Fantasia ’13 exclusive: “THE WARD” writers talk “SUBCULTURE”
Having scripted John Carpenter’s most recent feature THE WARD and made their directorial debuts with this year’s release DARK FEED, brothers Michael and Shawn Rasmussen are getting into underground filmmaking—literally—with SUBCULTURE. They came to the Frontières market of Montreal’s Fantasia festival seeking backing for the movie, and gave Fango some details.
Described by Michael as “an urban version of THE DESCENT,” SUBCULTURE switches out caves for the tunnels and infrastructure beneath the streets of Manhattan. “The idea grew out of an awesome documentary we saw in the 1990s called DARK DAYS,” he tells Fango. “We were so intrigued by the subject matter, and thought, ‘What a great idea and setting for a horror film!’ Our story takes place in that world, with encampments underneath New York City full of homeless people. Some urban explorers venture down trying to find an abandoned rail station and stir up a nest of creatures that have long been dormant, and the homeless population has to do battle with them; they’re kind of the last line of defense before these monsters get to the surface.”
That story gambit makes SUBCULTURE a departure from typical subterranean horror features, in which the destitute characters either mutate into deformed villains or serve only as victims. “The idea we think is interesting,” Shawn says, “is that these people who have been forgotten by society are now in the position of trying to prevent this threat from entering the city.” “To save the world that has banished them, basically,” Michael adds. “We liked making these flawed individuals—people who are struggling with addiction and have had some bad luck—into the heroes. It’s not about teenagers who have no real life experience; these people have really suffered, and we thought it would be great to be able to cast some grizzled character actors in these parts.”
“We’ve been saying it would be so cool to have, like, Larry Fessenden, you know what I mean?” Shawn says. “We’d love to get some of these actors we love so much, and have been so strong in the indie world, to come and be in this.”
Although the SUBCULTURE scenario is currently situated in the Big Apple, the Rasmussens note it could be relocated to any major urban setting, depending on where the financing comes from. “Since [Frontières] is very focused on international co-production,” Shawn says, “we’re certainly open to any city that has underground transportation structures. What’s cool about DARK DAYS and this idea is, when you’re living in a city and even taking the subway all the time, you don’t truly realize how many levels of infrastructure are underneath the streets, and there are people and other things living down in those lower layers. It’s kind of like, all those scary things in your closet or under your bed or whatever? These are even worse! They’re right underneath the city you live in and inhabit every day, and that’s a fun element.”