Brandon Christensen’s Still/Born began with a simple set of images: a woman giving birth to twins, a look from the nurse as the second twin emerges into the world, and the same woman standing between two cribs…one of which is empty.
He was just finishing up his work as producer on Colin Minihan’s It Stains the Sands Red. It was a grueling shoot in the desert, and as the two were discussing possibilities for Christensen’s first feature in the director’s chair, they decided that the Blumhouse method might be the best route.
So, setting aside the image he had in his mind, the two began to scour scripts that offered minimal sets, a small cast, and atmospheric tension, but nothing seemed to fit the bill. Before long, they returned to Christensen’s idea, and this time they realized they were really onto something.
“I started building around that idea of a woman who is dealing with loss,” Christensen says. “That led us down this rabbit hole of postpartum depression and psychosis, and we learned a lot about how these things affect new mothers.”
With the addition of a supernatural element in the guise of a Mesopotamian demon by the name of Lamashtu who steals babies to feast on their flesh, the two men knew they had hit upon a subject that exactly fit what they wanted to make.
“We’re dealing with a main character whose inner thoughts are where we are living and breathing,” he says. “She thinks one thing is happening and then she thinks it’s something else, but she’s never sure so we, as an audience, are never sure until it’s too late to turn back.”
With a finished script, they’d soon cast Christie Burke as the young mother in question, and were headed to Christensen’s home town, Calgary, to begin filming. When they arrived, however, they found that the house they’d rented for the shoot had been sold out from under them.
Scrambling to find another location led them to the director’s family home where he’d planned to stay during filming.
In the end, he, Burke, Minihan, and another of the film’s producers ended up actually living on the set while filming.
“It was kind of a Jack [Nicholson] in The Shining moment,” Christensen laughs. “I woke up on set every day and I went to bed every night on set. I didn’t have a car so there was really no escape.”
It might not have been the ideal situation, but the director has high praise for his crew and especially for his lead actress.
“The first six days of shooting were just her [Christie] and the baby, and a lot of the horror stuff happens while she’s alone,” he says. “She went through a huge gauntlet of emotions in those first few days especially, but she was amazing and pushed right through it.”
The film relies heavily on Burke. In many ways, if she hadn’t worked then the film itself wouldn’t have worked.
Luckily, the proved she was up to the task. Her performance is a lesson in the strength of a mother in the face of a threat to her child.
As filming came to a close, Christensen had time to reflect on the things he’d learned from his first time directing a feature film, and he definitely feels he learned a couple of valuable lessons in the process.
“There were times when I was focused on the wrong thing and it would bleed into a scene and I regret that now, but it’s like trying to sprint a marathon,” he points out. “In the end I learned to focus on story and performance first. If you do that, then a lot of other things will just fall into place.”
Still/Born will be given a limited release on February 9, 2018 and will be available on VOD on the same day. Check out the trailer below!
‘Piggy’ Wins Best Horror Film at Fantastic Fest
Director, Carlota Pereda has a lot to be excited about today her gory coming-of-age film, Piggy just won Fantastic Fest’s Best Horror Film Award! The film is incredible and will have you cheering for the outsider and damning the bullies to their fates. It’s an incredibly endearing film that has as much heart as it does terror. It is really no to be missed.
The synopsis for Piggy goes like this:
With the summer sun beating down on her rural Spanish town, Sara hides away in her parent’s butcher shop. A teenager whose excess weight makes her the target of incessant bullying, she flees a clique of capricious girls who torment her at the town pool, only to stumble upon them being brutally kidnapped by a stranger, who drives off with them in his van. When the police begin asking questions, Sara keeps quiet. Intrigued by the stranger — an interest that’s mutual — she’s torn between revealing the truth and protecting the man who saved her.
Piggy stars Laura Galán, Richard Holmes, Carmen Machi, Irene Ferreiro & Camielle Aguilar, with the special collaborations of Pilar Castro & Claudia Salas.
Don’t miss Piggy when it arrives on demand on October 14 and in Alamo Drafthouses on October 7.
Creepy Smilers Caught on Camera at Major League Baseball Games
The horror movie Smile is opening on Friday, and in a genius bit of marketing, the studio gave horror and baseball fans a creepy meta experience this past Friday.
On September 23, viewers of three Major League Baseball (MLB) games had people in the stands, near the cameras, who had disturbingly evil smiles across their faces, sometimes for innings at a time.
Innings and Grinnings
Sports Illustrated reported on the story citing three games in which the grinning people appeared: Red Sox-Yankees, Mets-Athletics, and Cardinals-Dodgers.
The stunt was effective. Unnerved fans and viewers quickly went to social media and posted about the smilers, making the whole gag a success.
But sports fans weren’t the only ones creeped out by the grinning ghouls. During the live broadcast of Good Morning America, behind hosts Hoda Kotb and Al Roker, a scare actor could be seen with the same evil Cheshire grin watching them from the street window.
The Psychotic Smirk
This deceptively trustworthy facial expression is known as the Psychotic smirk according to tvtropes.com.
“The Psychotic Smirk is a favorite with Big Bads everywhere. There’s no need to broadcast just how dangerous they are – everyone’s got a pretty good idea already, but no one can prove it. The important thing is to smile with only one side of the mouth. Sometimes, it’s accompanied by a Finger Wag as if to say “Nice try, sucker” if the hero had attempted to defeat them.”
That concept might be behind the plot of Smile which follows Dr. Rose Cotter who after experiencing a traumatic event notices that people start to smile just before becoming murderously unhinged.
Sosie Bacon — Kevin Bacon’s daughter — portrays the troubled Cotter in the film and she says it was a tough role, and audiences aren’t ready.
“Truthfully, I wasn’t fully aware of how much this part would wear on me when I began the movie,” Bacon told Orange Magazine. “It’s physically demanding, because your body doesn’t understand the difference between acting and real life. But honestly, I don’t know that anything can prepare you for an experience like ‘Smile.’”
Smile opens in theaters on Friday, September 30.
‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ is Going All Out With a 3D Halloween Special
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is back, y’all! For a huge 3D Halloween special that brings back Jonah and the Satellite of Love crew. The guys will be screening 1961’s The Mask 3D and holding a special costume contest where fans are invited to send in their own Halloween costumes.
If you are interested in submitting your costumes you have to do that by October 16. You can submit those costume photos RIGHT HERE.
The MST3K event description goes like this:
Join Jonah and the bots for the premiere of The Mask 3D, a 1961 horror film about a cursed skull mask, and the first time the crew of the Satellite of Love will be subjected to a 3D movie! Filmed in iconic anaglyph 3D, the episode will be viewable with any pair of red and blue 3D glasses. A non-3D version of the episode will also be available.
In order to watch the MST3K Halloween special, you need to tune into The Gizmoplex. It is available through iOS, Android, Roku, Amazon Fire TV and more.
The big MST3K event arives on October 28. For more information on how to watch the Halloween Special head over HERE.