“END OF THE LINE” director talks new film project, Sawney Bean graphic novel (artist wanted!)
Maurice Devereaux, the Montreal-based writer/director of the truly chilling underground-cult movie END OF THE LINE (pictured above), is going multimedia, with two new projects: a feature he’s scripted called UNKNOWN DELIVERY, and a graphic novel (for which he’s seeking an illustrator) titled ROYAL DEMONS.
Speaking to Fango at this past summer’s Fantasia festival, where UNKNOWN DELIVERY was part of the Frontières Co-Production Market, Devereaux reveals that there are thematic similarities between this movie (for which he’s currently seeking financing) and END OF THE LINE. “It continues the theme of having to do with religion, but in a completely different way,” he tells us. “The basic idea is that people who are against women’s rights and abortion, their argument is always, ‘God does not want that, God forbids it, blah blah blah.’ And Bill Maher once did a great joke that immediately inspired me: He talked to one of these anti-abortion people and said, ‘Well, what if it was Rosemary’s baby? Would it be OK to abort that one?’ Immediately, I sat down and I wrote my script! I had actually been working on another screenplay that goes to a place that has never really been seen in a horror film, so I sort of combined both ideas into UNKNOWN DELIVERY.”
Devereaux’s story centers on a young woman named Danielle who comes across a 17th-century book called THE SECOND COMING, which reveals that Jesus Christ’s reappearance will occur after a virgin gives birth to Satan’s offspring. She herself is unsullied, and when she inexplicably becomes pregnant, she believes she is carrying Satan’s child and plans to have it aborted—only to be kidnapped by an Apocalypse cult devoted to ensuring the birth of the Antichrist.
While committed to exploring his hot-button subject, Devereaux says he’s not aiming to ire people with UNKNOWN DELIVERY. “It’s not a question of provocation,” he says, “it’s just that for me, a really good movie—especially a good horror movie—can have all the thrills and enjoyment, but underneath it can explore real issues and comment on them. The envelope of an entertaining horror movie is the sugar coating to get the medicine down, and talk about important, real-life issues that are unfortunately still very prevalent today.” Nor does he plan to make DELIVERY as grisly as END OF THE LINE: “It’s more psychological, slow-burn-type horror. There’s a bit of effects, of course—that would be like no spice on your steak!—but it’s not gore-heavy at all.”
A different sort of persecution informs ROYAL DEMONS, “a huge graphic novel that encompasses the life of King James VI,” which may wind up divided into two parts: one covering the persecution of the “witches” of North Berwick, and the other involving the highwayman Sawney Bean and his cannibal clan, who inspired the likes of Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES and Jack Ketchum’s novel OFF SEASON. Devereaux started out writing this saga as a screenplay, “but it would have been so expensive to do as a film, because I would have had to recreate 16th-century Scotland, etc. So I sort of put the script away, and then a friend got into making comic books, and it just dawned on me: Why don’t I just turn it into a graphic novel?”
While it’s a historical saga first and foremost, ROYAL DEMONS is chock full of “true horror, because it covers the actual witch tortures and burnings. It’s real horror, not supernatural, because my view, as an atheist and a realist, is that witches don’t exist [laughs]. So it’s more like WITCHFINDER GENERAL. I loved that movie when I was growing up, and it had an impact on me. I read up on history to feed this project; I went through like 20 400-page books and the actual trial transcripts from Scotland, from the archives, of what the people said when they were being tortured and the confessions and everything. I was reading those, like, ‘Oh God, it’s so f**king disgusting!’ ”
Devereaux is currently putting the finishing touches on the over-300-page ROYAL DEMONS script; an artist started but then departed the project (samples of his unfinished work can be seen below), and Devereaux is currently seeking a new one to take it on. This will be a paid gig, so interested illustrators can send submissions or links to their work at mauricedevereaux(at)videotron.ca. Potential producers/backers for UNKNOWN DELIVERY can contact Devereaux there as well.