The actors’ nightmare: Exclusive photos and comments on “SHE RISES”
Director Larry Wade Carrell of JACOB, actors/producers Michael Biehn and Jennifer Blanc and the rest of the team behind movies like THE VICTIM and the upcoming HIDDEN IN THE WOODS recently wrapped their latest horror feature, SHE RISES. Carrell gave Fango the in-depth lowdown on the project and passed on some exclusive pics.
Directed by Carrell, whom we caught up with at the recent Macabre Faire Film Festival in Long Island, from a script by actor Angus Macfadyen, SHE RISES is set at a bed and breakfast where an egotistical Hollywood couple, Connor (Macfadyen, pictured above) and Kat (Blanc, 1st photo below with Macfadyen and 2nd photo) are filming their latest project. Things get weird and scary when Rosebud (Daisy McCrackin, 3nd and 4th photos), the young woman who runs the place, turns their lives into a nightmare; Carrell co-stars as a hitchhiker, with Biehn as a character called Daddy Longlegs (5th photo). The story concept was first developed by producer Lony Ruhmann and screenwriters Bradley and Kevin Marcus, with whom Blanc has collaborated on a few recent projects, before Carrell got involved.
“Various people had been involved with it when Jennifer came to me and asked me to direct it,” Carrell tells us. “I did a pass on the script with Michael, and we thought we had something pretty interesting. Then Angus got involved and rewrote it, and he just elevated the whole project and turned it into something way beyond just a simple horror film. It’s a true descent into madness and the mind of this actor that’s so surreal.”
Macfadyen, who first broke out in BRAVEHEART and has since appeared in SAW III and IV among many other films, further impressed Carrell once he got in front of the camera. “Our first day of shooting, Angus had his first monologue—this eight-page speech, literally, where he comes in and really establishes who his character is and what he’s about. And he just nailed this thing in one take, and even improv’d some stuff that wasn’t in the script, and I was literally moved to tears by his performance. As soon as it was acceptable to cut, I leaped up out of my chair, ran onto set and told him how amazing that was. I was like, ‘Oh, so you want to make a movie?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah!’ He just elevated the project and, in turn, everybody in the film: Daisy McCrackin gave an outstanding performance, and so did Jennifer, and Michael is always incredible. He’s very creepy as Daddy Longlegs.”
Macfadyen’s turn incorporates a number of homages to great performances of the past, as Carrell explains: “He flows through these flawless impersonations of Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro, Peter Sellers in LOLITA—as we get into the nightmare of his character, he relives these famous scenes from classic Hollywood movies in his mind. So we recreated scenes from PSYCHO and THE SHINING, and even worked in things like a twisted version of the nunnery scene from HAMLET. We pay homage to those classics, but in a way that moves our story forward. Angus really tailored the script and came up with this character no one else could have played, and SHE RISES became something far beyond what I thought it was going to be when I went out to Hollywood to shoot it.”
SHE RISES is Carrell’s second feature-length directorial venture after JACOB, which he shot in his home state of Texas and for which he had to do a lot of persuading to get Biehn and Blanc involved. So there was a sense of vindication when Blanc sought him out with the offer to direct this project. “It’s a good feeling,” he says. “It was kind of surreal; I was in a Halloween superstore with my daughter, walking around looking at the masks, and my phone rang and it was Jennifer saying, ‘I have an opportunity for you, but you need to decide quickly because it’s coming up really fast.’ And before she even told me what it was, I said, ‘I’m in.’ We’re like family now.”
That sense of familiarity helped, given that SHE RISES was lensed in just six days. “We moved really, really fast,” Carrell recalls, “and if you’d told me before that you could shoot a film that fast, I would say you were insane. But I had the opportunity to work with Michael and Jennifer on HIDDEN IN THE WOODS, a full-on feature with William Forsythe, a big, complicated script, and they shot that in 15 days. When they told me they were doing that, I was like, ‘They’re insane, this is gonna be a total nightmare,’ but they came in prepared and everything went really smooth and I learned a lot.
“So when I had the opportunity to do SHE RISES, and I knew we were gonna shoot it in six days, I got very prepared. I wrote up an 18-page shot list—not even so much a shot list as an edit list—so I knew exactly what I needed. I went out early and checked out the sets and locations and looked for any potential problems, so when we got there, the cast was prepared and the crew was ready, and we just hit the ground running. Fortunately, we didn’t hit any big snags, and we finished on time every day, if not a little bit early.” SHE RISES is currently in postproduction, with a festival cut to be ready by April.