“CHILD EATER”: First set report and exclusive photosMovies/TV,News Michael Gingold
On a cold night last month on the grounds of the former Catskill Game Farm—an upstate-New York zoo that closed in 2006—something even more dangerous than lions or tigers or bears is on the prowl. The eponymous villain of CHILD EATER is after fresh human eyes, and Fango is there to witness the action.
An expansion of the same-titled short film that chilled audiences at SXSW and other festivals, the CHILD EATER feature (which we previously reported on here) reunites many of the same team, including writer/director Erlingur Thoroddsen, producer Perri Nemiroff, cinematographer John Wakayama Carey, production designer Ramsey Scott, makeup FX artist Fiona Tyson and star Cait Bliss. The latter plays Helen, a young woman trying to protect a little boy named Lucas, played in this incarnation by Colin Critchley, who recently came off a six-month stint on Broadway opposite Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen in WAITING FOR GODOT.
The movie’s bogeyman, Robert Bowery, is played by Jason Martin, who cuts a creepy figure indeed in his full prosthetics (which cannot be revealed at this point). Thoroddsen (pictured in 1st photo below, and 2nd photo with Bliss) reveals that he had Martin in mind to play Bowery for the short, “but he’s in his 30s and we wanted the character to be very old, and we didn’t have any money for the short and couldn’t afford to do the makeup, so we ended up hiring a much older actor, which actually worked out really well. But for the feature, we knew we would need an actor who was capable of doing the many physical things we wanted, so I brought it up to Jason, and he was very interested in doing it. He’s been awesome; he’s a great physical actor, but he’s the total opposite of his character, so it’s fun to have him around in the makeup; he’s kind of the life of the set.”
Although the original CHILD EATER wasn’t intended to launch a longer version, Nemiroff recalls, “When we were developing the short, there was only so much time we had to tell that story, and there was always more that we wanted to include. Eventually, it grew to become something that had maybe one too many layers for a short film, and when people responded so positively to that, especially on the festival rounds, we committed to making the feature.” She adds that there was “no question” about reuniting as many of the original team as possible: “We would have taken every single person who was part of that if we could. The short was such a great experience, there’s no reason in the world that I wouldn’t want those people back.”
Having Bliss on board proved to be a boon to the independently financed production, Thoroddsen notes. “She has been incredibly helpful, since she’s from the town we’re shooting in. When we first gave her the script, she read it and came back to us with, ‘You guys realize that the town you have in your film is literally like the one I grew up in?’ We went scouting, and she was right; everything we needed was here. Her family has been very helpful and supportive in finding locations and everything else we needed for the film.”
That included the abandoned Catskill Game Farm, the discovery of which inspired a rewrite of the story, originally set at an abandoned summer camp. Tonight’s scenes are being lensed in the old rhinoceros pens, and Thoroddsen says, “It’s a large, scary building, and it’s got these long, dark hallways that are just perfect. You go in there, and they’re the creepiest thing you’ve ever seen.”
As Fango watches Bliss carefully make her way down the crumbling hallways, a flashlight in one hand and a fire ax in the other, bloody footprints on the floor and ominous shadows cast by Carey’s lighting, it’s easy to agree with him. She eventually makes her way to one of the larger rooms, strewn with bales of hay, more splatters of gore—and an eyeless corpse. A little later, in a side room being used for makeup and wardrobe, Tyson shows off some more of her handiwork—including edible eyeballs made of white chocolate and other sweet ingredients.
Amidst the grue, Nemiroff promises that CHILD EATER will also offer character content for audiences to chew on—for both the good people and the villain. “There’s so much to Robert Bowery,” she says, “and it has been really interesting to see the layers in which all these characters come together. They’re not just—I don’t want to call them one-dimensional, but in a 15-minute short they do have to be one-dimensional to a degree, and here everyone has issues and layers, and they feel real.” Keep your, um, eyes on this site and FANGORIA’s pages for more on CHILD EATER as it gets closer to release.