Upgrade, the sci-fi thriller from writer/director Leigh Whannell and starring Logan Marshall-Green, is headed to theaters June 1, 2018.
Set in the not-so-distant future, Marshall-Green stars as Grey Trace, a technophobic man who becomes a quadriplegic after a horrific accident. Grey is offered a new chance at a normal life when an experimental computer chip called Stem is implanted in his neck, but that’s really only the beginning of his new adventure.
The film, produced by the geniuses at Blumhouse, is already garnering a lot of online buzz, and Whannell and Marshall-Green recently spoke with iHorror about the experience of creating this exciting and dangerous new world.
“It’s funny to think about how long ago it was that I started writing the script,” Whannell laughed, “and it makes me reflect on how long it takes to get a film made.”
The story started for Whannell when he was sitting in his back yard. The idea of a quadriplegic man being given a new lease on life through technology excited the writer, and he began researching what others had written about bridging the gap between technology and humans.
“There are a lot of books by Ray Kurzwell where he talks about the future and the singularity when humans merge with technology,” the writer/director explained. “I was so excited by that idea because it was exactly what I was going for in the script.”
As the project came together, and it was time to look for someone to take on that rather daunting task of playing Grey, Logan Marshall-Green quickly moved to the top of the list. Once he was cast in the role, he quickly went to work playing with different ways of moving and using his body so that he could portray a man who in many ways becomes a passenger in the active aspects of his life.
“I started sending Leigh videos of myself doing very pedestrian movements. Sitting down, drinking water, taking a bit of an apple,” the actor said. “I would do them as Grey, and then I would do them a second time as Grey and Stem together.”
Neither the director nor the actor wanted the movements to seem robotic in the ways we’ve seen before on film. Instead, they focused on more efficient ways of moving that could potentially come from the tech component.
“Ultimately, it took a lot of work with a brilliant stunt team and movement coaches to make it seem as though Grey was a passenger with Stem,” Marshall-Green pointed out. “We were working our butts off from the neck down while trying to stay as neutral as possible and tell an emotional story from the neck up.”
“There were so many roles that Logan had to take on,” Whannell explained further. “He would train with a movement coach, then do fight choreography, and he also had to learn to use the wheelchair and play a quadriplegic.”
The role is full of obstacles, but for Marshall-Green, that’s really what acting is all about, and it was all about getting the small details correct to make the Grey/Stem performance work.
“I got to spend some time with someone who is quadriplegic, and I knew I had to be true to him and to his experience when we were telling that part of the story,” the actor said. “Little things like, I’m a nail biter. I can’t do that in this character, and while I was in it, I didn’t do it. It’s funny, though, because I do now. It came back as soon as the role was over.”
More importantly for the actor, Whannell’s script and direction allowed him to act with his full body and embrace the physicality of movement and body language in a way that many films roles can’t offer.
“I came up in the theater,” he said. “I love the ability to act from head to toe which is something you don’t get in film. You generally isolate your performance to your face and shoulders mostly, and I was grateful that Leigh gave me the opportunity to tell this story with my whole body.”
As filming began, Whannell had one more surprise up his sleeve to help make the performance as real as possible.
In the film, Stem has a voice that only Grey can hear and they can communicate internally. So, Whannell placed Simon Maiden, the actor voicing Stem, out of sight, but allowed the two actors to communicate via an earpiece and mic.
“I wanted them to be able to interrupt each other and interact,” Whannell said. “I wanted them to play those scenes together like any two actors would.”
“It was another ball to juggle in the middle of those fight scenes,” Marshall-Green added, “but we got a really positive effect from it.”
The actor worked hard to pull double duty in those fight scenes, but also really focused on Grey’s evolution with Stem throughout the film, and it’s fascinating as Grey goes from a bystander to an active participant in what’s going on around him. In the final stages of the film, Stem may be doing the fighting, but Grey is actively watching for danger and working with the implant confidently.
Upgrade is set to hit theaters nationwide on June 1, 2018. Check out the trailer below!
[Fantastic Fest] ‘Piggy’ Filled With Incredible Heart and Wonderful Terror
Writer and director, Carlota Pereda fascinatingly creates a world in which we are given equal helpings of moments of big heart and a creeping terror. Piggy is one of those rare horror films that could have stood on its own without the horror and been an Oscar-worthy bit of effective drama. The turn from compelling drama to shifting genre is as refreshing as it is entertaining.
Piggy follows Sara (Laura Galán) a young girl who assists her family in their small-town butcher shop. Sara is often bullied due to her being an overweight teen. The small town and its cliques make for a soul-crushing daily life for Sara. She is constantly picked on, called names and even physically tormented by the popular bullies. When Sara ends up having to walk home following an assault by the bullies, Sara comes face to face with a serial killer who actually treats the young girl as an equal – not picking on her or poking fun. The duo begins their strange cat and mouse dance of constantly changing twisted mutual admiration.
The small quaint town featured in Piggy is very minimalistic – matching the incredibly stripped-down, heart-on-its-sleeve story. That atmosphere is one that makes for a brilliant spot to match Sara and her sensitive nature.
Galán is breathtaking in her role as Sara. It’s an incredibly demanding and revealing role that constantly has her being abused both physically and mentally. The constant emotional terrorism surrounding her combined with body shaming becomes a terrifying small-town presence that ends up being more terrifying and warped than the habits of the serial killer.
Much like Sara herself, the film forces you to side with the serial killer. Despite, his cold-blooded actions against the people of the town, he still has a big enough heart to see Sara as an equal and someone who he even fancies at times. In any other situation its heartbreaking to realize that he and Sara could have easily been in a relationship if it hadn’t been for that whole serial killing thing.
Piggy handles bullying and body shaming by shifting the tables and working the story with as much humor and fun as it works with serious themes. Incredibly, the serial killer isn’t as disturbing as the torment that Sara receives. The juxtaposition between those two things is an incredibly compelling exploration for film.
The film allows you to side with the killer and entirely has you cheering for Sara. Galán gives a breathtaking performance that will have audiences siding with her and willing to follow her down whichever path she chooses to take. Piggy is an incredible work that has as much heart and nerves as it does horror.
Piggy arrives in Alamo Drafthouses on October 7 and in theaters and On Demand beginning October 14. The film also won best horror film at Fantastic Fest.
‘Bones and All’ Trailer Introduces Savage World of Cannibals and Lovers
Call Me By Your Name and Suspiria director, Luca Guadagnino is back with a true masterpiece that explores cannibals and lovers. Bones and All is a fascinating film that currently has my vote for Best Film of the Year. It really is that good. It stars Timothée Chalamet and Taylor Russell in an incredibly brutal road trip film.
The official synopsis fo Bones and All goes like this:
BONES AND ALL is a story of first love between Maren, a young woman learning how to survive on the margins of society, and Lee, an intense and disenfranchised drifter; a liberating road odyssey of two young people coming into their own, searching for identity and chasing beauty in a perilous world that cannot abide who they are.
The film stars Taylor Russell, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg, André Holland, Chloë Sevigny, David Gordon Green, Jessica Harper, Jake Horowitz, and Mark Rylance.
Get ready to dine with cannibals and lovely monsters when Bones and All arrives in theaters beginning November 23.
[Fantastic Fest] ‘Hellraiser’ Fascinates by Carving New Damnation and Games
In a world of reinvention and retooling, there are often a lot of letdowns when it comes to our favorite films and TV shows. More often than not we are disappointed by the retelling. It is great to announce that David Bruckner’s recent Hellraiser reimagining is incredible and makes use of Author, Clive Barker’s original parts to incredibly give us the familiar while also carving its entirely own fascinatingly dark path.
Hellraiser tells the story of Riley (Odessa A’Zion,) an addict trying to live her life and resist all temptation. When Riley and her boyfriend burglarize a shipping container, they come upon the puzzle box. The box immediately begins to draw attention to it begging them to push and pull its corners. Little do they know that the box’s offerings will change their lives forever.
The backdrop of Hellraiser is a dreary one. It is entirely filled with a sheen of darkness and grime throughout. The entire city and places the characters visit all become participating characters in the film itself. An amazing work of production design around every corner.
Director, Bruckner is commanding with the darkness. He is careful to control Barker’s bleakness and is great at it. Between himself and screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski the trio actively and effectively manage to solve their own puzzle box of the macabre and the constantly invigorating.
The Cenobites are back with a fully new roaster of incredibly creative beings. Each of them has a patchwork of skin in which flesh itself is what they wear. There aren’t any more bits of leather clothing that brought the legendary, Doug Bradley to life, instead, their wardrobe is made organically. Another fascinating detail of their look is brought about by these carefully placed pins with pearl tips. A touch of The Hellpriest’s personal touch.
The Hellpriest just as revelatory as the film. Jamie Clayton pays homage to and simultaneously reinvents The Priest from the ground up. A head full of pearl-tipped pins along with the fascinating touches from The Leviathan that add pieces of the box to her as well as the same creative organic wardrobe utilized by the other Cenobites. Horror fans have nothing but a brilliant experience ahead of them. Clayton makes the role her own and brilliantly creates her own spine-tingling voice for the character. A terrifying rasp, that is delivered with authority making her lines stand out with imposing importance.
Ben Lovett creates a brilliant score that moves and shifts around as much as the puzzle box itself. Throughout it is entirely its own with tiny shifts to single notes of the famous Christopher Young score. The entire thing is devilishly done and creates an entire audio Cenobite all on its own. By the film’s finale, Lovett and Young become one in a chill-inducing crescendo.
Hellraiser is a fascinatingly dark work that combines Barker’s worlds and sensibilities into a brilliant haunting cocktail. There are hints of Damnation Game, Weaveworld and of course The Hellbound Heart. The hands shifting this puzzle box were tender and caring with Barker’s material. That reverence produces one of the best Hellraiser’s to date. Bruckner’s film gets back to diving beneath the flesh of terror. Jamie Clayton entirely lives in and reinvents The Hellpriest in every turn. Hellraiser brilliantly cuts, carves and pulls nerves. Dark, provocative, and filled with Clive Barker’s brilliance – Hellraiser is finally back.