Over the years Darren Bousman has created some pretty damn memorable films in the horror genre, Saw II – IV, The Devil’s Carnival, a story in the Tales of Halloween saga, Mother’s Day and now we have Abattoir which is icing on the cake! Abattoir released on VOD December 9th by Momentum Films and was the 2016 official selection of the LA Film Festival, Sitges, Fantasia, and other film festivals. The film stars Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Lin Shaye and Dayton Callie.
Every day I have a routine in the morning of scrolling through my Facebook page quite rapidly to catch a glimpse of what might be interesting in the world of horror and film. One morning after scrolling for quite some time I came across a posting with the word Abattoir. I wondered to myself, what an Abattoir was? Was this a movie? After reading more, I saw the words Lin Shaye, Haunted House, and Director of Saw III in the summary. I gasped and violently started clicking the mouse cursor on the post, yearning for more info! At that very moment I knew I MUST see this film and when the day finally came, I was not disappointed.
Engrossing and thrilling, Abattoir offers fans a fresh take on traditional horror and will satisfy the appetite of anyone who enjoys a well-played out psychological thriller filled with horror and suspense. The film is set in the modern world; however, it wastes no time into convincing viewers that the film might take place entirely in a different era. Our lead character is a reporter named Julia (Jessica Lowndes) who looks very much like a Bettie Page. When Julia’s sister and family are murdered in their own home, Julia discovers that the room the family was murdered in is completely removed from the house, leaving behind only the framework and no furniture. Julie receives a mysterious card with the name Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie), and she is hoping that he has the answers to this bizarre occurrence. Julia is lead to a bizarre town “New English, ” and she meets up with a detective, Declan Grady (Joe Anderson) whose style is similar to that of Humphrey Bogart and the two share a special bond. The town of New English gave off a Children of The Corn vibe, and anyone who entered from the outside was instantly judged. As the journey continues, Julia is eventually faced with a haunted house that is constructed with the rooms of the dead (including her sister’s). Making you skin crawl, Abattoir builds up to a fantastic ending both mentally and visually. Abattoir will keep audiences invested with enough horror classic references and good ole scares without the overabundance of gore and special effects. Abattoir is a downright crazy horror film that will leave you craving more and is clearly the product of a wonderful director.
An investigative reporter works to solve the mystery behind a mysterious man who has been buying houses where tragedies have occurred. Set in a world where it always feels like night, even in daylight hours, real estate reporter Julia Talben’s life is turned upside down when her family is brutally murdered. It is believed to be an open and close case, but Julia quickly realizes there is much more to this story when she returns to the crime scene to find the murder room deconstructed and physically removed from her sister’s home. This ignites an investigative pursuit that eventually leads her and ex-lover Detective Declan Grady to the town of New English where they find the enigmatic Jebediah Crone and the Abattoir – a monstrous house stitched together with unending rooms of death and the damned. Julia comes to realize that her sister’s soul is trapped inside, but the Abattoir isn’t just a house – it’s a door to something more evil than anyone could have ever imagined. Julia and Grady are ultimately faced with the question: How do you build a haunted house? One room at a time.
Interview with Director Darren Bousman
iHorror.com had the privilege recently to sit down with Saw II-IV director Darren Bousman and speak to him about his new film Abattoir. We cover the origins of this film and speak about Darren’s inspirations and his future work in the horror genre. We hope you enjoy!
iHorror: Thank you for meeting with me today Darren. I did watch the film, and it was very creepy, bizarre, and unique.
Darren Bousman: Thank you!
iH: Definitely something that I had never seen before.
DB: That was the hope.
iH: There were a few times I was taking notes and I dropped my pen and placed my hands over my mouth, especially at the end.
DB: Yeah, that last act is pretty awesome. You know I always look for the right way to describe it to someone, and I think that you kind of said it in a way, it is bizarre and unique. I wanted to make a movie that was a non-traditional horror film, not a traditional haunted house film, and not a traditional ghost film that literally made you pay attention because it is so dense in the mythology and the talk they way that the characters speak. This was like a film warp that had horror elements into it and I thought that was kind of a unique way into a horror film as opposed to “here is a scary ghost, a scary house” we follow a murder investigation that eventually led you into a horror film. We kind of approached it like the first act was Seven and then Wicker Man, and then it became Hellraiser. It was trying to progress into a horror film rather than start off with that.
iH: Yeah, sitting there watching the film I never would have known it was a horror film. It really did like you said, “progressed into one.”
DB: My favorite type is genre bending things or genre mashups that are not. I never want to make a movie that it easy to describe; I want you to watch the movie. If you can describe it in a sentence, then it is not as complex or complicated as I want to make it.
iH: This is a film that I am going to need to watch again, I know I missed some stuff.
DB: I always try to make things in my films that require second viewings. So when you see it, you are like “oh shit that was there.” And one of the things about Abattoir that I am most proud of is the script by Chris Monfette. Everything that you need to know is in the dialogue, but it might only be said once. A lot of times movies will say the same thing 20,000 times, and you know every single thing is there but it is said dialogue and it is said casual conversation. So a lot of times people pay half attention. It was really cool because there was a lot of Sawisims in this movie that with Jebediah Crone mirroring Tobin Bell. Crone says exactly what is going to happen and he says it double entendre so you miss what he is saying. But if you listen to him again and really listen everything he says comes true, everything he says happens. You can really misconstrue what he is saying so I really think that is another fun part of the movie.
iH: He is really such an asset to the film, and as I was watching it I realized that I knew this guy, I could not put my finger on it. Then I figured out he was from Sons of Anarchy.
DB: Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood, he is an amazing character actor. I grew up watching him on Deadwood; I was a huge Deadwood fan and then with Sons of Anarchy, I am a big Sons of Anarchy fan. I got his phone number from a friend of mine that worked with him on something. I called him out of the blue, and I said, “I got a movie for you and its called Abattoir, and I wrote it for you.” This was a true story when I created Abattoir I wrote the character of Crone for him. He agreed to meet with me, and we hit it off. We did three projects before Abattoir, Devil’s Carnival 1, Devil’s Carnival 2 and then we did this music video. I kept promising, “we are going to make Abattoir, I promise” and then a few years later we actually got to make Abattoir, and it was exciting.
iH: What about Lin Shaye, how did that happen?
DB: I have been friends will Lin for years. She has been one of those people that I grew up watching from A Nightmare On Elm Street to Something About Mary; she is an icon. Again, it was funny the first two people every cast in this was David Callie because I wrote the script for him and Lin Shaye. I have never really had a role for Lin, I have done many movies and there has really been nothing for her. So when constructing this project with Chris we agreed to make something for Lin Shaye, we wanted to work with her, and Allie was written for her. She was attached to the project two years before it got made. She is just so awesome, sweet amazing professional friend because of this. It is amazing because my wife and I hang out with her quite a bit, she has dinner parties at her house; she is just amazing.
iH: That part was totally a Lin Shaye part!
DB: You know what was great? I really can’t take credit for it at all; she did it all. As she came out of wardrobe and hair, she said, “I’m going to experiment with something.” She came out with this pompadours poof thing; I didn’t get it [laughs] I said, “Lin, what are you doing?” And she says, “trust me on this I’ve got an idea.” And then in the scene when she is in the mirror, and she takes the hair off, and she brushes it out and you realize that she was basically putting on an act for this girl was chilling. And that scene where she is in the mirror and she puts her hands on her face is just, [speechless] so amazing.
iH: Yes, it was, and I did not see that coming at all.
DB: She is just a phenomenal person.
iH: When I saw this film advertised on Facebook and Lin Shaye’s name was attached to it I immediately knew I need to see this movie.
DB: I think that we really lucked out with our cast. Joe Anderson who is the Humprey Bogart of this and Jessica Lowdnes and J LaRose who did a cameo in this and he is a guy that I have worked with like 12 times now. He was the real estate guy that sold the house. We lucked out with our cast a lot because it is not easy dialogue, there is a cadence to the way they speak in it. It is very 1940s, , I’ and 50’s hard-boiled detective.
iH: This story has that feel immediately. I remember looking around and checking out the tech and wondering am I in the 50s?
DB: That was a big fight the entire time with the investors and the producers. Julie Tamer who is my favorite Director made a move called Tidus. It was Shakespeare’s Tidus but within it but they will be in a castle playing arcade games. Or they will be in the middle of a war scene but driving cars. This is supposed to be like 100 years; I love that! So what I wanted to do with this is to keep the dialogue with the two main characters with Grady and Juliette to be that noir speak, but put them in the modern world. Yes, they have iPhones, and you see flat screen TVs’. One of my favorites is Julia’s apartment, if you look at it, the production design is amazing. She has a flat screen TV but underneath the flat screen TV is a tube TV. She has a CD player, but she has a tube radio, and I love that. She chooses to live in this era to talk like this and to dress like this, and her sister is a great example. When Julie walks into her sister’s place, she has the pompadour, the pencil skirt, and her sister looks normal. It is one of those “what the fuck?” things that I love about movies. The audience is like what the fuck? Is this like the 40s’ or 50s’, what am I looking at? It is just kind of one of those gi Miki E things as a director that I love doing.
iH: It did screw with my mind, for sure!
DB: That is good.
iH: I did enjoy it. It was not bad at all. The film really had that eerie tone to it. The house, the neighborhood, just everything, real gloomy.
DB: A funny story, not funny for me but funny in retrospect. The sister’s house where the murders took place was a much different house in New Orleans and it was a much bigger set piece in the movie. In the morning we were going to be filming there canceled on us because she found out it was going to be a horror film and she didn’t want that in her house. She had kids so she didn’t want her kids to know that a horror movie was shot there and so we lost the house. Literally that morning we had to find another house and we just went into a house and shot it as was. It ended up working great because it was a star contradiction from Julia who is this classic infantile dame and her sister has this normal looking house, normal looking everything.
iH: It came together, seamlessly. I first saw that this was based on a novel? Comic Books?
DB: So I originally went into Radical Studios and the president of the company at the time Berry Lavine sat down with me, and I said I have this story, the story was of Jebediah Crone and the mythology was so dense, I have such mythology behind this. He said, “Stop, this is way too big to be a movie, there is way too much here. This is like a trilogy. What if we started this as a graphic novel? Let’s do a six issue run and start to tell some of this story; we will see how it works and then we will move it onto a film at that point.” So we did a six issue run, a different story completely. It is not a remake of this, it is set in the 80s, ‘ and it involves a real estate agent named Richard Ashwald who sells a house to Jebediah Crone and what happens to his family upon doing this. That was the graphic novel that was great, very eerie kind of companion piece to this. So the idea was we were going to keep telling stories in the Abattoir universe in different mediums. So we did the graphic novel, the six-issue comic book, we did the movie, we have another movie that we are doing called The Dwelling which is a different story in the Abattoir universe. We are going to keep telling this unique stories about this weird character, Jebediah Crone what he is doing and why he is doing it.
iH: So, it will focus on him?
DB: Yeah, the next one is set in the 80s’ as well. Just like the same way this is really not set in the 50s’. It is really not set in the 80s it has that 89s sensibility to it. But it is another story of another person who falls victim to Jebediah Crone. I think he is just a cool character. I want to explore him more and spend more time with that character.
iH: I think that you might have something here, a franchise with him. I really got that slight, Children of The Corn vibe; I was digging it.
DB: Children of The Corn is my favorite. You know what is funny? Not funny, again sad for me [Laughs], I was supposed to remake Children of The Corn right after Saw III. Dimension owned the rights to Children of The Corn and growing up as a kid Children of The Corn was one of my favorite movies. Again, I love that religious idea that can go into a town and infect it. The idea of “He Who Walks Behind The Rows” and this way Jebediah Crone goes into a town and infects it, and how has the town kill the kids. Cults just fascinate me.
iH: Like you, I watched all of those films when I was a kid. It was a great all back to those films.
DB: Well, thank you very much.
iH: I was going to ask you what horror films influence you?
DB: Wicker Man, Seven, and any film noir anything with Humphrey Bogart, I love. Movies outside of them like Out of the Past or Touch of Evil, I just love the talk the vernacular or the speak. I love Brick with Joseph-Gordon-Levitt and Rian Johnson. But I think in this there was a time early on we thought about not putting ghosts in the movie. The original idea was to make this a very weird cult film, a cult leader Jebediah Crone that goes into a town and does this horrible deed and there was never going to be ghosts in it. They were going to have this house, and she was going to be running through this house of death and destruction. I love movies that deal with cults; I love movies that deal with weird people that come in and do things. Children of The Corn is a great one with Malachai and Isaac that’s why I love Wicker Man so much, this weird town that keeps a secret. So I love things like that. Towns that harbor these dark, dark secrets.
iH: Like Village of the Damned, kind of the same thing.
DB: Exactly, yeah. So those are my favorite types of movies. And for The Dwelling more specifically is that kind of idea. What really sucks now with all this press on Abattoir it has me reinvigorated about doing The Dwelling because it basically picks off where this left off [Abattoir]. A prequel, not the same thing I think that the audience wanted to spend more time in the Abattoir world and the next one is Abattoir all of the time.
iH: That is great, is the script complete?
DB: The script is done. We wrote the script right after Abattoir. This project was a long project to get made, and we had to wait for this one to come out before we could do anything with the sequel. The thing that is cool about the sequel is that it exists completely by itself, meaning that you would not have had to see Abattoir, you could completely watch it by itself, and it holds up. You don’t need to know anything about the comic book or this movie; that’s why we didn’t call it Abattoir 2, we called it The Dwelling. You asked about movies that inspired me as well; I think as a filmmaker the Polansky trilogy of Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Tenant are still one of my favorites which are horrors that befall apartment dwellers or home dwellers. I love ideas that deal with where you live; that is so primal. That is why I made Mother’s Day as well.
iH: Oh, I absolutely love that movie! Rebecca De Mornay was fantastic!
DB: Yes, she was amazing!
iH: That is on thing about me. I always make movies about where I am in my life and when I did Mother’s Day I had just bought my first house. So I think that we feel safe in these environments and then when someone breaks into the environment and shows that you’re not safe, we see this in the first scene of Abattoir, the sister’s family being murdered.
DB: It is your safe place.
iH: Yeah, you think it is your safe place. We put these superficial locks on the doors like that is going to stop anyone, and the reality is that it is not going to stop anyone. We had just put a fence up on our house, it is a really nice elegant fence, and I spent thousands of dollars to put it up, and the reality is you can jump right over it. The locks that are on our doors, you can kick our doors in. It really does not do anything. I have security cameras all around my house; that doesn’t do anything. We had someone break into our house, and they looked right at our cameras.
DB: Same thing with packages on the doorstep. They will walk right up and steal packages.
iH: Exactly, we had packages stolen last Christmas. We saw their faces; we saw their car; they don’t care. And for me, those are my favorite types of movies that deal with home and the things that happen in your home. In this case, the town they live in, you feel safe because you have a community and that community can be perverted very easily.
DB: For sure, when it attacks home it really is something and like you said all the security measures are all superficial.
iH: The special effects were great in Abattoir.
DB: Thank you very much, it was exciting this movie done for no money and very little time and seeing the final product looks great.
-ABOUT THE AUTHOR-
Ryan T. Cusick is a writer for ihorror.com and very much enjoys conversation and writing about anything within the horror genre. Horror first sparked his interest after watching the original, The Amityville Horrorwhen he was the tender age of three. Ryan lives in California with his wife and Eleven-year-old daughter, who is also expressing interest in the horror genre. Ryan recently received his Master’s Degree in Psychology and has aspirations to write a novel. Ryan can be followed on Twitter @Nytmare112