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AICN HORROR talks with Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, the directors of RESOLUTION! Plus the winners of the BluRay/DVD Contest!

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What the &#$% is ZOMBIES & SHARKS?

Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with a special AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. Last year, reviewed RESOLUTION for AICN HORROR and praised it for being one twisted little mind-fuck of a movie. I recently had a chance to catch up with the directors/writers of the film Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, but before I do that, let’s announce the winners of the RESOLUTION BluRay/DVD contest I ran last week in which I had readers fill in the blank in the following sentence; “If I had to take my friend somewhere to detox from drugs, I’d take him _____(where)____!”

Here are the winners of the contest…

Jeremy Thompson (who wrote; If I had to take my friend somewhere to detox from drugs, I'd take him to the local nursing home, where I'd glue a prosthetic old man face over his real one, break both of his legs, and register him as my senile grandfather!)
Dave Machado (who wrote; If I had to take my friend somewhere to detox from drugs, I'd take him to the Target because I'm selfish and have a few errands to run, so maybe I can kill two birds with one stone!)


Now let’s see what Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead had to say about RESOLUTION!

BUG: All right, so here I am with Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, the directors and writers of RESOLUTION. You guys also have a new project coming out, but let’s talk about RESOLUTION FIRST. That’s a film that really blew me away when I first saw it a while back. I think I caught it last year at some point. Can you describe it in a hundred words or less? I know it’s kind of hard.

JUSTIN BENSON (JB): Yeah, it’s the story of a young man and his best friend who rent a cabin in the woods to help with sobriety and the events of that week are manipulated by something… that’s the central mystery of the movie. In the most general sense it’s a horror film, but it stands out and gets called out for it’s “genre bending.” That wasn’t an intentional thing. It’s tough to describe exactly what it is, but in the most general sense it’s a horror film, but it has a lot of humor and effective drama between the two friends.

BUG: It’s also got a little bit of sci-fi in there as well at it’s very basis without revealing too much. So guys, how do you divide up the chores as far as directing, writing, producing and all of that stuff?

AARON MOOREHEAD (AM): We are actually a little bit backwards… We have a very interesting dynamic and it is honestly very weird, it’s like a match made in heaven, although I find Just in very unattractive, so it’s not like a husband exactly and only because I’m into girls. He’s a very attractive man actually, but the thing is we just really consider ourselves co-filmmakers, which is a very broad term, but we just make the movie together. There are certain duties that one does, like “he writes. I do the cinematography” and that kind of thing, but it’s definitely not in any way a hands off thing between the tow of us. Every single shot that I ever shoot as cinematographer is very highly informed by him and I mean if he’s not watching the monitor it’s a real problem. It’s a very… We do everything together and we try to do everything in our films as much informed by the other as possible. So we do a lot of our own producing, although we have a wonderful producer partner in Dave Lawson. He writes, we both direct, cinematography, editing, visual effects, we take it all the way through, so we are just “co-filmmakers” and not so much like “Hands off, that’s my thing.”

BUG: So many writers and their stories often say that they are writing about themselves, so I guess my question for both of you guys is “Who is the meth head here?” and “Who is the savior?” between the two of you guys?

JB: I don’t know.

AM: I’m probably the meth head, I guess. You’re very controlled and mysterious whereas I just kind of say whatever comes out of my mouth like an idiot all of the time. There’s a “but” with that.

JB: The whole story for RESOLUTION was just conceived from… like the very earliest idea was “How do you make a movie that’s actually frightening?” I think that the high concept horror sci-fi thing of RESOLUTION, this idea of an unseen antagonist that operates through the typography and manipulates people to have stories told, that’s almost the most frightening thing, but then the thing is it’s just like JAWS, if that frightening thing doesn’t work or the shark doesn’t really work unless you really care about your characters and you do that through having levity in a stressful situation and then you have them breaking your heart the next second like real people do.

AM: I think we made good characters and that’s why the movie is so scary for people.

JB: And as far as the drug aspect of the story, that was always a way to conveniently structure the movie into seven days. It was like “detox for seven days.”

BUG: As you are talking about this, this movie is nothing like SINISTER, but they both involve finding these clips of movies and having that really affect their reality. When SINISTER came out, did you guys have an “Oh shit” moment when you heard about what the film was about and were worried that your film was going to be perceived or lumped in together with that movie?

JB: It’s weird, Aaron and I live in such a bubble, like not knowing anything about pop culture, but there have been movies that came out since we made RESOLUTION where you… Nobody has ever said like “RESOLUTION is exactly like CABIN IN THE WOODS” or “RESOLUTION is exactly like the EVIL DEAD remake” or “RESOLUTION is exactly like SINISTER.”

AM: Yeah.

JB: There are odd similarities to all of them, but at the same time no one has ever said… which CABIN IN THE WOODS is fucking brilliant.

AM: You saw INSIDIOUS didn’t you?

JB: No, but he’s talking about SINISTER.

AM: Oh, my bad. You’re right. I’m thinking of INSIDIOUS. Okay.

JB: Yeah, but it’s interesting. No one has ever said that anyone ripped anyone off or was even inspired by anyone. I think we were all making these movies at roughly the same time, but there are some odd similarities. I feel like it’s just far enough apart where you’re like “If you liked this movie, you might like that one.”

BUG: I see you have a cameo from Bill Oberst in there. What was it like working with him? He’s such a cool genre actor.

JB: What’s really awesome, on set… of course we had a weird little interaction with him before although we didn’t remember when we cast him. He was just an actor who came into audition and he rocked it. He memorized fifty pages of monologue just for the audition, which is pretty amazing. But on set he was just such a good southern “good ol’ boy.” Peter Cilella in the film and he came from the same town in South Carolina or something like that if I’m not mistaken and he was just eating raw kale and very gently offered him some. He was very soft spoken and extremely nice and incredibly focused; a very intense actor who didn’t need much direction, he just fell right into it you know?

BUG: And the other two actors in the film, are they friends of yours? How did you get those guys to be in the film?

JB: We had cast them in this really, really low budget online commercial. They were friends and they just have this chemistry as friends that’s really fun to watch. So then the movie was written for them… All of RESOLUTION was written to basically accommodate what we had available to us and they were the two best actors that were available to us.

AM: It’s pretty cool actually. They were friends and still are. That’s the one cool thing about making a movie on a microbudget, you can just cast the best actors. That might sound like “Of course that’s what you do,” but actually you don’t do that on bigger budgets. There are other concerns, but it’s…

JB: Some time you hit the jackpot and find good actors who also have marketability and that’s awesome. That’s our struggle, making sure that they also rock on their next projects and stuff and they have been.

BUG: Well I have to ask about your sex preview of the film, the one that you sent me that was along there and I was going to add that in this interview. Who were the masterminds behind that commercial that you guys did for the film.

AM: The RESOLUTION sex scene was a collaboration between Aaron and I like everything else after it.

JB: That’s an adaptation of a film intro to After Dark Film Festival where it was such a popular film intro that they actually made up an award for “best film intro.” We didn’t win any other awards at that festival for RESOLUTION, but we did win “best intro,” so that sex tape that Aaron and I created is an adaptation of a film intro.

AM: Let’s make it clear for the readers who haven’t seen it, it is not a sex take of Justin and I.

JB: Hey, they might watch it. Come on, we’re marketing here man!

AM: There’re girls in it!

BUG: So let’s talk about your new project. I know that you talked about moving in to bigger projects and everything. I’m sure after they saw RESOLUTION there were a lot of people knocking at your door wanting you to make the next big thing, so what is that coming up next for you guys?

AM: I’m so proud to announce TRANSFORMERS 5. No…

JB: Yeah, there was a little lull in the promotion of RESOLUTION and film festival stuff where I basically wrote three more feature films after RESOLUTION when I had time to do that and then we’ve got half thought of things too, but the one thing that we decided to do that we thought was the best project for us is a movie called SPRING. It’s a story of a young man who flees Southern California and ends up on the southern coast of Italy where he sparks up a romance with this girl. It’s this very natural romance that you really believe is happening and when they go their separate ways you find out this thing about the girl. She’s going through these transformations, these really grotesque transformations. After a while you think maybe she’s a werewolf or vampire or sea creature, but this is all misdirection. They are all red herrings and we get to the third act and we learn that she is something completely new. She’s this monster who seduces a man every twenty five years and then conceives and then metabolizes from embryonic stem cells to remain immortal. So you see up to that point that these have all been red herrings with misdirection, it’s basically her body going haywire from pregnancy and you see all of these beasts… People have described it as… People are like “I really like it, because it reminds me of a Linklater movie mixed with a Cronenberg crossover,” which is not intentional. We’ve never actually made anything that was like “It’s this meets this and we will do it exactly like our favorite director.” It’s kind of like we thought we were making something cool and you’ve got to find an easy way to explain it to people and that was the best way.

BUG: Is there a lot of pressure having done such an unconventional movie like RESOLUTION to do another unconventional movie or is it just natural for you guys to do something a little bit different from the norm?

JB: Actually the opposite. There was a lot of pressure from people to do something that’s very… That’s the odd thing, “Hey I really like that weird movie you made, want to make this home invasion thriller?”

AM: It comes naturally to us to throw away stuff that rings too true and that stuff definitely has it’s place for an audience, it’s just not really our thing and we love all these kinds of movies, but it’s kind of like we are not particularly interest in doing things that are tried and true. We like trying something spectacularly and wildly new rather than something safe, like “Okay I’m glad that only cost a dollar ninety nine, but I wouldn’t watch that again.” We would rather try something else and give it at least our best shot, you know?

JB: It’s funny though, we get “We really like that movie you made, here’s the thing it’s a zombie movie, but there’s a twist, there’s an apocalypse.” You’re like “that’s not a twist, that’s like a lot of zombie movies.”

AM: It is interesting to see how many people agree with you about everything. They are like “This is like nothing you’ve ever seen before” and we are like “Cool” and then you’re reading this book and it’s like “This is like everything I’ve seen before. What is it you’re talking about that’s so new?” It’s frustrating honestly, because then you have to dance around it, like “yeah maybe…” You have to shut down a lot of people just because what they are pitching you doesn’t really work. That said, we’re not like the innovators of film, but we at least try really hard.

BUG: I think people who take a chance in cinema, those are also the films that I’m most interested in checking out. When is SPRING going to be released?

AM: SPRING shoots in mid October.

BUG: And RESOLUTION, is that available now? I saw it as a screener from a film festival, but has that been released? I posted a review of it in early January and I think it was on Video On Demand. Is that correct?

JB: Yeah, it did a little tiny limited theatrical back in January with its initial VOD run. Now it’s available on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon… I think it’s available on Hulu... Basically any digital video platform it’s probably on there somewhere and then coming to Showtime, Netflix, DVD and that kind of stuff.

BUG: Do you know when it’s going to be on DVD?

JB: Yeah, Showtime and Netflix in September and then the DVD releases October 8th and the DVD release is the one that we are most excited about, because we actually created so many DVD extras that there’s no more data left on the disk. We filled it to the brim. They had to tell us to stop. We didn’t have many deleted scenes, so we went and made some. We went to the exact locations and we shot really bad deleted scenes.

AM: Our stuff is so weird. You’ll have the traditional stuff like behind the scenes and the trailer and stuff, but we cut a parody trailer that makes it sound like BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and we have three commentaries where two of them are me and Justin and it’s like “Okay, that’s a commentary” and then it’s the whole crew and we are just drinking nonstop, so by the end of it it’s incoherent. There’s one with me and Justin and the dog and we can understand what the dog is saying… We have deleted scenes that should never had existed ever and also we made promo videos for every single film festival we go to, so we had like twenty promo videos, essentially little miniature short films of Justin and I just doing weird shit. It’s not just promoting a DVD here, it’s really a DVD we put our heart and soul into and it’s just really crazy as hell and weird, probably the weirdest DVD you will ever see.

BUG: Well I really do appreciate you guys taking the time out to talk with me today and I can’t wait to see what SPRING has to offer, it sounds like a really cool film and best of luck still with RESOLUTION. I think it’s a really fantastic film and it really blew me away when I first saw it, so congratulations on that film.

JB: Thanks man, we love what you’re doing over at Ain’t It Cool with your columns.

BUG: Thank you very much, I appreciate it. RESOLUTION is available now on BluRay & DVD and find out more about this film on Facebook here!

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 4. Mark’s written comics such as THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, DEATHSPORT GAMES, NANNY & HANK (soon to be a feature film from Uptown 6 Films), Zenescope’sGRIMM FAIRY TALES Vol.13 & UNLEASHED: WEREWOLVES – THE HUNGER and a chapter in Black Mask Studios’OCCUPY COMICS. FAMOUS MONSTERS’ LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (co-written with Martin Fisher) will be available soon in trade. Mark also wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK and its follow up THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitters @Mark_L_Miller.

Find out what are BLACK MASK STUDIOS and OCCUPY COMICS here and on Facebook here!

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