If you are a horror fan, than most likely you are not only familiar with the horror anthology, V/H/S, but have seen it as well. The latest film from director Gregg Bishop takes one of the most startling and terrifying shorts from the horror anthology, "Amateur Night" and brings it to life in SiREN, a full feature film. James Carter had the chance to speak with Gregg about his newest film and what it was like to bring it to the big screen.
James Carter: Hi Gregg, thanks for talking with me today. To start things off, for those not familiar with your latest film SiREN, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Gregg Bishop: Of course! It's basically a spin-off of the short film "Amateur Night" from the 2012 horror anthology V/H/S. The feature film is based around a bachelor party gone bad. The bachelor party ends up in a strange sex club with some weird supernatural things going on in it and the groom-to-be rescues a seemingly innocent girl who's locked up in the back of the club. Only, he discovers that this innocent girl isn't innocent at all, she's a dangerous, fabled, siren succubus predator whose chosen him to be her mate. On top of that, the friends are then being chased down by the proprietor of the club who will stop at nothing to get this creature back.
JC: That's awesome! So what inspired you in wanting to direct this short into a full feature film? Where you a fan of the short prior?
GB: Yeah, I was a huge fan of the short. The director of the short, David Bruckner, was tied up with FRIDAY THE 13TH at the time and wanted to see that through (unfortunately it ended up falling through). Producer Brad Miska approached me about directing SiREN and sent me the script. It was a well written script by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski and they did a great job adapting the short and expanding on the mythology and making something that could be made into a feature film. Lastly, I was a huge fan of David Bruckner and the fact that he was involved in the movie as a producer got me really excited to work with him. He was involved in the development of the script as well as the development of the movie so it was a great collaboration of a lot of filmmakers.
JC: What were some of the challenges you faced in making this short into a full length feature?
GB: The design of the short is about these bro's who were jerks that ultimately got what they deserved and I think when making the feature version we wanted to not do that because I think two hours with those guys would drive people crazy. Our approach was making the characters have redeemable qualities. Sure, they are at a bachelor party but they are still people you can get behind and was to see pull through and survive. Also, the short was built around that one shocking surprise of "oh shit, the girl is the monster" and it's terrifying and wonderful, so for the feature we knew going in that the cat was already out of the bag. Everyone knows that she's a monster and what we found when making the movie is that that notion adds such wonderful suspense to every scene. The audience knows who she is but the characters don't know, that's Hitchcock 101, that's some fun stuff to play with.
JC: When it came to casting the roles did you know who you had in mind other than Hannah Fierman?
GB: The producers wanted to originally do a wide casting to look at everyone for Hanna's role but I knew that Hannah made that role iconic in the short. Though she had to go through the casting process for a role that she already played, in the back of my mind I had no question that it HAD to be her. As far as everyone else in the cast, 80% of my job is who I choose and I knew I wanted actor who were capable of human emotions and who could go to the place that they needed to go to achieve that. It was really important that I find that type of talent. I got a gift in the lead actor, Chase Williamson, who is super talented. His character is really interesting because it flips the stereotype of a guy usually chasing the girl, since in this film it's quite literally the girl chasing the guy - Chase ends up kind of being the Final Girl in this film. We knew that he played these quirky/smartass characters in films like JOHN DIES AT THE END and THE GUEST so I can't wait for people to see him in this movie because he really brings it. Then we have Justin Welborn who plays Mr. Nyx, the proprietor of the club, and he's kind of our main villain. Justin plays him in such a great way. He was in David Bruckner's THE SIGNAL and he's in my film DANCE OF THE DEAD so we knew Justin would take the character of Mr. Nyx to a really fun, dark place and bring thousands of ideas to the table. If nothing else, audiences are really going to enjoy this cast and enjoy seeing their performances.
JC: Now that SiREN has come out, what can your fans look forward to from you in the future?
GB: I am writing an original science fiction thriller that I plan on directing as well as working on developing an original horror film that I also plan on directing. I also have a spec script that I co-wrote with Joe Ballarini (DANCE OF DEAD) that was sold to Sony Pictures called LOCKDOWN AT FRANKLIN HIGH which is basically a monster movie set in high-school.
SiREN is now out on VOD, Digital HD and DVD from Chiller Films.