INTERVIEW BY JAMES SIMPSON.
Some weeks ago The Gore Splattered Corner was lucky enough to take a sneak peak at upcoming British horror Devil’s Tower. The review went down so well GSC was able to get an interview with the movie’s director Owen Tooth. So here is that very interview!
GSC: How did Devil’s Tower come about?
OWEN: Adam (writer) and I had worked together on quite a few shorts which were getting great screenings at horror festivals, so we started working together on a feature length screenplay.
Adam had been wanting to write a modern ghost story, something where one of our urban spaces is haunted instead of a grand Victorian stately home. We’d been speaking about setting something in a tower block and began working on the story when a few news items came out about people who’d died in flats and remained undiscovered: one young, successful woman had died in front of her TV and nobody had visited or wondered where she had gone for three years.
That’s three years rotting away in front of a TV set with nobody caring enough to seek her out and give her a proper burial. That really struck a note with me, the idea that in a flat block where hundreds of people live within feet of each other, we can be so uninvolved with each other that we don’t notice or investigate someone disappearing – and that no friends or family knew enough about her to worry or come looking.
I know I’d become one hell of a vengeful spirit ready to kill just about everybody if that was my fate. That was the idea that formed the starting point of Devil’s Tower.
GSC: The film seems to touch upon a lot of genres, was this deliberate?
OWEN: Yeah, I’m a massive horror fan and I love how wide a genre it is. There’s so much you can do in horror. I love creepy horror films but I’ve got a huge soft spot for a good horror comedy, folk horror, J-horror, splatter gore, you name it!
I find drama compelling and I was keen for the film to have a spine of realism in terms of the character’s feelings and actions, but I also wanted to make sure it didn’t stay serious for long – I wanted people to be smiling by the time the credits rolled.
It was a tough mix to pull off and I’ve got to give credit to Adam and also my editors here, who were constantly suggesting new ways for the film to flow.
GSC: Was it difficult as a director trying to get so many different emotions out of the actors?
OWEN: I was really spoiled with a great cast and a brilliant crew, so that wasn’t an issue. Your actors have got to feel safe to experiment and really go for it so that they can do their best. We had a fantastic time on set and the crew enjoyed themselves loads which made for a relaxed atmosphere where we could all try out different ideas.
GSC: How did you come to cast Pallett, Clement/Stafford and Mewes? It’s a bit of an odd mix.
OWEN: We auditioned all the parts except for Jason’s role. We auditioned Roxy for a far smaller role and she totally blew us away – we were floored not just by her performance, but also by how easy it was for her to hone her performance to what we needed. A minute after she left, I realised that we’d found our lead actress. We ended up searching through the city in the rain for her, trying to get her back before she got to the train station. We finally found her and gave her some of Sara’s lines to read and again, she was absolutely perfect. I’m so happy we cast her in the lead, she brings so much to the role.
Jessica Jane’s role was great fun to audition! We auditioned loads of actresses for that one and it was a real laugh, but Jessica-Jane just brought the perfect high-energy madness we needed.
Jason’s a great actor and it was unusual for him I think to be called on to act in some heavily dramatic scenes rather than a comedy. In Devil’s Tower, he plays Sid, not Jay, and that was exciting for all of us.
GSC: Would you work with any of them again?
OWEN: Hell no, they’re all maniacs!
GSC: What was your favourite scene in Devil’s Tower to direct?
OWEN: Wow, that’s a tough one. Um… I’m going to have to go with the dancing scene! It’s a scene where we see into the mind of the villain as she has a bizarre fantasy. The acting’s over the top, on purpose, and it’s just a weird, sexy, dark slice of what goes on in her mind. There’s a stunt at the end of the sequence that we shot three times where Jason smashes Roxy’s head through a TV set. Roxy, dressed like a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Kim Cattrall, did the stunt herself (with Amed the stunt supervisor’s advice) and we all just had so much fun shooting it. It was a moment every person in the production could have a bit of fun with – costume, makeup, camera, set design, cast, music… plus Jason Mewes looks fantastic with a pencil moustache!
GSC: What are your hopes for the film as it approaches its DVD/Blu-ray release?
OWEN: Honestly? This is all a dream come true for me. I’ve spent my life watching horror movies over and over and I can’t believe something I directed will be on shelves in just a few weeks time! I just hope that the fans I’ve made it for will get a kick out of it and enjoy some of the new ideas we’ve thrown in there.
GSC: The Gore Splattered Corner review for your film has been one of our most read: what else would you tell our readers to ‘sell’ them on your movie?
OWEN: It’s got a great soundtrack, some very cool deaths which still leave my heart pumping, and it shows a real love of some of the very best horror films. It’s a smart story which goes meta at points but without getting bogged down in trying to be clever.
And it was made, with love, especially for the kind of people who would visit a site like the Gore Splattered Corner!
GSC: What next for your career?
OWEN: I’m spinning a lot of plates at the moment. I’ve got two fairly nasty horror scripts and two brilliant horror comedies ready to go. It feels silly to say, but I really can’t talk about them just yet. If things pan out, there are some brilliant things on the horizon to look out for!
Devil’s Tower is on sale September 15th from Monster Pictures.