Exclusive: “DEVIL’S DUE” Deleted Scene; Q&A with filmmakers Radio Silence
Following their well-received segment of V/H/S, filmmaking troupe Radio Silence hit the horror community with their first fright feature, DEVIL’S DUE, back in January. By combining a found footage aesthetic with the story of the expecting parents of the anti-christ, DEVIL’S DUE offered a unique blend of paranoid chills and supernatural thrills. But now, in anticipation of the film’s release on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow, FANGORIA presents an exclusive deleted scene from DEVIL’S DUE!
Check out the video below and read on for our chat with Radio Silence about the scene and what else didn’t make the final cut of DEVIL’S DUE. However, be warned that the interview does tread lightly into spoiler territory…
FANGORIA: What spurred on the change from this alternate take to the version that’s ultimately in the film?
JUSTIN MARTINEZ: Well, we needed to get across more of the mythology behind our bad guys, so we needed that scene to deliver more information.
TYLER GILLETT: Also, after we viewed the initial scene with Father Thomas in his office, we thought it’d be better to have a version of the scene that ramps up the tension a little more. At that point, Father Thomas is the only character besides Sam and Zach who has experienced anything really strange, so we thought we’d play with the scene a little more and put Father Thomas in a heightened state. This change also helped us push through the story to the end since everything is escalating. To have Father Thomas in the hospital is a better reflection of that.
FANG: This version of the scene puts a little more ambiguity as to Father Thomas’s role in the grand scheme of things. By placing the character in the hospital, were you looking to clarify Father Thomas as a victim rather than a co-conspirator?
MATT BETTINELLI-OLPIN: Sure, that scene definitely serves that purpose as well, but one of the biggest challenges of the story was giving the Zach character the adequate support throughout the film. If he knows too much, then you lose the tension from his investigation and what we, as an audience, are learning with him. So if we gave Father Thomas a similar sense of paranoia made it seem that not only was he not involved with the cult but that we’d also get a clearer sense of what Zach was going through and where he might end up. So by putting Father Thomas in the hospital, we drew a parallel between Zach and Father Thomas and added some gravity to the situation.
FANG: Of course, the hospital also makes sense considering how the previous scene that included Father Thomas ended…
BETTINELLI-OLPIN: Yes, exactly. It made sense with the previous scenes and left you in a better place at the end of the movie.
FANG: In working with a character actor like Sam Anderson, did you change the direction you gave him between the office version and the hospital version?
GILLETT: I think it was clearer for Sam during the hospital scene what the character had been through, as opposed to the office scene. Before we yelled “action” on that scene, we knew that he’d been through some serious shit and he knows something, so why would he be so cavalier? Besides, Sam is such a playful actor that we did versions of that scene in his office that were very close to what was in the hospital sequence, so every take was usable for various reasons and it was tough to select which one to select.
FANG: Many times in genre films, the priest ,or any mature, informed character for that matter, ends up becoming a helpful presence or a saving grace for the characters. Was that ever discussed or included in the original script?
GILLETT: That was discussed a little bit, but the problem that we always wound back at was, “Shit, how do we do any of this in found footage?” Besides giving us information, found footage limited what we could do with Father Thomas. We had those versions of the story, but they always felt kind of fake.
BETTINELLI-OLPIN: And it never felt justifiable in the style that we were making DEVIL’S DUE. We’ve seen countless exorcism and possession movies where the priest ends up playing a significant role. But when you see the whole movie through Zach’s point-of-view, interjecting a character in the story who would take the focus off of Zach just as he’s starting to become proactive would not only be hard to do in found footage, but it would have hurt Zach’s story a little bit. But there were many conversations we had about how we could use Father Thomas in the film. Is there a better way to conclude the movie using Father Thomas as a tool of that?
GILLETT: In the original draft of the script, the scene in the office didn’t happen with Father Thomas, but rather a university professor. But we didn’t need to know that character because it’s found footage and we wanted to make something a little more cohesive to what we’ve already established. So, in a weird way, we introduced Father Thomas into more informational scenes.
FANG: With the film releasing on DVD/Blu-ray tomorrow, is there anything in terms of deleted material that was a major departure from the film that was released?
GILLETT: We had a whole sequence between Zach in the cult house and finding his wife giving birth that we had to cut, because it slowed down the action way too much. But it’s a fun scene that basically takes place in a hospital and we enjoyed making it.
CHAD VILLELLA: I think the run time on that scene was about 11 minutes long. That should tell you how much it slowed things down at that point and why it made sense to lift it from the film so we could get to the good stuff quicker.
FANG: There were some scenes, like in the birthing class, that seemed a little toned down in terms of what Samantha was unwillingly doing with her powers. Did you intentionally lessen the bleaker or unsettling elements of the film, especially since you’re working in the confines of a “found footage” reality?
BETTINELLI-OLPIN: Yeah. We had to ride the line pretty carefully. Originally, that scene was conceived as a room full of women having miscarriages. To us, it felt like too much of a leap into evil territory all of the sudden and that’s not just something that you walk away from.
VILLELLA: I also feel like we didn’t want those kinds of scenes because the reality we were working in was so delicate that if it’s broken, you really don’t have time to repair it unless you’re sending the movie off into a different direction. Towing the line was always the right choice for DEVIL’S DUE, since we could build up the tension until that last scene, which would be the big release of it all.
GILLETT: That’s also why the biggest scene before the climax was the scene in the woods, which almost plays like a vignette that occurs away from the Zach character. It happens so close to the end of the movie that it’s conceivably not connected to anything that would happen in either Zach or Sam’s story. I mean, you might get away with murder for a day or two, right [laughs]?
BETTINELLI-OLPIN: Actually, our initial cut of the film ended really dark, in that the last scene with Sam and Zach plays out and the film just stops there. We were actually really excited about that in the sense of, “Oh, shit. The studio is going to let us make a movie that ends like that?”
MARTINEZ: Yeah, and Zach’s fate was left open but he was in even worse shape.
BETTINELLI-OLPIN: It was super bleak and I couldn’t believe we were going to get away with that. But after our second test screening, it didn’t feel bleak, but it just felt unsatisfying. It was just like, “Oh, that fucking sucks.”
GILLETT: So we went back and shot the new ending, and what we did was go from what was, up until that point, a very intimate story to this bigger thing.
FANG: I could see that. I remember thinking that last scene was a little out of place considering how bleak the scene before it was.
BETTINELLI-OLPIN: Yeah. We agree [laughs].
MARTINEZ: Actually, one of the things we heard from a lot of people after the movie came out that was really interesting was that the ending didn’t work with the found footage type of thing.
GILLETT: It was kind of a Catch-22. If we’re loyal to the style and the idea that the lead character is controlling how we see the story, the movie has to end abruptly. But if you want to give audiences a more standard, conventional ending, you have to fudge with the found footage rules a little bit.
VILLELLA: But we kind of fudged with the rules from minute one.
GILLETT: Yeah, we wanted to make something more along the lines of CHRONICLE where it’s told through cameras that exist in the world of the characters. We weren’t going for that the footage was found and assembled by someone. It all comes down to what people are willing to accept individually as a viewer towards the found footage style.
FANG: Now that DEVIL’S DUE is out there, what else do you guys have on your plate?
VILLELLA: We’ve been working on a pilot presentation for Comedy Central, trying to get to our roots and away from the found footage thing. We’re putting together an action-adventure-comedy-type show that we’re editing right now and we’ll know if they pick it up within a couple of months. It’ll be a great way to expand our brand a little bit and the show could be a lot of fun because we could jump from genre to genre. As for films, we’re working on coming up with some original ideas to bring over to the awesome people at FOX or to do independently.
DEVIL’S DUE will be available on DVD/Blu-ray tomorrow, April 29th, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.