Visionary new filmmaker Brad Douglas wrote his new film Besetment up at the mountains in Oregon – no surprise then to discover that the film shares some welcome similarities with Lynch and Frost’s Twin Peaks. As the VOD release of the film inches closer, we speak to Douglas about the film’s inspiration, his impressive lead Abby Wathen, and whether or not he thinks the horror genre is healthy right now.
When did you first start writing the script?
It was about 5 years ago so 2011 or 2012 while I was living at a mountain resort in Bend, Oregon.
Do you remember how it all came to be?
I was originally writing a short but once I go to about page 40, I realized it was going to be a feature length script.
What initially interested you about it?
I thought a story about a young lady looking for a job in a place like central Oregon was relevant to the times and how such little opportunity exists in certain places like central Oregon and many other places for that matter. I began with the premise that the character wanted a job so bad that she would take anything short of a stripper job and it would lead to her demise or does it?
How did you pitch the cast?
Funding had fallen through on another feature I was working on that Abby Wathen (Amanda) was cast in. We had such a great chemistry through the casting and contractual process that I really wanted to meet her in person. We met in Newport for a friend’s film screening at the Newport Film Festival and she asked me if there was anything else we could shoot that summer on a lower budget. I told her I had a little thriller sitting on my shelf called BESETMENT and I thought we could probably get it done with what money I had. She read it, demanded that we do it and so the film got made. Without her the script would still be on the shelf. And if you ever get to meet Abby in person with that beautiful smile and dynamic personality you’ll know why I said yes. As far as Marlyn Mason, we had worked together on my first film, BIG in 2009. She is a veteran actress with so much spirit and talent and wisdom. So when I wrote the character of Milly I totally penned that role for her. It’s such a batshit crazy role I really didn’t think she would do it. I’m sure glad she did. She kills in this movie like every other role she’s ever done and there are hundreds of them.
What elements of the story can you relate to?
None LOL. Well except that I grew up in a small town in southern Oregon and it was super hard to find a job anywhere. I might have taken a hotel job too. Glad I lived to say I didn’t.
How would you describe the tone of the movie?
BESETMENT is a crazy little film. It has elements of extreme horror, suspense, disgust and oddly humour. I’m a comedy guy making horror so I can’t help but put a hefty spoonful of comedic relief into my work. However, we always play it straight and that’s what makes it work. I have watched this film where everyone is in horrific suspense and then with members of the cast and crew where we laugh hysterically at every scene. I think it has some Twin Peaks elements because of the location and diverse cast of characters as well as some strong Misery tones for sure. In fact, I used a thesaurus to find the name based on the word Misery.: verb (used with object), beset, besetting.
to attack on all sides; assail; harass:
to be beset by enemies; beset by difficulties.
The relation to Bates Motel is not a big as it comes across but hey I’ll take it.
Do you think the horror genre is in a healthy place right now?
Horror has a great place in cinema always but it has become so overused to make a quick buck in distribution. Thriller is much harder because you need “names” to get anywhere with it. I like to call BESETMENT “Smart Horror”. It has elements of horror but it’s so much more!
What do you hope audiences get out of the film?
I can remember the first time I watched “The Big Lebowski”. I had no idea what the film was about until it was over. I was like what the Fuck did I just watch? Now that’s is an underserved title reference, but I think audiences will come away with that type of feeling. This is one of those kinds of films. The more you watch it the more you’ll get out of it. It has a lot of gears. So, buckle up, hold on and get ready for a crazy ride.
Besetment premieres on VOD in June.