LATEST | FEATURES | INTERVIEWS | NEWS | FRIGHTFEST | REVIEWS

Interview with Paul Davis, director of Uncanny Annie
By James Whittington, Wednesday 16th October 2019

Ahead of the International premiere of Uncanny Annie at Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween 2019, director Paul Davis reflects on working for Blumhouse, bemoans attitudes to British genre film funding and reveals the movies that inspire him the most...

HC: Tell us how Uncanny Annie came about?

PD: Uncanny Annie is my second movie for Blumhouse as part of Hulu's Into The Dark movie series. I had the opportunity to actually kick off last October with a feature adaptation of my short film The Body (which had its world premiere at FF in 2013). The concept was to release a movie a month, for twelve months, with each revolving around a holiday or particular day for the month of its released. With The Body taking place on Halloween, it literally was a right place/right time scenario in which my co-writer, Paul Fischer, and I had literally just written a spec first draft of a feature version, and within a week it was sold to Blumhouse. The feature starred Tom Bateman, Rebecca Rittenhouse, Aurora Perrineau and Ray Santiago. I'm still hoping it'll drop in the UK at some point. I know Sony Worldwide own the rights outside of the US, so we'll see what happens. Until then the series did well enough to get a second year at Hulu and that's when I got the call to return to Halloween and make Uncanny Annie, which was my opportunity to do something completely different to The Body. Essentially I wanted to make a kids horror film with blood and swearing - inspired mostly by Joe Dante's The Hole and Robert Rodriguez's The Faculty.

HC: What were the particular challenges you faced?

PD: Oh man, where to start. First of all these are super low budget movies, but of course, with the Blumhouse brand comes huge expectation, so these are very ambitious films for very little time and money. With The Body being my first film, every day was a learning experience. I at least had a bit more money and a few more days on that one compared to Uncanny Annie. When it came to Annie I was faced with a three week prep from the day I received the script (which was being re-written), a 16 day shoot, and under $1m to do a movie that ended up with over 200 VFX shots. That said, coming into this film I knew that this is exactly how these movies are now made - and they've just completed 12 of them in a year. That is an insane and impressive achievement. So for me it was about coming in and making the best damn movie I could within those parameters. And that's the same with all of the filmmakers on this. Sophia Takal, Nacho Vigalondo, Gigi Saul Guerrero, Daniel Stamm, Patrick Lussier... doesn't matter if it's your first movie, or your eighth. We all get the same shake. And what's great about Blumhouse is that they give you the freedom to create your movie with 100% encouragement. All that aside, the biggest challenge for me was post production. My mother sadly passed away a week before my director's cut was due, so I had to fly back to London and consult on the edit from London. It wasn't easy, but we eventually got there, and I couldn't be more proud of the film, and excited to share it with a FrightFest audience.

HC: Your breakthrough movie was the much praised documentary Beware The Moon: Remembering An American Werewolf In London (2009). John Landis introduced the film at FrightFest, Was that a defining moment in your career?

PD: It certainly was at the time, and without Beware The Moon I wouldn't have met Reece Shearsmith, which means Him Indoors wouldn't have happened, which means no The Body either. So it was definitely the moment that kickstarted everything for me. I got to say thank you to John by giving him a cameo in my feature adaptation of The Body.

HC: You began your career as a writer/journalist, specialising in horror cinema. Would you say those roots have helped you grow as a filmmaker?

PD: Absolutely. Not only in the sense that your own research leads you to discover movies that had previously passed you by, but had I not been a staff writer at Horrorhound in 2006, I would never have written the 25th retrospective on An American Werewolf In London that lead to the documentary. In terms of my current projects, they're littered with Easter eggs to movies I love. It's always fun when someone sends me a tweet that they've spotted something new.

HC: You've also written a couple of books: Lost In The Shadows - The Story of The Lost Boys and Beware The Moon - The Story of An American Werewolf in London. Any literary plans for the future?

PD: I'm an 'idle hands' kind of guy. I can't sit and not do anything. These were done purely out of frustration, waiting for movie projects to green light. They were a lot of fun, but I have no desire to do anymore. I also did some creature performing during that time. I played a sand monster in a Mark Gatiss written episode of Doctor Who (which reunited me with Reece Shearsmith) and then spent the best part of a year on Solo - A Star Wars Story as a wookiee.

HC: Do you have a favourite bunch of horror movies? You're not allowed to list American Werewolf In London!

PD: I do, but you know what, the older I get the more I feel my sensibilities getting tamer and tamer. I couldn't watch a movie like Martyrs again. Or Last House On The Left for that matter. One thing that has never changed is my love for The Exorcist, which to this day I still believe is the greatest movie ever made. George Romero's Dawn Of The Dead also remains a comfort movie of mine - as is De Palma's Carrie. I watch that movie whenever I'm about to start shooting a new movie. It's my lucky rabbit's foot.

HC: Finally, what's next for you?

Uncanny Annie came out I the US on October 4th so right now I'm reading a million and one screenplays to make sure what's next is something I believe in and feel passionate about. There are a couple of things in the pipeline, but until anything is signed, I can't really talk about them. In addition, I'm also writing my own material again, which is pretty much what I'm spending my time doing right now.

Uncanny Annie is at 3.15pm at Cineworld, Leicester Sq. on Saturday 2 November, as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest Halloween all-dayer. Paul will be introducing the film.


MORE FRIGHTFEST
Interview with Adrian Langley, director of Butchers.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
FrightFest-Halloween-2020

Butchers is a superb piece of horror cinema from Adrian Langley. Here he chats about this grim and gruesome piece and his plans for the future.

HC: Where did the idea for Butchers come from?

AL: Butchers came from two of Daniel Weissenberger's old screenplays - he writes a lot - and I remixed them with some ideas that had been kicking around in my head after having read those scripts a long time ago.

HC: Did it take long to write?

AL: Not at all. Because Dan's scripts were so full already, the initial working draft only took about two weeks to put together and then I did a lot of rewriting during the prep process to streamline it to what...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Andrew Thomas Hunt, director of Spare Parts.
Posted on Tuesday 27th October 2020
Spare Parts

FrightFest is all about the diversity of movies, none more so than Spare Parts from director Andrew Thomas Hunt. This superb mash-up of gladiator-style fighting and a scorching soundtrack is desitined to become a cult classic so we chatted to Andrew about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

AH: I did - from the age of 16. I was a huge fan of David Cronenberg's films, and when I discovered that he was not only from Toronto, but made his films here, it made me realize you didn't have to be from Hollywood to make movies.

HC: How did you become attached to this wild project?

AH: It was pitched to me at TIFF (Toronto Int'l ...

SHARE: READ MORE
And the winner is... Benny Loves You!
Posted on Monday 26th October 2020

The winner of the FrightFest Horror Channel First Blood Award 2020 is... Benny Loves You!

Here, Channel Manager Stewart Bridle chats to its very talented director, Karl Holt.

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Liam O'Donnell director of SKYLIN3S
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
skylin3s-poster

FrightFest Digital Edition 2 concludes tonight with an out-of-this-world premiere, SKYLIN3S. Here its writer and director Liam O'Donnell talks about this and the other entries in this sci-fi series.

HC: You've been involved with the Skyline series of movies from the start, where did the initial idea come from?

LD: Initially the idea just came from, we were sort of do it ourselves film makers and I had been living in the building we ended up shooting in. We had already been illegally shooting on the rooftop helipad for a pitch that we were developing and when Greg's (Greg Strause, director of Skyline) unit on the top floor and he walked in and saw this big, expansive view of LA...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Paul Tanter director and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Prolific creative Paul Tanter has delivered a real treat for FrightFest pass holders today, the blood-splattered shocker, The Nights Before Christmas. Here he chats about this cracker of a movie.

HC: Have you always been a fan of the horror genre?

PT: Absolutely. One of my first cinema memories is my dad taking me to see Fright Night in 1985 and there being a promotional pack of vampire teeth on every seat. I was five at the time so I'm not sure how he snuck me in there, considering it's rated 18. I grew up watching The Omen films, in parts enthralled and terrified by them. I still can't pass that church in Fulham without keeping an eye on ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Simon Phillips, star and co-writer of The Nights Before Christmas
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
The Nights Before Christmas-poster

Seasonal slashers are once again coming into vogue but none as brutal as The Nights Before Christmas. Here, its star and co-writer Simon Phillips tells all about this movie.

HC: Did you know from a young age that you wanted to work in the film industry?

SP: I don't know if I ever was sure I was going to be in the film industry but as a child I sure liked talking a lot and my teacher once shouted at me "They'd better pay you to talk when you grow up, because you sure like the sound of your own voice"... So perhaps it was always on the cards!

HC: Are you a fan of horror movies?

SP: To be honest they terrify me... not the o...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Elza Kephart, director and co-writer of Slaxx
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
SLAXX_Elza_(C)photoB-Calmeau_0125FrightFest is all about originality and new talent and 2020 has been a belter of a year for such things. Slaxx from Elza Kephart is a prime example of the new and exciting creative talent that's out there at the moment. We chatted to Elza about this superb shocker.

HC: Are you a big horror movie fan?

EK: Yes, huge! I started my horror adventure when I was a pre-teen, reading Agatha Christie, R.L. Stine, Christopher Pike, Anne Rice. If there wasn't a death I wasn't interested. From that, I migrated to horror films; when I was about ten, I watched Aliens, the Fearless Vampire Hunters, Exorcist 2. I might have been a little too young, I remember being re...

SHARE: READ MORE
Hair scares, killer jeans, Santa slays and an invasion from above. Day 5 of FrightFest Digital Edition 2
Posted on Sunday 25th October 2020
slaxx-poster

We reach the final day of FrightFest but what awaits us will ensure that the event ends not with a bang but with an alien invasion!

It's always exciting when new creatives release work and The Stylist from Jill Gervargizian is no exception. Everyone dreams of being someone else... but for Claire that dream goes from an obsession to a living nightmare. Her job as a hairstylist allows her to move through other people's worlds, but when the right target sits in her chair, she does more than observe the client's life - she ends it, and keeps a permanent souvenir. Her lonely life, meticulous method and shocking secrets are suddenly thrown into turmoil when her regular client, Olivia, asks her to s...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Adam Leader and Richard Oakes, co-directors of Hosts
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
hosts-poster

Hosts is a dark, brooding and sinister movie from two very talented creatives, Adam Leader and Richard Oakes. Here they chat about this outstanding movie.

HC: Have you always been fans of this genre?

AL: Yes, the first film I ever watched was the original Nightmare on Elm Street when I was eight years old. That turned me on to the horror genre, and since then I became absolutely horror obsessed. Every weekend, my dad would take me to the video store, and I'd choose the most messed up movie I could find for him to rent for me.

RO: Yes, coming from a family with a sister 7 years older than me, I was always fascinated by the films her and her friends used to watch. I walked in...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Barry Keating, writer of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Barry Keating at NIGHTWORLD on 25/08/2017Barry Keating is a scriptwriter who has had quite a number of movies at FrightFest over the years. He's back with another shocker for 2020, this time the truth might be out there in Embryo. We chatted to him about this sci-fi chiller.

HC: We show another of your movies on Horror, Nightworld, what's it like writing a script, which has horror legend Robert Englund in it?

BK: When I found out they'd cast Robert in the role that was a very surreal day. At first I didn't quite believe it, but when the producer forwarded a message from Robert to me saying that he really dug the script I completely geeked out. I'm a hug...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Patricio Valladares, director of Embryo
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
Embryo image 1

Chilean director Patricio Valladares is back at FrightFest and this time he's taking us into the science fiction zone with Embryo. Here he chats about working with Robert Englund on Nightworld and this sci-fi shocker.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror and sci-fi movies?

PV: Yes, from my childhood, my old brother watched Jason Voorhees and A Nightmare on Elm Street film series at home with a couple friends in the 80s. So, I always went from the bathroom to the living room at night to watch from behind the sofa with them. I Loved it! I liked the ultraviolence and gore from Robocop. When I was 14 or 15 I was a metalhead, so I had lots of tapes of death metal and a lot of low ...

SHARE: READ MORE
Interview with Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer, directors of Alien on Stage
Posted on Saturday 24th October 2020
alien-on-stage-poster

FrightFest always has a fine selection of documentaries showing, but none have touched hearts like Alien on Stage. This warm and loving look at an amateur stage production of the classic movie Alien has been placed in the running for the Horror Channel sponsored First Blood award so we chatted to directors Lucy Harvey and Danielle Kummer about this wonderful project.

HC: How long have you worked together and are you fans of the film, Alien?

We met working on a no budget British indie film in 2006 (I think) both working for free. Danielle was a camera trainee, I was the costume stylist. It was like going through a war together, it cemented our friendship and Danille...

SHARE: READ MORE
Frightfest Archive: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
PICK OF THE WEEK
John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars
JOHN CARPENTER'S GHOSTS OF MARS
Thursday 13th May
10.50 PM
Tales From The Darkside
TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE
Sunday 23rd May
8.30 PM
The House Next Door
THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR
Saturday 22nd May
6.40 PM