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[Interview] Director Darren Bousman On The Look, And The Gore, Of ‘The Barrens’

Darren Lynn Bousman‘s psychological horror The Barrens, which stars Stephen Moyer, Mia Kirshner, Erik Knudsen, J Larose, Allie MacDonald, Max Topplin and Peter DaCunha, will be hitting DVD and Blu-ray on tomorrow, October 9th.

I recently hopped on the phone with Bousman to talk about his use of Super 16 in the film, working with Stephen Moyer and his approach to gore as well as the legend of The Jersey Devil.

In the film Moyer plays “a man who takes his family on a camping trip to the more than 1 million acres of dense forest known as the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where he becomes convinced they’re being stalked by the legendary winged monster that looks like a deformed hybrid of several different animals.” The legend of The Jersey Devil has been passed along for hundreds of years, as the creature has risen from obscurity to take its place alongside the Loch Ness Monster, Big Foot and the Chupacabra. Get more at the film’s Facebook.

Head inside for the interview.

What initially struck me is the look of the film. Aesthetically it’s much different than something like Mother’s Day or The Devil’s Carnival.

I think I try to make each film unique and different. The first thing I do is to figure out the kind of movie I’m making. And the question is, “will the movie work outside of the gimmick?” In this case, the gimmick is the monster. In Repo the gimmick is the singing. With the Saw stuff the gimmick was the violence. So it’s all about, do these films work with that stuff removed?

With Repo the question was would it work if I removed the singing. The Barrens needed to work if I removed the monster. And it’s almost not a horror movie, it’s a drama with monster elements. And the look is something that compliments this. It’s an homage to my favorite era of filmmaking, which is the 70’s. I didn’t want to do something that would make it look clean and clear and polished. We immediately turned our back on HD, we turned our back on 35MM and we went with Super 16 which had more character to it. That old, filmic, grainy quality.

The Jersey Devil has been an urban legend for quite some time. How did you settle on it for the film?

I’m a huge cryptozoology fan and there are hundreds of different creatures from the Chupacabra, to Bigfoot, to the Loch Ness Monster. I wanted to pick one that had not had a barrage of movies made about it. I feel like each time a movie is made about something it becomes saturated very quickly by other films. To me, The Jersey Devil was almost an obscure legend. So I wanted to do something I had a little more leeway in and present something that the audience might not be familiar with.

It’s a cool story and it spans hundreds and hundreds of years, which is fascinating.

Can you talk about working with Stephen Moyer? He’s a real journeyman when it comes to taking a lot of these roles.

Moyer is f*cking awesome. He’s one of the most talented actors I’ve ever worked with. And he took a huge risk making this movie. He’s a leading man on “True Blood”, he’s good looking – he’s Bill Compton. And you put him in this movie where he’s not going to look good, he’s going to have bags under his eyes, he’s going to look grumpy at all times.

It was a big risk for him to take it and he knocked it out of the park. It’s all about perception. I think people going in expecting a monster movie are going to be severely disappointed because it’s not really a monster movie. It’s a character study on Stephen Moyer, and I needed someone who had the ability to not only be sympathetic but also dangerous. You can tell that he’s a tortured soul but you have to have compassion for him. You have to wonder if he’s committing these horrendous acts.

You’ve got a lot of carnage in this movie. You say it’s not horror, but there’s plenty of gore.

Naturally I couldn’t just go off and make some drama. I had to appeal to the horror crowd, knowing that they would be the main audience. A lot of it is animal violence but you also get glimpses of gunshots and other nasty stuff that happens to the characters.

One of the lores of The Jersey Devil is how it kills. One of the legends is that it goes for the stomach and it removes the innards. And that was the theme I went with for this. The scene at the beginning is great, we actually have vultures and all of this ream-life disgusting stuff in there.




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