Hello Halloween people, what are you up to tonight? Are you going to be a cultural icon or a fictional character? Will you slip into one of those silly sexy adult costumes, or go with a classic distasteful/stupid/racist getup? This is your only opportunity in 2014 to be the thing you've always wanted (unless you're a sex offender).
Regardless of what everyone does tonight, we'll see the consequences tomorrow. We'll learn how many children were possibly drugged with candy, and people will realize that their sexual conquest was more of a sexual catastrophe (that's just one of the perils of flirting with people in full-body costumes). We might even uncover a bit of Halloween ultra-violence.
Say, for example, a murderer used the cover of Halloween to commit a heinous act. Not only could he hide in plain sight, but the drunken citizens out on the street might actually applaud his bloody, realistic costume. Before you go out and take that advice, check out this pitch-black comedy short, The Body, which is about that exact premise.
Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy on the Game of Thrones, stars as a murderer who, after his deadly deed, wraps the corpse up and lugs it down London's busy streets to bury it. On his way, a group of inebriated strangers stumble into him and strike up a conversation about his "costume." What results is a mercilessly twisted and funny Halloween night out-one that cleverly comments on a society that never looks beyond the surface (or underneath the mask).
Check out the trailer for The Body below. Then take a gander at my interview with director Paul Davis.
VICE: Do you really think someone could get away with murder on Halloween?
Paul Davis: The whole idea was to highlight the age of cynicism we live in. We're so sophisticated with special effects and props, that you just wouldn't even second guess someone dragging an actual dead body through the streets. It's almost the perfect crime-which I do not advocate in any way shape or form, kids! Even when we were shooting in the middle of a busy London street, there were times when we would purposefully leave the wrapped up body in the middle of a crosswalk to see how people reacted. Almost everyone walked right on by. It is disturbing, if you think about it.
There's no doubt that our society has a fascination with death (as long as it's not us). Do you think that it gets us into trouble?
Absolutely. But one of the things I deliberately touched upon is that all the guys involved in the film are drunk. We make stupid decisions when we've had a drink, and I took that to the extreme. It was very much born out of the notion that I'd probably go along with it too if I was hammered. Their lack of questioning comes down to circumstance. It's like a fatal domino effect of stupidity.
There's some great deadpan humor in your short.
The comedy in this was important for me to get right. We walked a narrow line to make sure that this didn't turn into parody. I've since jested that we were one joke away from being John Carpenter's Weekend at Bernie's. What's wonderful about the story is that it didn't have to set up any jokes. I like putting real, grounded characters in surreal situations. That way, we get genuine and somewhat relatable reactions when something goes seriously wrong. That can be very funny. If you play it straight, the humor will ease out the deeper you get.
You have a lot of other horror film references in The Body. What are some of your favorite Halloween movies and influences?
There were a lot more in the script, but I cut them out because I wanted to stick mainly to visual gags or audio cues. If people picked up on the Easter egg, then great. But if they didn't, they weren't taken out of the story. One Easter egg is the trick or treaters at the beginning from Halloween 3 and the use of "Swan Lake"-the song was used as an opening track to a handful of Universal horror pictures in the 1930s, including Dracula and The Mummy.
The major influences on this were visual more than anything. Both the Director of Production, Eben Bolter, and I wanted to capture an authentic yet cinematic Halloween look that was faithful to the likes of John Carpenter's Halloween and Trick 'r Treat. Films such as Hitchcock's The Trouble with Harry, Scorsese's After Hours, and Mary Harron's American Psycho also had a big hand in terms of keeping the tone consistent.
What are you working on now?
I'm currently in prep with producer Paul Fischer on a horror anthology titled Its Walls Were Blood. It's very much a "contemporary throwback"-drawing inspiration from the 60s and 70s and giving it a modern flavor. I'm directing the through-line story and final story in the piece. The other three directors include Tom Shankland, Sean Hogan, and Paul Hyett, who have written all their segments respectively (mine is co-written with Stefan Hutchinson).
We have a tremendous cast on board and start shooting at the beginning of next year. In addition, I'm attached to direct a feature next year for a company that I'm a huge fan of-and am extremely excited and humbled to be associated with. I also have a few screenplays with my co-writer that have just gone out to various producers. I've just completed my first solo attempt at a feature screenplay, which I'm very excited about. We'll see what happens. I'm being kept busy... Busy is good.
The Body premiered earlier this year at Fright Fest and screened a number of other festivals including Tribeca and Sitges where it won Best European Short. Paul Davis is a horror dude through and through. He made a number of films in the genre from the award winning short film Him Indoors and the 2009 documentary on An American Werewolf in London.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall mustached guy from Ohio who's seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as a film curator. He's the Senior Curator for Vimeo's On Demand platform. He has also programmed at Tribeca Film Festival, Rooftop Films, and the Hamptons International Film Festival.