By Samuel Zimmerman
Indie filmmaker Jason Cuadrado, whose short film MONSTROUS NATURE is currently winning accolades in the festival circuit and whose feature TALES FROM THE DEAD hits DVD from Seminal Films March 9, recently got in touch with the scoop and a few early photos (seen after the jump) from his latest movie, DARK DESERT HIGHWAY. A stylistic throwback, HIGHWAY is a gloomy thriller about a group of friends traveling cross-country who become targets of a faceless, psychotic sniper.
Cuadrado knows the plot will seem familiar, and insists this is pushing him to keep the rest of the film original. “It’s a pretty classic setup,” he admits, “so the challenge comes from ramping up the stakes and giving the audience something that feels fresh. If you watch a lot of horror, and I certainly do, it gets easier to write things that you yourself have never seen. The fun comes from scaring yourself, basically!”
Produced by Esperanza Productions and Camillia Sanes, HIGHWAY will lens in California and New Mexico. “When you’ve got a film where the main character is a harsh desert environment,” Cuadrado notes, you really want to make the most of it. I’ve been speaking to my DP, A.J. Raitano, about giving the arid landscape a sweeping, epic look so you can really feel the isolation, like the opening of THE SHINING. We’ve got some amazing actors lined up [Michael Welch from ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE and the TWILIGHT movies is currently attached] to take us into the desert and show us how to survive a psychotic, faceless sniper, and will be working very hard to deliver strong performances. Films like this are mainly about the characters. If you’re just waiting for them to die, there’s no suspense. If you’re afraid for them, rooting for them, praying for them, you’re on the edge of your seat, wondering what’ll happen next. We’ve got incredible actors who will pull you into that dark, bullet-ridden trailer with them.”