John Fallon talks atmospheric crowdfunder, “THE SHELTER”
In the rapidly changing world of independent horror, it’s not uncommon for fans to see crowdfunding campaigns from uncompromising directors looking to make their passion project. Whether or not these projects have anything new to offer the genre crowd outside of the atypical blood and guts remains to be seen, but if there’s one thing that’s to be known, it’s that those who know horror know what they want from their projects and are willing to pay out of pocket to see it happen. However, amongst these projects is one from one of horror’s most prolific fans and critics, John Fallon (a/k/a “Arrow” from Arrowinthehead.com), who is looking to crowdfund a new horror project unlike anything you’ve seen before.
The film is called THE SHELTER, a psychological horror show that taps into fears of the mind, body and soul through a visually significant eye. The narrative follows a man whose life has gone to ruin, only to find himself at the mercy of what appeared to be a safe haven and turned out to be something far more malevolent. However, Fallon refuses to bind the film to a singular genre, pledging that this film will stand out amongst the other independent horror entries.
“THE SHELTER is a bit of a genre bender in the sense that it’s a horror film, a mystery, a character study, a mindf*ck, a spiritual journey and much more, all at the same time. It has a lot of layers to it, and if I go by the folks that have read the screenplay thus far, most get something different out of it, which was my intent,” proclaims Fallon. “Although THE SHELTER sports familiar elements, such as a creepy house, unexplained happenings etc., it goes much further than that thematically and has a fairly unpredictable chain of events. To give you an idea: one of our key locations is a frozen lake, draped in snow. So it’s much more than a dude trapped in a spooked house movie.”
Indeed, THE SHELTER is a project that wears many masks, providing a horror story that will leave audiences in unpredictable dread. But for someone so in tuned with the horror community, one must wonder why Fallon has chosen this particular project as his debut. According to the director himself, it’s simple.
“It’s so damn personal,” states Fallon. “I’ve written films in the past that, at one point, I was slated to direct. For one reason or another, somebody else wound up directing them and that was okay. THE SHELTER on the other hand; nobody can direct it but me. The themes in the story are very close to my heart and I have a very specific way as to how I want to approach the material aesthetically.”
For this personal journey, Fallon had to seek out a genre stalwart to bring the weight his eerie vision demanded, and ended up casting none other than Michael Pare for the lead in his terrifying tale. Pare, no stranger to dark material, may be venturing into a new realm of fright film with THE SHELTER, but Fallon holds no doubts to the actor’s ability to adapt and excel.
“The lead character of Thomas, which Pare will play, is pretty much in every frame of the picture. So I needed an actor with the charisma and gravitas to be able to keep the viewers riveted to him,” claims Fallon. “In my opinion, Mike has that ‘special something’ that makes you want to look at him onscreen. I actually watched ROAD TO HELL after I cast him and it confirmed that I had made the right choice. He can communicate so much via one movement or a look. He’s an ace at playing to the camera and THE SHELTER needs that as, for the most part, dialogue is minimal.”
“Moreover, the role is fairly complex, with varied emotional beats to hit and I wanted an actor with the experience to nail them hard,” continues Fallon. “In my opinion, this will be the darkest role Pare ever tackled. I’ve also known Mike for six years or so now. We got to know each other when we worked on Eric Red’s 100 FEET together and have kept in touch since. He’s the kind of guy you want on set: grounded, focused and knowledgeable. As a first time director, having him on my side is a big asset.”
But what exactly will be behind the horror within THE SHELTER? Being careful as not to reveal too much, Fallon addresses his eclectic inspirations and a slight indication of where the scares may spawn from.
“It leans more towards supernatural horror, but there is some human dreadfulness in the story as well,” claims Fallon. “As for the films that I watched for inspiration: THE SHINING, ROSEMARY’S BABY, REPULSION, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, LOST HIGHWAY and THE TREE OF LIFE. A lot of our most respected mainstream filmmakers started off in horror: Oliver Stone, Peter Jackson, Kathryn Bigelow and the list goes on! There’s a reason for that: it’s an ideal genre to flex your cinematic muscles in and express yourself in ways that are outside the norm. You can bend or break the rules, push the envelope and run wild creatively, which I definitely do in THE SHELTER.”
For THE SHELTER, Fallon turned to Indiegogo to raise funding for his effects budget and more, aiming to put as much talent behind his film as possible. Of course, Fallon looked back at the groundbreaking successes of other independent horror classics as inspiration, but knows that in today’s production climate, there’s one factor that’s more vital than ever: the fans.
“You can make a solid horror film with little money. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE EVIL DEAD and HALLOWEEN were all low budget movies, and in this day and age of technology, you can do much more for less. Hence crowd-funding is an ideal tool for indie horror filmmakers who have bold and unique projects that need financing. In the old days you had one guy, “Mr. Studio”, with a big bag of dough saying yay or nay to financing your project. Today, via crowd-funding, you have a bunch of little guys with their wallets saying yay or nay to your project. So horror fans can invest in what they want to see!
“Sadly with Hollywood getting in there more and more, my gut tells me the little guy will eventually get the shaft once again,” Fallon laments. “An unknown or a semi-known filmmaker can’t compete with the Stallones or Spike Lees of the world. But we’ll see. In terms of THE SHELTER’s distribution, my plan is: Festival run first, then I take it from there. To be honest getting the film off the ground is the only thing on my mind at the moment.
But now that THE SHELTER is becoming a clearer vision of viscera, what can horror fans expect to not see come from this project? And what lays beyond THE SHELTER for Fallon?
“THE SHELTERis not a gore party. It leans more towards atmospherics and is axed on tension and mystery,” explains Fallon. “We do have appalling scenarios, sex and nudity though. Funnily enough, I’m known out there as a meat (gore) and potatoes (TNA) guy. Therefore most of the people that read the script were surprised that I went the character driven and moody way. I heard this a lot: ‘I didn’t expect this from you!’ But it’s the story that wanted and needed to be told. On that, I have a great idea for a slasher, so tits and blood may be in my future too!”