8 Questions to Die For: ‘The Task’ Director Alex Orwell

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 interview director Alex Orwell, director of The Task, in which six young students compete a series of terrifying missions in an abandoned prison for a new reality show; unfortunately for them, the malicious spirits inhabiting the prison aren’t there to play around. I wondered how Orwell was planning on breaking the curse of past reality show-themed horror films, most (all?) of which haven’t exactly been stellar. See inside for the full interview.

True, we’ve been treated to a host of subpar, if not downright awful, reality show-themed horror films in the past (Remember Halloween: Resurrection? I’ve tried to forget), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for one to be good if it’s approached in the right way. Cue Alex Orwell’s The Task, part of the upcoming After Dark Originals lineup that’s being released in theaters on January 28th. The film follows a group of six young reality show contestants as they attempt to complete a series of frightening missions in an abandoned prison in order to win the show’s top prize. The film is the subject of the latest entry in our series “8 Questions to Die For with the Directors of the After Dark Originals”, in which the succinct Orwell tells us to expect a combo of Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity-style filming, to hold our breaths for a surprise twist, and to prepare for some serious gore.

Bloody-Disgusting: The concept of setting a horror film around the cast of a reality show has been done a bunch of times before, not too successfully in most cases (“Halloween: Resurrection”, “Killer Movie”, “Hell Asylum”, to name a few). How are you hoping to break the curse with this film?

Alex Orwell: While this film may have many similarities in theme to those previously mentioned, it also boasts a surprise twist at the end that fans will never anticipate.

BD: Does the movie utilize a “mock-doc” shooting style; i.e. are we seeing through the lens of reality show cameras the entire time? If so, are they stationary or is it done in “shaky-cam”?

AO: A combination of both. All of the contestants wear cameras while they are completing their tasks. Plus there are also stationary cameras in each of the rooms they enter.

BD: Is this a straightforward horror film or are do you utilize the reality show hook toward more satirical ends?

AO: Nothing is what it seems in this film. We definitely had fun with the concept. You will have to watch it to find out what that means.

BD: Describe the partnership with After Dark Films on this. How much of an influence did they exert during production?

AO: After Dark found the script, but once I came on board I worked with the writer to revise the story and add a few more surprises here and there. I wanted it to deliver more of a punch and the After Dark team trusted me to take the lead with that. Then we went into production relatively quickly. They had to sign off on my casting choices, but beyond that they let me do my job.

BD: The synopsis describes a “blood-soaked night of terror”. Just how blood-soaked do things get?

AO: We pushed the gore factor to the max with this film. You won’t be disappointed!

BD: I saw that this was shot in Bulgaria. Did you shoot in a real abandoned prison and if so, what was that experience like?

AO: All the buildings in Bulgaria feel like an abandoned prison! Seriously though, there is a wealth of talent in Bulgaria. It’s amazing what set designers are able to do there on a limited budget, so we shot the film in multiple locations utilizing real abandoned prisons, an abandoned factory and also well executed sets.

BD: What’s up next for you?

AO: Top Secret. If I told you…