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There’s something SINISTER in the air and writer/director Steve Sessions spoke to Fangoria.com about his latest film, a psychological/supernatural chiller from Brain Damage Films due May 3. See exclusive pics and comments from the film, which stars starring DEAD CLOWNS’ Lucien Eisenach and MARK OF THE ASTRO-ZOMBIES’ Donna Hamblin, below the jump.
SINISTER concerns Emily (Hamblin), “a woman who seems to be haunted, or whose house seems to be haunted, for reasons unknown,” says Sessions, who previously helmed CREMAINS, DEAD CLOWNS, TORMENT, MALEFIC and other low-budget flicks. “Ultimately, with the help of her brother and a ghost hunter, she determines that she’s been cursed by a hoodoo practitioner [Lucien Eisenach] she unknowingly pissed off. Then it’s a race to learn about the hex and try to stop it before it’s too late.
“We worked hard on making SINISTER transcend its restrictions and come off as something more expensive than it was,” Sessions continues. “Having actors that belong in big budget movies helps a great deal to make it look like a ‘real’ movie; Donna Hamblin, Luc Bernier, Lucien Eisenach and a special appearance by Isabelle Stephen help up the production value a great deal.”
SINISTER, like many other cheapie films, was faced with an extremely short shooting schedule—only five days in Biloxi, Mississippi—as well as constraints when dealing with special FX. “The limitations of micro budget affect everything,” says Sessions. “You go handheld because there’s no time to set up shots, etc., but you make it make sense for the story. Most [special FX] on SINISTER were practical effects—a corpse in a wheelchair just needs an offscreen push—or old school editing tricks like split screen for when Donna’s reflection doesn’t move the same way she does. There was supposed to be a CGI creature, but the CGI artist disappeared on us, and we brought the skeleton back out. I’ve said before, I think they call them B-movies because you always have to have a plan B. Even when you craft the product around your limitations, things happen and you have to be able to roll with it. A ‘real’ movie can go over schedule; we can’t when the star has to be on a plane the next day or everyone has to get back to their real jobs.”
Sessions reveals that unlike most directors, the way in which he developed the idea for SINISTER was backward. “I try to figure out what I’ve got or can afford and fashion a story out of that,” he says. “This way you don’t run into a heavily compromised version of what you wanted—you compromise on paper first. I’m not sure what exactly started our ‘voodoo movie,’ or ‘movie voodoo movie,’ since voodoo in film is a different animal completely. Being near New Orleans has kept the idea alive for sometime. I just knew I wanted Donna Hamblin as the lead female dealing with supernatural events, and it had to happen mostly in one place with a few characters.”
In ranking SINISTER up against his past efforts, Sessions says, “I try to do different things each time, so it’s hard to compare. There’s only so much you can do on low budgets, so I like anthologies because you aren’t expected to build to a large crescendo, which translates to time and money, but a cool idea, then you start over again. But anthologies don’t sell, they all tell you, and it’s a limited taste. On features, I try to hold something back for the end. I think SINISTER has a better grasp of all this since I’ve been doing these for so long now, and I hope it’s a more satisfying movie.”
You can find out more about SINISTER here.
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