With “Abattoir,” a new psychological horror/thriller getting ready to hit theaters Friday, December 9th, I had the opportunity to talk with the film’s director, Darren Lynn Bousman. Already familiar with the horror genre having directed “Saw II,” “Saw III,” and “Saw IV,” Darren and I spoke about the origins of the movie and plans for a sequel.
James McDonald: Hey Darren, how’s it going today?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Hey Man, good, how are you?
James McDonald: I’m doing good, thanks for taking the time for talking with us today.
Darren Lynn Bousman: Of course, thanks for talking to me.
James McDonald: We’re going to be talking today about your upcoming horror/thriller “Abattoir,” which hits theaters Friday, December 9th from Momentum Pictures, can you tell our readers a little about the movie?
Darren Lynn Bousman: It all started with a character named Jebediah Crone, played by Dayton Callie, and I had this idea about a man who would travel to different tragedies, for crime scenes, and buy the property. So someone slits their wrist in a bath tub, or someone hangs themselves from a chandelier, or falls down a flight of stairs, he buys the house and takes the room where the death occurred and would take it to a place where he is constructing a house, made up of only crime scenes and that was the initial concept, that got me intrigued about doing this movie. And then I formed this story around it, with writer Chris Monfette, and going into it however, I wanted to approach it differently, I didn’t want to make just a scary, haunted house movie, I wanted something a little more unique and stylized, so then I took my admiration and love for film noir, and I kind of told it through a noiresque perspective, and we’re left with a sort of mish-mash of genres, a haunted house film, a crime drama, and a hard-nosed kind of noir.
James McDonald: That was one of the aspects I liked, you couldn’t just categorize it as, like you said, a haunted house movie, or a slasher film, it incorporated elements from a lot of different genres.
Darren Lynn Bousman: For me, I always want to do things that are a little off-center, and we didn’t have the budget that I needed to create a gorefest scarefest, I didn’t have the resources to make a movie like “Pan’s Labyrinth,” or “Crimson Peak,” so for me, I needed to make it stylized and unique, and I want to mash genres up, I want to take the genres I love and make this weird hybrid film, and the hybrid film became what “Abattoir” is. It’s kind of three movies, it starts off as a crime drama, then moves into this noir-esque town harboring a dark secret, and then the third act it sort of goes off the rails, and goes into a more traditional horror film.
James McDonald: A lot of the horror, as opposed to some of the other movies you’ve made, like “Saw II, III and IV,” where they were visual, and the blood and guts and gore were all up there on the screen for everyone to see, with “Abattoir,” a lot of what happened, was inferred, you do see some blood but most of it was implied, and I was just wondering if that element was deliberate on your behalf, if it was something you intentionally set out to achieve as opposed to the attack on the senses approach that the “Saw” movies delivered?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Absolutely. As I’ve gotten older, and more mature and more confident in what I do, I want to make movies that are the same thing, more mature and more confident. I think it’s very easy to add blood and violence and throw it at the camera but that doesn’t excite me any more, it doesn’t motivate me and while there is blood and there is violence, it’s more implied, it’s more about the characters themselves, than it is about the blood and gore happening onscreen. And maybe that’s due to the fact that I have become a father myself, and I’ve found that I don’t have to put gratuitous violence in my films any more to get the point across.
James McDonald: As a horror fan since I was 10 years old, I’ve always felt that ghost stories, when done correctly, like John Carpenter’s “The Fog” or “Poltergeist,” can be much scarier that a guy in a mask chasing you through the woods or an old abandoned building. Since you’ve made both types of movies, do you have a particular preference?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Yeah, I agree. “Poltergeist” for me, is one of the best movies ever, because you’re dealing with horror taking place in suburbia, in your house, and I think it’s much easier for people to relate to. Almost everyone owns a house that has a TV and a closet so people can relate to that. To do a movie that features fantasticalesque monsters, it’s harder to relate to. That’s why “The Exorcist” terrifies me, you know you have this possession of a girl taking place in her own house, and it’s a much easier thing to relate to than some of the more fantastical approaches to that genre.
James McDonald: That’s a great point. I found “Abattoir” had a very dark feel to it overall, and even though parts of the story take place during the day, I felt that many of the scenes were shot with more emphasis on the darker aspects of the location, like the corner of a room, or the space behind an open door, I found them to be very ominous, were you trying to symbolize something more sinister with these shots or was it just your personal shooting style?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Back in the day, when I thought I’d have more time and money for the film, I wanted it to be all set at night, I wanted the entire film to be like “Dark City,” where it was always nighttime, to be perpetually dark, we wanted to do that but it was very difficult to pull off, you know, having to tint out entire buildings and only shoot at night, so what we tried to do was get the cinematography and production design to get that constant feeling of dread, and that is what we were going for.
James McDonald: One final question before we have to go. With a lot of today’s horror films, many of them leave the endings open for a sequel and in the case of “Abattoir,” I feel that the character of Jebediah Crone and his hell house, could carry on into other stories, is that something you’d be open to, even from a producer capacity?
Darren Lynn Bousman: Yes, there’s already a sequel written called “The Dwelling,” and the thing I like about “Abattoir” and the whole universe of it, is that when I had the original idea, there were multiple stories, and this is just one of them. The story of Julia Talben is just one of them. There are so many possibilities, I mean think about it, Jebediah takes a room, when he takes a ghost, he could take rooms that existed in the 1800s, or the 1900s, in Asia, in Russia, in the Deep South, and with each one he takes, not only will the ghost be different, but also the room itself and the architecture, and so I think it lends itself to future films, as well as the mythology. The mythology is so dense, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface with this film and so I definitely have the ideas, to do more of these but again I think it all depends on the audience’s willingness to see something like this. It is a weird movie, it’s weird, it’s strange, they talk weird, they dress weird, but to me, that’s what makes it more memorable than maybe some of the other entries in this genre but I would love to continue them.
James McDonald: Well I really enjoyed the movie and if “The Dwelling” takes off, that’s something I’d really like to watch and like I said, this is a story I could see continuing for a long time so hopefully when “Abattoir” comes out, it will generate enough interest to warrant a sequel.
Darren Lynn Bousman: Well that is the plan, thank you so much for listening and watching it and talking about it.
James McDonald: Thanks for taking the time and best of luck when it opens on Friday.
The movie, like Darren stated above, is slightly off-kilter, but that is part of its charm. With so many horror films today, it’s not always easy to know which ones to watch but I can highly recommend this one, check it out if you can, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
“Abattoir” opens in theaters Friday, December 9th