According to the official synopsis for the new horror flick Barricade, actor Eric McCormack's widowed father Terrence Shade takes his his kids on a vacation that leaves them the target of supernatural forces. C'mon Shade, what were you thinking? A cabin in the middle of the woods?! A recipe for disaster — especially when the decor screams pure evil.
Designing the perfect haunted house is no easy task, and as Production Designer Geoff Wallace explains in this exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the Barricade DVD, every nook and cranny must be ready to provoke fear. The action in the movie could go anywhere, so Wallace and his team were meticulous about peppering their main location with period architecture, creepy artifacts, and tons of taxidermy (easily the scariest home accessory of all).
Barricade was produced by the thriving genre production company WWE Studios (yes, that WWE) and directed by Andrew Currie, the twisted mind behind 2006's Fido. The clip won't spoil anything, but it does give you a sense that everyone working on the film knows what they're doing. And what they're doing is effectively scaring you. Check out the sneak peek below.
Barricade arrives on DVD today, September 25.
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
[Photo Credit: WWE Studios]
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There is something particularly unnerving about demon possession. It's the idea of something you can't see or control creeping into your body and taking up residence eventually obliterating all you once were and turning you into nothing more than a sack of meat to be manipulated. Then there's also the shrouded ritual around exorcisms: the Latin chants the flesh-sizzling crucifixes and the burning Holy Water. As it turns out exorcism isn't just the domain of Catholics.
The myths and legends of the Jews aren't nearly as well known but their creepy dybbuk goes toe-to-toe with anything other world religions come up with. There are various interpretations of what a dybbuk is or where it comes from — is it a ghost a demon a soul of a sinner? — but in any case it's looking for a body to hang out in for a while. Especially according to the solemn Hasidic Jews in The Possession an innocent young person and even better a young girl.
The central idea in The Possession is that a fancy-looking wooden box bought at a garage sale was specifically created to house a dybbuk that was tormenting its previous owner. Unfortunately it caught the eye of young Emily (Natasha Calis) a sensitive artistic girl who persuades her freshly divorced dad Clyde (Jeffrey Dean Morgan of Watchmen and Grey's Anatomy) to buy it for her. Never mind the odd carvings on it — that would be Hebrew — or how it's created without seams so it would be difficult to open or why it's an object of fascination for a young girl; Clyde is trying really hard to please his disaffected daughters and do the typical freshly divorced parent dance of trying to please them no matter the cost.
Soon enough the creepy voices calling to Emily from the box convince her to open it up; inside are even creepier personal objects that are just harbingers of what's to come for her her older sister Hannah (Madison Davenport) her mom Stephanie (Kyra Sedgwick) and even Stephanie's annoying new boyfriend Brett (Grant Show). Clyde and Stephanie squabble over things like pizza for dinner and try to convince each other and themselves that Emily's increasingly odd behavior is that of a troubled adolescent. It's not of course and eventually Clyde enlists the help of the son of a Hasidic rabbi a young man named Tzadok played by the former Hasidic reggae musician Matisyahu to help them perform an exorcism on Emily.
The Possession is not going to join the ranks of The Exorcist in the horror pantheon but it does do a remarkable job of making its characters intelligent and even occasionally droll and it offers up plenty of chills despite a PG-13 rating. Perhaps it's because of that rating that The Possession is so effective; the filmmakers are forced to make the benign scary. Giant moths and flying Torahs take the place of little Reagan violently masturbating with a crucifix in The Exorcist. Gagging and binging on food is also an indicator of Emily's possession — an interesting twist given the anxieties of becoming a woman a girl Emily's age would face. There is something inside her controlling her and she knows it and she is fighting it. The most impressive part of Calis's performance is how she communicates Emily's torment with a few simple tears rolling down her face as the dybbuk's control grows. The camerawork adds to the anxiety; one particularly scary scene uses ordinary glass kitchenware to great effect.
The Possession is a short 92 minutes and it does dawdle in places. It seems as though some of the scenes were juggled around to make the PG-13 cut; the moth infestation scene would have made more sense later in the movie. Some of the problems are solved too quickly or simply and yet it also takes a while for Clyde's character to get with it. Stephanie is a fairly bland character; she makes jewelry and yells at Clyde for not being present in their marriage a lot and then there's a thing with a restraining order that's pretty silly. Emily is occasionally dressed up like your typical horror movie spooky girl with shadowed eyes an over-powdered face and dark clothes; it's much more disturbing when she just looks like an ordinary though ill young girl. The scenes in the heavily Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn look oddly fake and while it's hard to think of who else could have played Tzadok an observant Hasidic Jew who is also an outsider willing to take risks the others will not Matisyahu is not a very good actor. Still the filmmakers should be commended for authenticity insofar as Matisyahu has studied and lived as a Hasidic Jew.
It would be cool if Lionsgate and Ghost House Pictures were to release the R-rated version of the movie on DVD. What the filmmakers have done within the confines of a PG-13 rating is creepy enough to make me curious to see the more adult version. The Possession is no horror superstar and its name is all too forgettable in a summer full of long-gestating horror movies quickly pushed out the door. It's entertaining enough and could even find a broader audience on DVD. Jeffrey Dean Morgan can read the Old Testament to me any time.
The Robinsons lead a rather idyllic life in Willard a town that looks like a throwback to the 1950s. But actually we are in the future where zombies once walk the Earth. A corporation called Zomcom has figure out how to control all the zombies and suppress their flesh-eating nature with collars so now the undead have become domestic servants to the living. Mom Robinson (Carrie-Anne Moss) doesn't want to be the last on her block to have a zombie of her own but Dad (Dylan Baker) is reluctant. Nevertheless the Robinsons get their zombie Fido (Billy Connolly). He is clumsy howls at lightning and is chained up outside. But he is also obedient and eventually bonds with the young Timmy Robinson (K'Sun Ray) protecting him from bullies. Mr. Bottoms (Henry Czerny) the head of security for Zomcom and his family move in across the street and warns them you can't be too friendly with the flesh eaters because they will turn on you if those collars malfunction. He’s right. Even if Fido loves the Robinsons once he loses that collar around his neck he is going straight for their brains. Moss is particularly good in Fido showing some of that indie moxie she displayed in Memento. She gets to deliver completely ridiculous lines such as "Honey just because your father tried to eat you when you were younger doesn’t mean we have to be unhappy forever?" with a wonderfully straight face and plays the role as a perfect housewife with aplomb. No doubt K'Sun Ray is made to look like a young Macaulay Culkin on purpose and he's pretty adept at showing his concern for the underprivileged zombies worrying about their feelings. But the movie really belongs to Connolly so excellent at emoting through grotesque make-up and moss-green teeth without ever saying a word. Kudos to director Andrew Currie who has taken the zombie flick and turned into a comical morality tale. Of course he’s taking aim at the world today hinting at issues about immigration racism and alternative families. The underlying themes are quite meaningful especially when Dad says things like "Being alive is what counts feelings are not important." For example the Robinsons go to funerals for fun on weekends since most people can't afford the ones that guarantee their bodies will stay put unless they have it done by the Zomcom corporation. Good stuff. Yes it’s true that Fido’s world is a scary one but Currie and his team manage to poke fun at the zombie horror genre.