This week's podcast topic comes from Patreon subscriber Jack Chivers, who has asked us to look at our favorite films from the United Kingdom, a national cinema broad enough to include stories about nice people laughing while having tea, crying while having tea, and getting shot by gangsters while having tea. There are films as intimate as a working class romance and as epic in their sprawl as the Harry Potter series, as hilarious as the work of Monty Python and as horrifying as a Carry On sequel. As long as it's from Britain, it's fair game for our list of the Top 5 British films.
In Worth Mentioning we cover Hillbilly Elegy, The Christmas Chronicles: Part Two and The Day the Earth Stood Stillthanks to Patron Zev Burrows.
If there's one thing The Nest is not, it's light and breezy. It's heavy and chest tightening and emotionally dense. So naturally, with so much to unpack, our first question for Sean Durkin was if he saw any resemblance between Jude Law and Rob Jarosinski. There was awkward laughter, but no confirmation.
Born in Canada (lucky feller), Sean Durkin won his first cinematic accolade at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival for his first feature Martha Marcy May Marlene. His short film, Mary Last Seen, on the same theme as Martha, won the award for best short film at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. Nearly a decade later, Durkin released his second film, The Nest(which feels a lot more like a sixth or seventh). The film had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
Like I said, The Nest is pretty gut wrenching, but in a way I haven't felt watching a movie before. The story follows and Englishman, Rory O'Hara (Jude Law) and his American wife, Allison (Carrie Coon), who are raising their two children in New York City. The pair seem to have the perfect little hamster wheel life that so many parents live in, but Rory starts rattling the cage when he convinces his wife to move to England in search of better work opportunities.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about being supportive, but when the family movies into this massive mansion and Rory starts buying horses and cars and enrolling his kids in private school, I started to give Rob the side-eye.
The next hour-or-so, is a painful slog through relationship complexities. Rory's unhealthy obsession with success and money alienates his family and everybody around him. Meanwhile, his wife who has been trying to hold her family together, starts to question her own sanity, from the constant gaslighting of her loving husband.
The Nest is available on streaming - check it out and let us know what you think!
I'll admit it, because I'm nothing if not honest, I had no idea who the director of Run, Aneesh Chaganty was by name (I still question how I got roped into this movie podcast thing, but anyway). But then, I saw that he was the writer/director of Searching, which I really loved and suddenly, the pressure felt a bit greater.
Sometimes you meet people and they just have a presence about them, a magnetic vibe, if you will. I'm absolutely certain I had a weird grin plastered on my face for the entire entire interview (I won't be playing it back to find out).
So this guy's 29.
When Chaganty was 23, he made a two minute short film called Seeds. It quickly became an internet sensation and garnered more than 1 million YouTune views in 24 hours. Following its success, Chaganty was invited to join the Google 5 team at Google Creative Lab in New York City. He spent two years writing and directing Google commercials. After working on over 25 short films and videos, Chaganty directed his first feature film, Searching, which one the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance.
Even though the spoilers come early, I will tread lightly for fear of exposing the twists! Run is a edgy thriller that follows Diane (Sarah Paulson) who gives birth very prematurely. Seventeen years later, we find Diane living as the doting (micromanaging) mother of Chloe (Kiera Allen). Chloe has a whole bevy of health issues, but in spite of her challenges, she is incredibly smart, self-sufficient and hell-bent on going away to college.
Like I said, Run quickly takes some really dark turns. You're guaranteed to find your fists clenched, your heart pounding and maybe even your left arm pit a bit sweaty (is it weird that it's only the one? I'll get that checked out).
You can't keep a good slasher killer down, so we've got even more Freaky Behind the Scenes coming your way! This time I had the opportunity to sit down with co-screenwriter Michael Kennedy, who notoriously teamed up with director and co-writer Chris Landon in a pitch rehearsal turned creative partnership!
We sat down to chat about what it means to write an openly queer character in a slasher movie, some fun sequel ideas, and how it feels to have your debut film suddenly become the only film in the back quarter of 2020.
I feel like I already expended most of my Freaky analysis in the blog intro to Chris' interview, so it's time to get a glimpse into my glitzy and glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. I first met Michael in the summer of 2018, when I was brought on to produce Attack of the Queerwolf, the queer horror podcast I ended up co-hosting with Michael, Nay Bever, and Mark Fortin.
Before and after recordings we would all talk shop and chat about what was going on in our lives. It was a delight to watch Michael go from an elated "I have a meeting with Chris!" to a tight-lipped "I can't say anything at this time" to a boisterous "holy shit, Freaky is actually happening!" Michael's primary goal is to make people laugh and have a good time, and it was an incredible privilege to watch that dream come true and unfold before our eyes (in feature film form at least, he wrote for television before Freaky came together - this isn't his first rodeo).
And between you and me, it's always nice when the friend you're supporting turns out work that's actually good and you don't have to fake it, so what a lucky break for me!
Freaky is in drive-ins and select theaters Friday, November 13 and on digital VOD December 4th!
All week, Rob annoyingly wandering around the house talking about our upcoming Let Him Go interview with Thomas Bezucha. He was using a thick Italian mobster accent and probably mispronouncing his name "Ba-zooooo-ka." By the time we got to the interview, it was so burned in my brain, that there's a fair chance I referred to him as a large rocket launcher weapon.
Please, please comment below if you read the above headline and instantly thought about Robin Williams. I need to know, so we can be friends forever. Anyway, Thomas Bezucha is an American screenwriter and film director. If you don't recognize his name you'll certainly recognize his filmography. He wrote and directed the films Big Eden (2000), The Family Stone (2005) and Monte Carlo (2011). He also co-wrote the films The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018) and The Good House.
Admittedly, I haven't seen any of his earlier films. I asked Rob not to share, but like in all good relationships, he failed me.
In a diversion from his previous films, Let Him Go is a 2020 American neo-Western drama, based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Larry Watson. After the death of their son, Diane Lane and Kevin Costner, a retired sheriff, set out to save their only grandchild. Basically, you find out real quick that their daughter-in-law's new family she's married into is bonkers weird and violent. So, we have to count on Costner and Lane to come in and bust some faces, and that's where I'll leave that.
We didn't talk about something during the interview, because we found out the hard way on our Top 5 Jump Scares episode, when Rob criticized his parents participation in Halloween, that my in-laws apparently listen to our podcast. But let it be known, that Blanche Weboy (Lesley Manville) the horrifying matriarch of this abusive family is TOTALLY my mother-in-law. (Please note: she's not violent, but she is pretty cray).
The film is tense and stressful and really beautiful. On one hand, I was super sucked into the thriller/suspense aspect of the movie. On the other hand, I'm super frustrated that anybody would have to deal with the situation altogether.
The film was theatrically released in the United States on November 6, 2020, by Focus Features, check out and let us know what you think!
You can also read Tim's review of Let Him go.
I have been extremely lucky in my life as an entertainment personality-type person to have already had the chance to podcast with Chris Landon twice before (most recently about the movie Carrie).
Not only is Chris the writer-director of Happy Death Day, Happy Death Day 2U, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, and his new upcoming feature Freaky, co-written with Michael Kennedy, but he’s also one of the most genuinely nice guys working in the industry today.
He did nothing to dim that impression when we sat down for this interview where we chat about Freaky, how a pitch rehearsal turned into a full-on partnership, the importance of giving a queer character time to shine, how to turn your home into the perfect Freaky viewing environment, and (definitely most importantly) what we’re watching during quarantine.
One thing that we hit on in our discussion is the queer element of Freaky, which is certainly foregrounded: one of the lead characters is a queer teen. But that isn't the only way Freaky, which was written by two gay men, is a queer film. At the center of Freaky is the idea of the body swap, a concept that most would look on as fodder for comedy and wacky impressions. And yes, of course it provides that. But for queer audiences in particular, this can resonate more deeply. There's nobody in the world who hasn't wished their body looked different at some point in their life. But the very notion of being queer means rebelling against the strict parameters that society has set for the type of body you live in, from how you look and who you love, all the way on down to little things like what movies you'll like or what color clothes you should wear.
Having an identity that doesn't match the body you were born in obviously comes with the territory for trans and nonbinary folks, but even cisgender queer people ("cisgender" means that your gender identity matches your birth sex) feel societal pressure about their behavior not matching the meat puppet they're piloting around. There are few cis gay men who haven't at least once wish they could have been born with a vagina so that they could publicly hold hands with a guy they're dating without fear of blowback. Or cis lesbians who feel it would have been a damn sight more convenient to have been born with a penis so they wouldn't be ostracized for the mere act of loving.
These concepts might seem too highbrow for a simple slasher comedy, but I assure you they're not. The body, and all the expectations placed on it, form the backbone of Freaky. Vince Vaughn might not be delivering a Socratic seminar about queer theory in this movie, but the idea that this film is born from would be treated much differently if it were written by a pair of straight, cisgender people.
But enough from me! Let’s hear from the man in his own words as we dissect everything that went into making this wild movie a reality!
Have you ever noticed the pattern of successful entertainment personalities, having experienced some sort of adversity or hardship when they were young? The comedian whose Dad was an abusive jerk. The actor who was bullied for their acne or their off-brand jeans or their haircut (you know the important stuff that bullies care about). As a creator, you can control the narrative and ultimately, the outcome for your characters (what should happen). For Jacob Chase, Come Play, has a message about loneliness, about empathy and about overcoming the qualities in ourselves that challenge us most.
It's fair to say (I double checked with Jacob Chase) that Come Play is a blend of The Babadook and ET. Despite the heart-racing jump scares and sweat-inducing practical effects, when the terrifying monster Larry emerges, I kind of wanted to reach out my finger and say "Lar-Ry Phone Home." In fact, all Larry wants is a friend. The story centers around a little boy named Oliver (Azhy Robertson) who has a severity of autism that leaves him unable to communicate verbally. Oliver's Mom, Sarah (Gillian Jacobs), is doing her best to navigate the challenges that come with this, while also dealing with the deterioration of her marriage to Marty (John Gallagher, Jr.).
The thing of the movie, is that Larry lives inside your smart phone or your tablet (I'll probably use this explanation with my kids to get them off those ridiculous package opening YouTube videos) and he grows strength and emerges from the technology as you read his story.
The thing is, yeah, Larry is a monster who wants to suck Oliver into his dark world. And sure, Larry will probably kill you if he has the chance. But Larry just wants a friend, after all, and who can't empathize with that?
We had such a nice time chatting with Jacob Chase. Everything from, his motivations for making the movie, his wife's work that inspired the film and his overall passion for all things that go bump-in-the-night. The making of Larry and how the practical effects came together, also gave us a different perspective on the film.
We hope you enjoy hearing about the making of Come Play too!
Put down your coffee and check out the trailer!
You can also read Tim's review of Come Play.
Screen legend Sean Connery passed away on October 31 at the age of 90, and we at Alternate Ending celebrate his career by devoting this podcast to the highlights of his career - the best performances, the best movies, and the most sadly appropriate opportunity Carrie has ever had to put Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at #1 on her top 5 list.
In Worth Mentioning we cover Come Play, Let Him Go and The Dark and the Wicked.
This week we had the chance to sit down with The Dark and the Wicked producer, Adrienne Biddle. We talked about the making of the film and our feelings on the movie, but we ended up spending a good chunk of time discussing her path to becoming a film producer. Schooling, early grunt-jobs, relationship building, the whole thing. It was such an enlightening conversation because I've always wondered what a producer actually does.
Indulge me for a little only somewhat relevant story. Back in 2008, I was at a wedding (with a date that wasn't Rob) and it was kind of fancy shindig. The groom, was my then-boyfriend's uncle. He was one of those guys who sometimes acted and sometimes bought and sold sports tickets and sometimes probably sold drugs (who knows).
I remember there was a "special guest" coming and everybody was being weird about ensuring this guy and his wife were getting the real VIP treatment. My job was to ensure my car was void of candy wrappers and random clothes (your car was gross when you were 25, too) and I needed to be on time to pick up them up from the airport. When I arrived at O'hare (probably late), he introduced himself as Stratton Leopold and his wife, as Mary. I had no idea who he was, but I was pretty confident he was a big deal with a name like Stratton Leopold (insert regal-sounding accent). Being the nosy person I am, I asked what he did for a living. He shared that he and his wife owned an ice cream shop in Savannah, GA and he did some work in Hollywood.
As it turns out, even all those years ago, I was still pretending to know about film.
Knowing the goal of the interviewee is to promote their movie, we of course spent at least 3 minutes talking about The Dark and the Wicked. The truth is, when Rob dropped out of film school, it wasn't because he didn't love movies, but he just didn't really see a path that he could be successful at. Through the years, and working in business roles, he's probably said about 100-ish times, "I think I would be good at producing". Supportively, I nod and say "hmm mmm, sounds great, you should totally do that" but really I'm thinking "dude, if this is you asking me to leverage our savings to make a movie the answer is N-O."
All that said, we were both pretty eager to hear more about Adrienne's role as a producer on The Dark and the Wicked, how she met Bryan Bertino and document every life choice she's ever made, to get to where she is today.
The bad news for Rob is that apparently it takes a lot of consistent hard work, dedication and acceptance of less than glamorous responsibilities, as you work your way up the ladder. The good news is that the role lends itself to people who are workaholics and excellent planners, who like control.
So...we'll see what the future holds.
On a secluded farm in a nondescript rural town, a father is terminally ill. His children (Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott, Jr.)come back to the farm to mourn. It doesn't take long for super-creepy-weirdness to take place, marked by waking nightmares and a growing sense that something evil is taking over the family.
It's grim and dark and freaky and weird. It's also edgy and jumpy and there are some super cringeworthy scenes that you'll probably think "oh heck no, they won't..." and then they do. If you're into grim horror, this may just be your bag!
The Dark and the Wicked releases November 6th on VOD!