In a 2006 interview, producer Clive Barker was quoted as saying about my cut of THE PLAGUE: "...it was not the movie I read and that Hal pitched to us."
It should be noted that Clive Barker was almost entirely absent from the development and production of this film. Even his own producers were fond of commenting on the fact that Clive was clueless as to what was happening on and with THE PLAGUE.
The version of the film that was re-cut from start to finish and completely re-imagined by Barker and Sony Screen Gems in post-production was in no way the film as it was written, developed or shot.
Shortly after joining forces with the production company Armada Pictures, I was asked to write
a “Director’s Statement” outlining my creative approach
to making THE PLAGUE. This was supposedly for potential investors and also
to make sure we were all on the same page. The following is the statement
exactly as it was given to ALL involved parties. I personally ran this statement by Barker's producers to assure that it accurately articulated all that we had discussed, before officially handing it in. They agreed that this was the film were were making.
My writing partner, Teal Minton, and I decided a few years ago that we wanted to write a horror script, something we had never attempted before, as drama was always our strong suit. Having both grown up with horror films, Teal and I realized that we hadn’t seen a truly horrifying one in years. We also realized that we’d seen very few contemporary horror films that were actually made for adults. Most of the great horror films we had seen were done years ago and almost all dealt with fears that already existed in society; fears that still resonate today on a very primal level: The communist scare that feeds the original INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, a woman’s sacrificial role in society and household so terrifyingly represented in Polanski’s ROSEMARY’S BABY, or a parent’s inability to help or understand what is happening to their child in THE EXORCIST. These were the films that inspired us, resonated with us. And these films left us thinking, asking questions and, quite often, looking inward. Their endings were often ambiguous and haunting, allowing the audience to decide what happened next depending on each audience member’s personal set of experiences and view of the world.
My intention with THE PLAGUE is to explore fears that I feel are relevant to society today: that we are living in an increasingly violent world; that we are vulnerable to threats beyond our understanding; that our children are becoming lost to us; and that we tend to demonize that which we do not understand or would rather not face. The horror genre is the ideal way to explore these fears in a visceral way, while creating something that will be memorable, emotional, thought-provoking, exciting and, above all, genuinely frightening. After all, what better place to explore what happens to us when we’re scared, than in a horror film?
As with the above, I take my creative cues from the films of my youth, and so it is with my visual approach to THE PLAGUE. As opposed to the commercial/music video style that so pervades contemporary horror films, I prefer longer takes, allowing the actors to work within the frame, building both an audience relationship with the characters, as well as allowing the tension to build in a more deliberately haunting manner. The first act will be a study of human faces, hidden emotions, and their environments. The fear and horror that encompass the second and third acts will be a direct result of the seeds planted in the first; like a nightmare that lingers in the gut for days, more a feeling, a sense, than anything tangible. For me, true horror comes not so much from being startled or surprised, not from cats jumping out of dark corners (though we’ll have our fair share of that, too), but in bringing to the surface those fears that reside in all of us. As a result, the violence in the film will be of a less graphic nature and more left to the viewer to fill in what I will only hint at. My intention is to allow the audience to become direct participants in the events onscreen; to allow them to be horrified not only by what they see and hear, but by their own visceral reactions and desires. As with the best horror films that have affected me over the years, I would like nothing more than to leave the audience with an experience that will stay with them, in both body and mind, long after the closing credits have rolled.
Writer/Director of THE PLAGUE