a mouthful and perhaps would be clearer with a diagram. Stars Daniel Day-Lewis and lots of amazing women including Dame Judi Dench, Penélope Cruz, Marion Marion Cotillard. And it's a musical.
  • Sherlock Holmes - Extremely fun historical adventure mystery film and reboot Mr. Holmes and friends. Stars Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes and Jude Law as Watson, and the two have ridiculously good chemistry. Directed by Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smocking Barrels, Snatch), and a sequel is in the works for 2011.
  • Dear John - Based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, Dear John stars Channing Tatum & Amanda Seyfried as two people who fall for each and work to maintain a long distance romance through letters while John returns to military duty overseas.
The Biggies
  • Up in the Air - George Clooney stars as a professional at laying people off.
  • The Road - post apocalyptic journey film based on the book by Cormac McCarthy
  • Love Happens- romantic comedy with Jennifer Aniston and Aaron Eckhart.
  • A Serious Man - latest from the Coen Brothers.
My To Watch List
  • GravyTrain - comedy from the folks that brought us the hilarious Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser, which is als on this month.
  • Riverworld - this had me at "SciFi" and "Tahmoh Penikett" (Helo from BSG), but it's a 3hr TV ness and is about reawakening in a a watery location. In other words, sounds awesome.
  • Stonehenge Apocalypse - more SciFi TV-ness, looks like TV movie, centred on chain of events that start from finding human remains near Stonehenge. And, stars Misha Collins (Castiel on Supernatural)
  • Ponyo - I've only heard great things about this animated film from Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle).
How I did with August
Horrible! I didn't catch anything new other than watching True Blood. I just missed The Informant! but will certainly catch it once it's on On Demand. Was a busy month, but I can't believe I didn't see anything new on TMN. Let's hope in September see more.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 Coverage


Pre-Festival Coverage
June 15, 2010 - Passes on Sale
July 29, 2010 - Schedule and Line Up Announced!
August 11, 2010 - Short to Creep Us Out!
August 11, 2010 - Filmmakers in Attendance

Daily Coverage
Day 1 - Friday August 13, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 2 - Saturday August 14, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 3 - Sunday August 15, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 4 - Monday August 16, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 5 - Tuesday August 17, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 6 - Wednesday August 18, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 7 - Thursday August 19, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog
Day 8 - Friday August 20, 2010 - Write Up, Vlog

Film Reviews - Features
Alien vs Ninja
All About Evil
Black Death
Evil in The Time of Heroes / To kako - Stin epohi ton iroon
High School
Human Centipede (First Sequence), The
I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Last Exorcism, The
Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu, The
Phobia 2 / Ha phraeng

Film Reviews - Shorts
Barcelona Venice
DemiUrge Emesis
Deus Irae
Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer
Inferno of the Dead
Junko's Shamisen
King Chicken
Library, The
Necronomicon, The
Off Season
Primer Contacte / First Contact
They Will Pay in Rivers of Blood
Thomas Beale Cipher, The
United Monster Talent Agency

Previously reviewed shorts:
Chloe & Attie

Videos - Q&As, Introductions, etc.
All About Evil Intro and Q&A with director Joshua Grannell
Cargo Introduction
Game Night Introduction
I Spit on Your Grave (2010) Introduction and Q&A with dirctor Steven R. Monroe
Inferno of Blood introduction
Junko’s Shamisen Introduction
The Last Exorcism Introduction and Q&A with producer Eli Roth and actors Ashley Bell & Patrick Fabian
The Last Lovecraft introduction with Devin McGinn, Henry Saine, Kyle Davis, Edmund Lupinski, Martin Starr and Mike McGinn
Re-Wire introduction with director David-James Fernandes
They Shall Pay with Rivers of Blood Introduction
The Thomas Beale Cipher introduction with filmmaker Andrew Allen
Closing Night - Rubber Interview, Human Centipede reenactment and thanks

Are You Going to Toronto After Dark?

Post Festival Coverage
Wrap Up

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 ran from August 13 - 20, 2010 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 Award Winners

Earlier this week I put up my festival faves but now it's time to the how the entire audience felt this year. Votes were made, ballots were tallied and the decisions are in. Here are the 2010 Award Winners for the Toronto After Dark Film Festival.

Audience Awards - Best Feature Film
1. GOLD: The Last Exorcism
2. SILVER: The Human Centipede
3. BRONZE: I Spit on Your Grave (2010)

Vision Awards - Best Independent Feature Film
(The Vision Awards are given out by the Festival in recognition of outstanding independent genre feature filmmaking)
1. GOLD: Heartless
2. SILVER: The Last Lovecraft
3. BRONZE: All About Evil

Audience Awards - Best Canadian Short Film
1. GOLD: Junko's Shamisen
2. SILVER: King Chicken
3. BRONZE (tie): Fireman! and Game Night

Audience Awards - Best International Short Film
1. GOLD: Off Season
2. SILVER: Pumzi
3. BRONZE: Deus Irae

Fans' Choice Awards as voted by by over 100 Festival All-Access Pass Buyers
Best Horror Film - The Last Exorcism
Best Sci-Fi Film - Cargo
Best Action Film - Centurion
Best Comedy - High School
Best Director - Steven R. Monroe for I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Best Screenplay - Huck Botko & Andrew Gurland for The Last Exorcism
Best Leading Actor - Patrick Fabian for The Last Exorcism
Best Leading Actress - Sarah Butler for I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Best Ensemble Cast (tie) - Doghouse and High School
Best Special Effects (tie) - Cargo and RoboGeisha
Best Make-Up - Doghouse
Best Soundtrack - High School
Best Fight - Alien vs Ninja
Best Kills - I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Scariest Film - The Last Exorcism
Most Original Film - Rubber
Most Disturbing Film - I Spit on Your Grave (2010)
Best Trailer - RoboGeisha
Best Festival Bumper - 5 Year Young

The Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2010 ran from August 13 - 20, 2010 at the Bloor Cinema, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
All content on Movie Moxie is written by Shannon Ridler, © 2006 - 2012