Interview: ‘And Soon the Darkness’ Director Marcos Efron

Releasing in theaters on December 17th for a limited run before coming out on DVD/Blu-ray December 28th, And Soon the Darkness (a remake of the obscure 1970 film of the same name) stars horror regulars Amber Heard and Odette Yustman as Stephanie and Ellie, two beautiful American girls who embark on a bike-riding trip in Argentina. When Ellie (Yustman) goes missing, Stephanie (Heard) is thrust into a terrible nightmare as she must find her friend before darkness falls and her worst fears are realized. Bloody-Disgusting reporter Chris Eggertsen recently chatted with director Marcos Efron, who’s making his feature debut with the project.

Going into my interview with Marcos Efron, what I was most curious about was his feeling regarding the rather “torture porn“-tinged one-sheets, depicting beautiful co-stars Amber Heard and Odette Yustman wearing skimpy bikinis in one panel and Yustman bound and gagged in another. Curious because I understood the original movie (which I’d admittedly never seen or heard of before the remake was announced) to be more of a straightforward suspense/thriller than a brutal horror film, and from what I’d read of the remake it seemed to follow more or less the same formula. In other words: did he mind the fact that his movie was being advertised as something other than what it actually was? Find his answers to that question and more in the following excerpts from our chat.

On working with Heard and Yustman, who I analogized to Betty and Veronica – the “good” and “bad” girls, respectively – from the Archie comic strip:

It’s funny, I’ve never heard the Betty and Veronica analogy, but that’s awesome…you know what, it’s funny, because when I was writing the script and working off the draft that Jen Derwingson had done I had always imagined it the other way, that you’d have the kind of crazy, hot blonde girl and the sensible brunette. And it kind of got flipped the other way in having Amber and Odette.

On remaking a more obscure film as opposed to something like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th:

I think having a movie that was not as well known, or pretty much not known at all to American audiences, was a blessing and a challenge too, because you didn’t have the name recognition. At the same time you didn’t have 10 million people watching and going, `hmm, this is not like I remember it, and they’ll never make it as good as the original.’ What I liked about it was that it was a simple, clear, character-driven story that was very atmospheric and didn’t rely on gimmicks or aliens or ax murderers to tell a story. And that was something I tried to retain in the remake. Not that there’s anything wrong with aliens and ax murderers, I enjoy some of those movies. But this one didn’t really call for it, and I thought that would’ve just muddled it.

On adding more twists:

I think with a contemporary audience, 40 years after the original film, you know, audiences are very savvy, especially the younger audience this is going for. And I think you have to make it more cinematic, make it a bit more interesting, add a few more characters…that was probably the biggest change, other than resetting it to Argentina [from] France.

On whether he believes the film is being marketed too much in the “torture porn” mold:

Well, look, I don’t really have the leverage and clout to direct what a marketing campaign should be like. It wasn’t envisioned as a torture porn type of film. At the same time, I absolutely respect and understand the studio’s…[marketing of] the film. I think when people see the film, if they’re hoping for a torture porn movie they might be a little disappointed, but if they’re sort of sick of that genre, I think that the reviews that have begun to come out just today – which have been quite favorable – have played up the idea that `hey, this is not what you’d expect, it’s better than this certain genre, it’s different.’

Hopefully that word of mouth gets out there and people will go, `Ok, I get it. They’re using hot girls on the poster to sell the movie, totally understand that. I hear this movie is actually more of a suspense/thriller and not torture porn.’ I’m hopeful that that message carries through, but at the same time I [don't fault] anybody for marketing this film the way they are. Maybe not the way I would’ve done it, but you know, that’s not what they pay me for! [Laughs]

On working with co-star Karl Urban:

That was kind of what I was looking for in the character of Michael, someone who could take care of himself. Amber and Odette are tall. So we needed to have a guy – I imagine Karl’s around 6’2” or so, he’s a big dude. And he’s a great actor and he’s taken on lots of different kinds of roles. And there’s something about him that’s trustworthy, but at the same time there’s something beneath that where you’re not really sure where he’s coming from. So that was interesting to me.

On his directing influences:

I can say who my influences are, but by no means am I putting myself in this category at all. But directors that I absolutely admire and study and really look up to are Roman Polanski – his `Knife in the Water’ is such a creepy film. Stanley Kubrick is I think a genius. I really like Oliver Stone. There’s something about his bombastic nature and the movies that he makes that are appealing. And Ridley and Tony Scott. I love the Scott brothers, and I’ll watch anything they make.

On composers tomandandy, who scored the film:

They were fantastic. They were really under the gun, because we had a pretty short post-production schedule and we had to get a lot of music in a short amount of time. The work they did in `Arlington Road’, and `Mean Creek’, was really, really excellent. And [their score for] `Resident Evil’ that just came out was kind of mind-blowing.

On what’s next:

I’m really just looking for great projects. They don’t necessarily have to be thriller or horror…I’d love to continue doing [them], but at the same time I’m looking at stories that are outside the genre. For example, there’s this – unfortunately I can’t say the name of it – wonderful book series, this young adult trilogy, that’s futuristic, it’s a British novel, that’s like a `Logan’s Run’ meets `1984′. And it’s really spectacular, and I’m working with some producers on it now. I just finished the adaptation, and hopefully we’ll set it up in the new year. I’m also working on a [script about] teen romance about time travel…I think it just comes down to a good story and good characters.