A few weeks back it was announced that Paramount had set up an untitled horror project penned by Mark L. Smith (Vacancy, The Hole 3D) with Platinum Dunes partners Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form along with Room 101’s Steven Schneider (Paranormal Activity, Area 51). The project was kept under wraps, so we caught up with Smith to see if we could get any nuggets of info out of him. Bloody Disgusting: The Variety article announcing this project states that Paramount is keeping the logline “under wraps”, but that it’s in the vein of “I Am Legend”, “Aliens”, and “The Descent”. Doesn’t get much cooler than that! What else can you tell us about the story and how you became involved in writing it?
Mark L. Smith: “I was playing around with something post-apocalyptic, and Steven Schneider gave me a nugget of an idea involving some genetic work gone terribly wrong. So I took part of his idea and combined it with the world I wanted to explore… and we ended up with this story.”
Bloody Disgusting: How has the experience been working with BOTH Platinum Dunes and Room 101 on the project? Both companies are known for high caliber horror films, how are the creative juices flowing?
“They’ve all been great to work with. Platinum Dunes knows exactly what audiences want, and how to deliver it. And Steven and I have been developing the story together for well over a year, so we’re pretty much always on the same page creatively. He and I are actually doing several projects together right now that are all over the spectrum genre-wise.”
Bloody Disgusting: Have you guys been talking to any directors about this yet, and if so which ones? Do you personally have a “dream” director in mind for it?
“They haven’t officially gone out yet, but I know several directors that have approached the producers… don’t think I’m supposed to say who though. And yes, I’ve got someone I think would be perfect… and he’s interested, so we’ll see if I get lucky.”
Bloody Disgusting: You’re quickly becoming a name in horror, what attracts you to the genre? What are some of your favorite films?
“I love the visceral reaction you can create with horror films… nothing beats being able to really scare someone. I do it to my kids all the time… they hate me. As far as favorite films… is JAWS considered a horror film? I’ve heard that debated, but for me, that set the bar… I love a slow build in horror/thrillers, where you have time to really get invested in the characters, rather than have them just be “victims in waiting”.”
Bloody Disgusting: You’ve written the thriller Vacancy and the children’s horror film The Hole, what makes this very different from those?
“It’s a little more sci-fi and thought provoking. There are also a lot of twists and turns in this story as opposed to a Vacancy, where a couple is trapped in a motel room, or The Hole where a pair of brothers find a bottomless pit in their basement that holds their darkest fears. Those were a little more straight-forward. This new one taps into some different emotions.”