By Michael Gingold
Fango heard from the filmmakers behind THE REEDS, one of the 8 Films to Die For playing in After Dark Horrorfest 4, which hits theaters nationwide January 29-February 4; they also provided a couple of exclusive photos (seen after the jump). Directed by Nick Cohen from a script by Chris Baker and producer Simon Sprackling, the movie was shot in Norfolk, England and is based on the true case of Tony Martin, a farmer who shot two youths in 1999 when they attempted a burglary on his property.
In the film scenario, a group of young Londoners on a weekend boating trip wind up in a marsh area and make a discovery that leads to some serious bloodshed. The cast includes Anna Brewster, Scarlett Alice Johnson, Emma Catherwood, Will Mellor, Geoff Bell, Danny Caltagirone and O.T. Fagbenle. Kristyan Mallett, whose credits include THE COTTAGE, DOOMSDAY, EDEN LAKE, MUTANT CHRONICLES and lots of UK TV, designed the makeup FX—though according to the filmmakers, one of the scariest parts of the production was its shooting site.
“Most low-budget horror filmmakers have the good sense to set their movies in an easily accessible location, like their bedroom or the local woods,” Sprackling tells Fango. “But being British, we decided to try doing it in 6 feet of freezing water, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of November. It’s not a lesson I need to learn twice—the next film we’re doing is about a bloodbath in a fogbound motorway service station. At least the only thing that’s going to kill us there is the food!”
“I don’t know about the audience, but it frightened the life out of me,” Cohen adds about the treacherous waterways. “The reeds were really sharp and cut you to ribbons when you walked through. Then underneath, there was only a thin crust of earth. So every now and then when we were shooting, you would hear a shout in the dark and have to rush over and haul out one of the crew who’d broken through and was getting sucked down into the mud below. It happened to me twice. I’m still having nightmares.
“On the plus side,” he adds, “the cast didn’t have to act much when it came to looking terrified.”
“The person I felt most sorry for was Will Mellor,” Caltagirone says. “At one point, he had to take all his kit off and jump in naked [as seen in a behind-the-scenes clip below]. That’s got to be the first time that boy has lost the power of speech! Luckily, he’s a big lad who held up well in the cold. He certainly managed to scare away the local snakes—and get himself a warm hand from the crew for his trouble.”
The bulk of the features in After Dark’s Horrorfests have been American-made, and the people behind THE REEDS are excited to have bucked that trend. “We’re thrilled to be at Horrorfest,” says Laurie Hayward, head of Screen East, who partially funded the movie with the UK Film Council. “Only eight films a year are selected for this prestigious showcase, and this is the third picture from the British regions to ever be chosen,” following the second edition’s THE DEATHS OF IAN STONE and the third’s THE BRØKEN.
It’s sweet vindication for the REEDS team, who spent four and a half years bringing the project to fruition. “At one point,” Sprackling quips, “I started to wonder if the real reason the UK produces so many period dramas is that they all start out as pieces of contemporary fiction—it just takes us that long to get them made.”
“It has certainly been a remarkable effort,” agrees Hayward. “And it’s great that this amazing location will now have the chance to capture the imaginations of cinema audiences across North America.”
“Although I doubt there will be a huge rush to come and get slaughtered in it,” adds Cohen.
Check out THE REEDS’ trailer and that not entirely work-safe behind-the-scenes clip below. More info on the Horrorfest’s films and the theaters that’ll be playing them can be found at the official website. (Thanks to Jonathan Sothcott)