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SXSW ’16: Director talks “HUSH” as a “dry run” for “GERALD’S GAME” & what’s up with “BEFORE I WAKE”

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Mike Flanagan has been winning praise (including ours) for his new chiller HUSH, which just premiered at SXSW—and which shares some basic elements with a Stephen King project he’s been attached to for a while now. While discussing HUSH with Fango, the director gave us a few exclusive words on that, and a status report on his long-delayed feature BEFORE I WAKE.

Flanagan scripted HUSH (pictured above) with its star Kate Siegel, who plays a deaf-mute author stalked at her secluded home by a sadistic killer. A woman trapped in a remote house is also the premise of GERALD’S GAME, in which the heroine is left handcuffed to a bed after a kinky sex romp with her husband goes wrong, and which Flanagan—a longtime fan of King’s book—has been developing as a film since May 2014. “Kate and I are both huge fans of GERALD’S GAME, and I’ve been dying to get that movie on its feet for a long time,” the director tells us. “There are some fascinating similarities between HUSH and what I want to do with that film. It would contain some of the minimalism and claustrophobia of HUSH and take it even further, because the protagonist in GERALD’S GAME isn’t even free to move off of the bed. She doesn’t have the benefit of the rest of the house. So there are elements of HUSH that feel like a dry run for that.

“But regardless of what is or isn’t going to happen with GERALD’S GAME, because that movie seems very determined to be difficult to get off the ground, we also wanted HUSH to stand on its own,” Flanagan continues. “There’s always this impulse, after you’ve worked on a bigger movie—and I mean bigger just for me, not like a Marvel movie—but after BEFORE I WAKE, which was the most expensive movie I’d gotten to do, and was bit of a punishing postproduction experience—especially as the problems at Relativity mounted—there was this desire to go back to the bare-bones, lower-budget world, and do something that no one would have let us do otherwise. If we had tried to pitch HUSH as even a $5-million movie, I think we would have met with an incredible amount of resistance. So the opportunity to go off and make a small, fun, experimental little film that we could have complete creative control over was marvelous. And I hope to continue to do that between bigger projects for the rest of my career, if I’m lucky enough.”

The aforementioned bankruptcy issues at Relativity led the company to bump the release of BEFORE I WAKE more than once, most recently to April 8 (coincidentally, the day HUSH goes global via Netflix). Now, Flanagan reveals, the waiting game will continue even further. “The studio has not said anything official, but I don’t believe it’s coming out next month,” he says. “I don’t see how they could possibly pull that off at this point. They still haven’t emerged from bankruptcy, so it’s going to be pushed again. The studio says they are committed to opening it wide, and that it will come out in a proper release, but I have no idea when that will be. It’s a bummer, because I’m very proud of that movie.”

Relativity might want to move fast, though, to take advantage of the critical heat surrounding its young star Jacob Tremblay (playing a little boy whose bad dreams become real) from his role in the Oscar-winning ROOM. He did his WAKE role “right before he did ROOM,” Flanagan recalls, “and in fact, the movie still has a title card at the end that says, ‘And introducing Jacob Tremblay,’ which we really need to get out of there [laughs], or that could be very embarrassing! At the time, I felt like we had just stumbled upon this incredible discovery, this amazing talent, and by the time the movie comes out, he may be the most famous element in it.” See our review of HUSH here and look for more of our chat with Flanagan closer to its release.

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About the author
Michael Gingold

Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor. He now serves as editor-in-chief of the magazine while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews, as well as a contributing editor/writer for this website.

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