In cooperation with Syfy and Lionsgate, on January 28th After Dark Films is releasing eight “After Dark Originals” in theaters, in a bid to take the “horror festival concept to a higher level”. Instead of acquiring the films after the fact, as with “8 Films to Die For”, these Originals were developed from the ground up at the famed genre distributor in an effort to create “high quality horror films” with full input from the After Dark team. Now, in anticipation of their release, B-D reporter Chris Eggertsen put eight questions to the directors of each of the upcoming films, in a series we’re calling “8 Questions to Die For: Interviews with the Directors of the After Dark Originals”. In this installment we interviewed Seconds Apart director Antonio Negret about his film which follows telekinetic twin boys who are suspected in the twisted murders of several of their classmates. See inside for the full interview.
Of all the After Dark Originals releasing later this month, I’m probably most interested in seeing Antonio Negret’s Seconds Apart, a story about evil twin brothers with telekinetic abilities who become suspects in the murder of several of their classmates. The reasoning behind this is pretty simple: a) I’m also a twin; b) Carrie is one of my favorite films of all time; and c) telekinesis kicks ass. In the first interview in our series “8 Questions to Die For with the Directors of the After Dark Originals”, Negret talks the film’s twisted kill scenes, the casting of real-life twins Gary and Edmund Entin (Rest Stop), and the creation of the film’s special effects.
Bloody-Disgusting: Being a huge fan of “Carrie”, the idea of telekinesis, evil twin movies, and evil kid/evil teen movies in general, it goes without saying that I LOVE this premise. What specific qualities attracted you to the project?
Antonio Negret: What immediately attracted me to the project was that it presented an opportunity to make a film that was both smart and visceral. The script had some great death scenes, but also some elevated character work and storylines, which got me really excited. I also have been fascinated for a long time with twins and their connection – we’ve all heard countless anecdotes of twins who could feel what the other was going through, or who picked up the phone before it rang while the other one was on the line, etc… There is definitely something there, and I don’t think many movies have explored this phenomenon properly. I hadn’t seen a great twin movie since ‘Dead Ringers,’ and this project struck me as one that was fresh, cool, and scary as hell.
BD: Going back to “Carrie” for a moment (it’s one of my favorite films), the title character was someone who wasn’t evil, certainly, but rather had a terrible upbringing and was possessed of a power she didn’t understand. In other words, she was sympathetic. The twins in your film are described as “evil” but also as “outcasts” – watching the film, how do you intend for audiences to view them? As evil incarnate or more layered, complex personalities like Carrie White? Or – sorry for the lengthy question – is one possibly less “evil” than the other?
AN: I am thrilled to hear you say you love ‘Carrie.’ It truly is a great film, and we definitely aimed to capture some of its sensibilities while making ‘Seconds Apart.’ To answer your question, the twins are definitely layered and complex characters. Like Carrie, neither of them is soulless monster. They have a very human side to them, and are dealing with issues we can all relate to – whether it be finding one’s own identity, falling in love, or simply trying to ‘fit in.’ The evil and havoc they cause is truly horrifying – but it comes from a very human place, and because of certain things that happened to them in their past. As the film develops, we come to realize that the twins are very different from one another, and that one is trying to break away from the other, and to better deal with the powers they have.
Also, it is important to note that while there definitely is telekinesis involved, their powers go beyond that. They also have an ability to tap into people’s minds, and affect their version of ‘reality.’ I don’t want to give too much away, but they are able to really mess with people’s perception of what they see and experience. For us, it was a way to take Carrie’s powers to the next level, and make the twin’s revenge even more dangerous and twisted.
BD: I’ve actually met either Gary or Edmund Entin, can’t remember which one (I think it was Gary). I remember him being a very sweet kid. What made them the right choice to play these parts and how did you coax such dark performances out of them? Also, how are they different from each other as actors?
AN: Hahahahaha. Yeah, they are both very sweet, and great guys. The whole casting process was one I was kind of terrified of, to be honest. I knew that we wanted to find real identical twins who also happened to be great actors, and I was scared that if we couldn’t find them, the film would literally not work. So I was incredibly relieved when the Entins auditioned, because I immediately knew we had found our lead characters. They both have great range, and really stepped up to the plate. I think Edmund was really able to bring a vulnerability to his character, while Gary nailed the cool, calculating mind of his. In the film, though, they both descend to really dark places, and we just achieved that by talking through the beats beforehand, and just creating a comfortable atmosphere on set that allowed them to really take chances and be bold.
BD: Does the title “Seconds Apart” allude to the time that passed between each of the twins being delivered? If not, what does it mean?
AN: It does. In the film, one twin was born seconds after the other. But the title also plays with the idea of how, as close as you may be to someone, as similar as you may be, you are still different, and you can still grow apart from one another.
BD: How did you accomplish the telekinesis effects? Did you find yourself using a lot of the old tricks or did you create a lot of it digitally?
AN: Ninety percent of the effects in this movie are practical, which I am definitely a fan of. We looked back to movies like ‘Carrie,’ and the original ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ for examples of really great practical effects. Again, though, it is important to note that their powers are not just telekinesis. We have a lot of cool tricks up our sleeve, and some really crazy, dream-like set pieces. The twins can tamper with physical objects, but they can also tamper with your mind – which opens the door for some kick ass set pieces.
BD: I’ve heard the murders in this described as very twisted in visceral. Just how gory does this thing get?
AN: There are parts that are pretty gory, and will cause people to wince. But overall, we tried to keep the pain and deaths realistic in the sense that you really feel for the characters. We didn’t want to take the audience out of the film with gushing rivers of blood. More so, we wanted to get under the audience’s skin, and really make them uncomfortable. Trust me, we get pretty twisted with some of these murders.
BD: Orlando Jones is known mostly for his comedy work, but it sounds like he gets to play a pretty serious role in this. How did his involvement come about?
AN: He does a fantastic job in this film. I think people will be surprised and impressed. He really kicks ass. And he was actually the first actor attached to the project. We knew early on that we needed an actor that could capture the ‘outcast’ quality of Detective Lampkin. The truth is, he is as detached from reality as the twins are, and it is only because of this that he starts suspecting them. He too, is a damaged individual, haunted by his past, and struggling to ‘fit in’ with today’s society. I felt that having an actor that hadn’t been in too many horror films would help with this ‘outcast’ quality. It also helps that Orlando Jones happens to be a great actor, period.
BD: After Dark is also distributing your next film, “Transit”, which is more thriller than horror it sounds like. Is there anything in that one for hardcore horror junkies?
AN: ‘Transit’ isn’t a horror film, like ‘Seconds Apart.’ ‘Seconds Apart’ definitely goes for the throat, and delivers some hardcore horror. ‘Transit’ is more of an action/thriller, and we did it in collaboration with Joel Silver. However, it does have a darkness to it, and evokes some of the vibe of ‘Breakdown’ and ‘The Vanishing,’ so it does have elements I believe horror fans will like. It is certainly ruthless, violent, and full of tension!
Note from Antonio: Please let fans know that they can join our Facebook page, for more updates, photos, etc… And we hope to see fans there on Jan. 28th for this fun, twisted ride of a movie!