Goonies meets The Texas Chain Saw Massacre – how can that description not get you excited for Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo‘s Among the Living (review)?!
The foreign slasher hails from the French filmmaking duo behind Inside and Livide, who spoke with Bloody Disgusting exclusively about Among the Living, which is out now in the UK thanks to Metrodome.
In the film, three kids skip school in order to explore an abandoned film studio lot where they catch site of a woman being dragged across the lot by a masked man.
Maury and Bustillo confirm that the inspiration for the film was both The Goonies and Stand By Me, explaining: “We really wanted to tell a ‘teenagers story’ – this key moment in life where you’re not a kid anymore but you’re not an adult either.
“We of course had in mind the ‘Amblin mood’ from the 80’s that we love and we tried to mix it with our universe,” the duo add in regards to Steven Spielberg’s Goonies, while also explaining that Stephen King was a major influence. “Beside, our first draft was an imaginary biopic of [King’s] youth…”
While Inside felt like an homage to Halloween and Livide was love letter to Dario Argento, the duo’s Among the Living has a nasty Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe, which they speak to.
“On each of our movies, we’re trying to explore different universe that we love as an audience. But it’s more important to find the right style, matching with the story we want to tell.”
They continue: “For Among The Living, we wanted to have this ‘hot summer’, dusty, rusted mood. We’ve worked a lot with our very talented director of photography Antoine Sanier to find the right balance between the exteriors’ realistic warm colors and the interiors’ uncanny ambiances.”
What’s most impressive about Among the Living is that Maury and Bustillo worked with extremely young actors, which most filmmakers will warn against.
“We of course knew the rumor saying that you must never shoot with animals or children. So, we’ve done a very long casting and decided to follow an advice that Rob Reiner once said, ‘[It’s] best when working with kids or teenagers to cast actors being in real life the closest to their character. If the character is shy, choose a shy kid etc.
They continued: “We tried to be as realistic as we could with the teenagers being really young (not using 21-year-old actors pretending they are 14), and using swear words and making fun of each other as they would in real life.”
Maury and Bustillo’s films are known for their sheer brutality, yet there feels to be some retraint in Among the Living. I love when a filmmaker doesn’t pigeonhole a film to be anything other than what it needs to be. They explain in great detail.
“This was the level of violence required by the story. It’s not about censorship – you know that we are not afraid of showing kids being slaughtered – but we are not trying to be extreme at all cost. Here, the idea was to let the audience wonder if they are still alive in the end. And once again we’re trying in each of our movies to surprise the audience, about where the violence is going to be and how far we will go [in regards to] the characters’s destiny.”
Before Among the Living, Maury and Bustillo has great success with their lucid horror Livide at the Toronto International Film Festival. Dimension acquired the film and never released it. When asked when we may see it here in the States, they replied: “Unfortunately we don’t know… We’d love to have a U.S. release for Livide! But you can buy the U.K. Edition…” (here’s some help!)
My personal take was that Livide was a literal interpretation of a nightmare. For those who have yet to see the film, they agree with the assessment and add this fun bit:
“As soon as the kids get in the house, it’s another world with its own rules that you can’t predict. Behind every door, there is something you can’t expect. We wanted the house to be a living character. Jessel’s bedroom is the brain, the dancing room is the heart and the basement, the stomach…
“So, yes, being swallowed alive by a giant creature is a nightmare!”
The duo is also behind the Texas Chain Saw Massacre prequel, Leatherface, which I’ve hearing from people close to the production that the film is awesome, and insanely brutal. They unfortunately couldn’t talk much about it, but they did reveal to us that Lionsgate is releasing it in the States!
“Lionsgate will release the movie but no official date so far,” they explained. “We cannot say much about the movie but we’ve accepted to direct it because the story was quite different from the other films of the saga. It’s a brutal and nihilistic road movie that we hope will surprise and delight the fans…”
What’s next?! More horror? Another Leatherface?
“More horror, maybe, but more genre for sure! We’d like to explore a lot of sub-genre that we love as an audience; a creature feature, a ghost story, a zombie flick, fantasy, scifi, etc…”
What would you guys like to see next from these mad scientists of horror?!