Exclusive: Abattoir clip and interview with filmmaker Darren Lynn Bousman!

When you step inside the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, you get a sense of something haunted or otherworldly. There have been many a tale of strange activity at this iconic location. Thus, it is the perfect place to host interviews for the latest spooky tale from Darren Lynn Bousman. The unique thriller ABATTOIR is all about location after all. The unusual haunted house thriller stars Jessica Lowndes, Joe Anderson, Lin Shaye and Dayton Callie, and it uses Bousman’s sense of horror quite nicely.

With the film’s upcoming release, we are thrilled to present an exclusive scene to give AITH readers just a taste of the spooky goings on in ABATTOIR. In addition, we offer an in-depth look into the scene courtesy of Mr. Bousman himself. The writer/director discussed many of the insights about making a ghost story, in particular one that hasn’t been done before. That in itself is a challenge that few can take on and master. Yet Bousman has done a fine job here. 

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“How do you even try to do a haunted house movie when you have things like… James Wan has kind of killed it for us all with THE CONJURING and INSIDIOUS movies,” he said with a smile. “You’ve seen the same movie told so many times and so many different ways so it was hard to find a new way, or a new way in to tell a ghost story or a haunted house story. So for me it was always cool instead of making it about the ghosts and those events, but making it about the construction of it, and bringing them all here and now like an environment where it is just these macabre things.”

He then brought up the anthology television series from the early Eighties that a few of us may be familiar with. “As a kid - I don’t know if I’d love it now - but I loved the Friday the 13th TV-show. The idea that all these cursed artifacts are in this one location, well what if all those cursed artifacts again brought along all the tragedy and death that came with with them. That was kind of what we were trying to do with this.”

While much of ABATTOIR feels closer to a very different kind of genre courtesy of the old film noir inspiration, which Darren addresses later on, we did talk about the design of the new film. It was especially exciting once the feature heads into the final act. Without giving too much away, this sequence manages to create a horrific landscape that is not only terrifying, but it also has a strangely beautiful quality. It is a kind of artistic nightmare that is equally compelling and disturbing. It is a sight to behold, especially for a movie with a limited budget.

“What I’m most proud of now, looking back on it, was how little money we had and how little time we had - we shot the movie in twenty or twenty-one days. It was all on location. We had no sets, so everything was designed that way on location. It was a nightmare to try and pull if off as quickly as we could. It literally was one take and move on, one take move on, one take move on. I don’t think I’ve worked that quickly ever on anything. It was a complete run and gun guerrilla thing, and I think when you’re shooting that quickly you have no idea what its going to look like, or even if its going to look like anything. You don’t have time to think. You just have to go, go, go.

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He continued, “ When we got to the edit room, I actually got to see the production design and the lighting. I was just kind of like, holy shit, this is beautiful. It looks cool.” And when it came to that colors that bleed throughout this feature, “I think that was one of the early ideas that Michael Fimognari [the cinematographer] and I had was. I wanted all of the sets to be almost a tapestry that you would hang on your wall. And so everything I wanted to be rich and detailed and beautiful and colorful. I think him and Jennifer Spence [the production designer] did a great job of the overall look and aesthetic and giving it something that wasn’t reminiscent of things I’d done before. It didn’t look like SAW, it didn’t look like REPO, it was its own kind of thing.”

And about the genre. One of the most exciting things about ABATTOIR is the balance of taking on what is essentially a film noir inspired mystery. As the film began I myself felt a bit of a nostalgic connection with the way the characters spoke and the way they dressed. And yes, that was all part of the plan for Darren. Never one to remain predictable, Mr. Bousman had other intentions than just the same old same old. This is after all, the man who was able to merge musical with gore with REPO and THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL.

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As far as the noir inspired influence is concerned, “The whole movie was originally supposed to be like that.”, he added, “It was written by a guy named Christopher Monfette who is a great writer. What I love about Chris’ writing - he sent me a script ten years ago that was based on one of Clive Barker’s Books of Blood called ‘Down Satan’ and I loved it. I loved the dialogue in it. He wrote in this almost hyper-realistic vernacular.”

“At the time we were creating ABATTOIR, I was watching a ton of film noir. And I was watching all these old [Humphrey] Bogart films and I loved how snappy the dialogue was. It was never real. It never sounded real. It was hyper-stylized which means you pay attention to what they are saying. And to some degree it is like what [Quentin] Tarantino does. No one talks like that and that is what makes it so cool. So I wanted to do the same thing. I wanted it to be something that is very talky and very overly wordy.” 

He also recognizes that some may not be enamored with the stylized dialogue. “ I think that is going to be one of the main critiques about the film. It is not a jump scare or in-your-face violent gore fest. It’s talking. It is a lot of talking and a lot of dense talking. But there is poetry in what they are saying, and there is cadence in how they talk which I always am drawn to. To me it’s almost like a weird cross between David Mamet meets Aaron Sorkin.”

“Chris had in his writing, this very Aaron Sorkin kind of thing about him, and when I first got the script it was all that. So over the top in its awesomeness, that the producers and investors said you’ve got to tone this back, ‘No one is going to sit through two hours of this’ but it was awesome. They talked like they do in BRICK a little bit, like instead of calling it newspapers they called it ‘the black and white.’ Instead of lights it was ‘illumination’ like ‘up the illumination, hand me the black and white.’ And I loved it but it became this thing of you are trying to sell a genre movie and that is kind of more ‘arty,’ so we had to meet in the middle. So the middle was, you can have the first act in that kind of weird, hyper-stylized thing, but it’s got to start to become a horror film. But I love that.”

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In one scene - the one we are featuring as an exclusive clip here at AITH - one character reveals information about a past crime and how it relates to the current story. It is a brutal moment, but the film wasn’t always a violent one. “There was not a lot of violence in the movie originally. It was upon watching the early edits where we were like, ‘oh shit, we gotta add shit in here because…’, I think it’s awesome but I don’t know how much the audience will think it’s awesome when forced to sit through ninety-five minutes of talking. So as the movie progressed, like on day eighteen or nineteen, we were like [we need] more violence, more blood, put it up.”

“I think the edit kind of changed as well because we did a lot of reshaping of the movie in the editing. Originally you didn’t meet Jedediah Crone [Dayton Callie] until sixty-five minutes in. And then we were like, shit, we gotta move him up sooner and move violence up quicker. So it kind of dictated that, because it is always a balancing act between what does the audience want to see and where is the artistic integrity you want to do. For me, I wanted to make a very slow burn film noir that had elements of horror. It wasn’t a horror movie. It had elements of horror. It was a very slow burn. Then you look at it and realize it might be too slow. You need audiences to get to the Abattoir but that is sixty-five to seventy minutes into the movie, so you have to keep them there. So we started to intersperse violence into it.”

As we prepared to watch the scene together, he added, “That was one of those scenes. Originally it wasn’t like that. Originally it was just he actor in the scene, J. LaRose. Fun story about J. LaRose - this is our twelfth or eleventh project together - he originally just sat at a desk and gave his monologue to her. And then we looked at the edit and we were like, ‘f*ck, that’s like a four minute scene of him just talking’ and I was like what if we go back and shoot what he is actually talking about.” And shoot the scene they did, and yes, it is brutal and definitely adds a heightened level or terror to the proceedings.

At this time, both Darren and I watched the scene in question together. As it played he went further into the reason why the scene was used - furthering our discussion earlier - and how it expanded the story of ABATTOIR.

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“So in this one we went inside his mind and his thoughts and Julia [Jessica Lowndes] is there as well. THE BOONDOCK SAINTS does it a lot which I love. There are some great scenes in that where they do it. So in this scenario or sequence, I wanted to do a couple of things. I wanted to show violence early on in the movie and I wanted to introduce you to Jebediah Crone. In the first cut of the movie we didn’t see Jebediah until about sixty-minutes in, and I feel that with a movie based on this character like Freddy Krueger, you need to introduce him earlier. So we actually decided to go inside his mind and show the violence, and introduce you to Crone earlier. And that was kind of the idea behind this scene. I think it is cool because it’s not just him talking and it’s not just a scene of violence. It’s actually him narrating you and taking you into the violence with the lead actress. So kind of a surreal moment in the movie.”

We’d like to thank Mr. Bousman for speaking to us, and we are excited to share this cool clip form the new film. If you are looking for a very different kind of haunted house story, look out for the latest from Darren Lynn Bousman on VOD and in limited theatrical release this coming weekend. For fans of the director, it is well worth a look.

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Source: AITH

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