IFC Midnight will release Evan Kelly’s Canadian thriller The Corridor this Friday, March 30th. A piece about male-bonding and miscommunication described as “The Big Chill slammed into The Evil Dead.” Stephen Chambers, James Gilbert, David Patrick Flemming, Matthew Amyotte, and Glen Matthews all star.
I recently caught up with Kelly on the phone to chat about his approach to The Corridor. We covered character, horrific acts, casting an ensemble and yes – the film’s surface similarities to Dreamcatcher. Don’t let that deter you though, Kelly’s film is a much more focussed piece of work.
“Tyler Crawley needs his friends, now more than ever. Recovering from mental stress in the wake of his mom’s death, Tyler has been counting on a weekend with the guys to bring him back to normal. For Tyler’s sake his old buddies rally themselves, though the “glue” which keeps them together has weakened with the passing of recent years — a natural enough occurrence.
But with the introduction of a single unnatural occurrence — the corridor itself — the knots in these male bonds will come loose with a terrifying speed. Both a fantastical passageway to somewhere and a passageway into the mind of the male animal, the corridor will lead Tyler and his friends to the very edge of sanity and beyond…”
Hit the jump to check out the interview! I’m sure that you’ve heard this before and that it’s not a terribly original thought on my part, but it does feel very Stephen King. Like Dreamcatcher but more focussed. Was that on your mind at all while you were making it?
Truthfully, not that specific film because I’ve never seen it. I grew up reading Stephen King and Josh, the writer, definitely grew up reading Stephen King. We’re both fans. And geographically we’re not too far from it, his vibe runs deep in our DNA. But it’s not something we actively talked about. Early on people pointed out that there was some overlap, but I’m not sure exactly where it overlaps with Dreamcatcher. I stayed away from it, and when the film was done I decided I was going to check it out but people told me not to waster my time.
It’s great that you think there’s some parts we got right that they got wrong. But Stephen King has gotten so many parts right in general that he gets a pass from me.
I’m not indicting him, but that adaptation didn’t really pan out. I’d almost recommend it as a WTF experience. But when you read this script, what was it you responded to most strongly?
It was three things. First, in the group of male friends, I could see the reflection of my male friends in there. And so many people have made the same comment. That they can see, if not the specifics of it, something they connect to. That you outgrow and yet still need this connection to a group of guys. The second thing that was a huge part of the attraction was on the page, this written visual of this geometric almost non-entity shape in the organic winter woods. As a pure visual, it was so intriguing. And the third part of it was that I’m not a pure horror guy. I like a lot of horror among other things, unlike our producer Mike and writer Josh who will really scrape the bottom of the barrel to get at whatever they can get at. What I really liked on the page was one of the more visceral moments of the movie playing almost entirely offscreen. I could really connect with that opportunity as well.
There’s stuff that’s right up front in your face and other stuff that allows you to fill in the gaps with your imagination. Those three things really made me want to take it on.
It’s nice to see a film that takes its time with the characters. They almost start out as archetypes, but they reveal more dimensions as you go along. What as the trick to pulling together an ensemble that feels like they’ve known each other a long time?
A lot of them already have shared history. Whether it’s a personal shared history or they’re from the same place and have a lot of the same touch points. A couple of them knew each other fairly well. They certainly grew up in the same way, with the exception of Stephen Chambers who plays Tyler, he is from another part of the country and even having that bit of geographical remove sort of helped his division from the ensemble.
We were a pretty modestly budgeted independent production and we talked about who we could bring in to open this film to audiences. What familiar names and faces would we have access to? Those were doors we weren’t ever able to fully open and I’m kind of thankful for it. Because the unknown quantity of these faces really works. If you recognized or knew one of them, that might not have worked.
A lot of that also has to do with the fact that the cast spent every waking moment together during the production of this film strengthening that rapport. By the time it hit the screen it felt like there was more substance there than ordinarily might be shown.
The descent into violence and madness occurs at a measured pace. What was your approach to calibrating it?
Well ‘The Corridor’ kind of clears the cobwebs from their minds, which feels good. But it doesn’t stop there, it eventually tears those walls down. So in terms of calibrating those moments, a lot of guidance was there in the script. But we were also trying to find things that were a little off balance. If there’s one full-frontal [in terms of action, not nudity] moment, there’s another that happens offscreen and we kind of measure out from that.
The violence is upsetting because these guys know each other, it reads as cruel. But it doesn’t feel like you made a cruel movie. Being in charge of the tone, how do you manage that balance?
Well, this thing gives them permission to act out on these things they carry within themselves. As much as you see the simmering animosities, the solution to those animosities is to correct and help each other. So there is kind of a titled good vibe to it, which I think is fairly unique.
These are mean spirited acts, but they’re coming from a place of really good intentions. So they’re trying to help each other, even if it’s in an absurd, cathartic grisly fashion. I guess we just sort of held on to the intention behind the action, rather than the action. The act in itself is horrific, but it’s done out of positivity. These are pretty good guys, with one possible exception.
The Corridor is in theaters this Friday, March 30th.
Also worth checking out is the film’s official website.