Written by Charlotte Stear
Published on Saturday, 14 January 2012 07:39
Undoubtedly one of the most talked about horror films of 2011 had to be Lucky McKee’s The Woman. It gained enormous amounts of coverage after some rather controversial reactions, particularly at the Sundance Film Festival where a man loudly proclaimed the film should not have been made at the end of the screening. People were practically running out of the theatre, which ultimately made horror fans want to run into one on its general release. With the DVD and Blu-ray set to hit the shelves in the US this month, we got the opportunity to talk to Lucky about The Woman and all things horror.
Charlotte Stear: I saw the film a few months after it had been shown at the film festivals, so I had heard a lot about it before getting to watch it. How did you feel after that initial reaction at Sundance?
Lucky McKee: It was pretty upsetting at the time. I wasn’t what you’d call totally surprised, I knew the movie would push people’s buttons, that guy just pumped a gasket. In retrospect though now, it has been fantastic promotion for the film, I’m sorry I upset the guy but I don’t think he knew what type of film he was sitting down to watch.
|CS: Did that reaction worry you at all?
LM: I didn’t stress about it too much there were way more people who were feeling it for what it was and who were getting it than those that reacted like that guy.
CS: Have you found that the film gets different reactions from men and women?
LM: I think in general terms men and women just react differently, none of them in negative ways but I find that women seem to pick up on things a lot quicker. They know that the dad is a rotten apple from the instant they see the way that he talks to his wife. For the guys, it seems to take a little bit longer. Women are a little bit more intuitive about what’s going on…in general.
CS: How did you become involved in the project?
LM: Andrew van den Houten invited me to New York to check out Offspring and to talk about ideas on how to continue the story with him and Jack Ketchum, and they both liked it. They wanted to take it in a completely, 180 degree, different direction from the first film. I still wanted it to star Polly [McIntosh] as I was really impressed with the performance and character she created in that, and then it was just working with Ketchum from book to screen.
CS: What was it like working with Jack Ketchum?
LM: It was amazing, just amazing. I found it a real honour and it was just a great process as we’re like-minded individuals, so it went really well.
CS: You’ve worked with Angela Bettis a number of times now, how did you two meet and when did you start working together?
LM: She was one of the hundred or so girls that was auditioning for my first movie, May. She has a great sensibility and is one of the most gifted actors I have ever had the pleasure of working with and I use her again and again because I know that she never disappoints, she has a real gift.
CS: I loved the whole family that you cast in the movie. What made it particularly creepy was how they all looked like a real family, especially the mother and daughter who really had the same eyes. How was the casting process to get the family?
LM:It was unusual, normally you have all sorts of auditions and stuff like that but I had the character for Angela, we’d been friends for years and she suggested Sean Bridgers for the dad who had a really good approach to it, he really understood it. Peggy we found from a musical, a real teeny bopper picture that Andrew [van den Houten] had produced and we thought, “Oh she could really play it.” She has that cute, doll-like look to her and like you say, it’s in the eyes. She’s a real firecracker too, we got a real kick out of that and thought she could do a really good job. Then the little four year old kid we actually found at a horror convention through some mutual friends and we were like, “Hey does your kid want to act?!” and then a few months later she ended up in the film. The only part we auditioned for was Brian the 12 year old boy, we found Zach through auditions in New York. We were going through tapes and not really getting anywhere and then lo and behold, the last audition tape was Zach’s. As soon as we saw him we thought he was perfect, he’s like something out of a Kubrick movie.
CS: How was it working with such a young cast with a particularly dark film?
LM: Well, it comes through technique really. Shooting in a way where I can get the story I want with editing and then it’s just making sure everything with the parents was OK, also knowing the kids were mature enough to handle it, which they were. They’re really, really gifted kids and this was Zach’s first film, he had been working on Broadway for years. But yeah, it’s all about being very careful about what you put the kids around, having good communication with their parents and doing things in such a way that you can look yourself in the mirror when you get up in a morning!
CS: I felt like I was having a heart attack on each viewing of this film, how did you want people to feel at the end of the movie?
LM: People have told me that they were clenching their jaw, and all sorts of things! But yeah, I wanted them to feel exactly how you just said, it’s very intense and uncomfortable. Things like the way of Sean’s acting, like it’s so casual with everything that he’s doing, it’s ridiculous how calm this guy is and I think that’s what affects people, it’s the casual nature in which he doles it all out.
CS: The soundtrack is very unusual, how did that come about?
LM: A lot of filmmakers out there are using more “mood” music which just follows along with the picture, but I actually wanted something to change things up a bit and use a raw sound with guitar and drums and so decided to go the route I did. All of the songs were written while we shot the movie, the songwriter (Sean Spillane) came out and just started making music and gave me a cd for the set. He did a few songs and a demo that made me want to use him. It was an organic process which really holds up well in the woods in the mid-West. It was really cool and I think, because he was around the filming, he was getting a vibe of the set and watching the film come together and all that just inspired his song writing. He probably wrote 25-30 songs and about twelve of them we used in the film. I’m really happy with the soundtrack and we actually put it on vinyl too, which is really cool!
CS: The majority of your films have a female protagonist, why do you often take this angle?
LM: It just kinda happened really, when I went to film school the leads were always female centric and as I started writing I worked with a lot of actresses for some reason. I guess it’s because of how I grew up, my dad was working so much it was mainly just me, my mum and sister. I know a lot of good women and I just love the way a woman will just dig into something, just like Angela and Pollyanna. I’ve dealt with more divas that were men than I have women!
CS: How did you first get into horror?
LM: Through watching movies with my sister and other girl cousins when we were little kids mainly. It was on my sister's birthday one year, when we were really young, and my cousins said we should get a bunch of horror movies, so we watched Carrie for the first time, The Hitcher and a Psycho sequel, I think it was actually Psycho 3. It was just so brutal watching those things in the dark in this house in the middle of the night, we were afraid to go down the hall all that kind of stuff which is really fun. I was really struck by creepy things like the Wicked Witch and the Monkeys in Return to Oz, I’d watch it every year when it was on, it just really made an impression in middle school. I got more into horror films after my parents got divorced, I started watching A Nightmare on Elm Street, I loved the whole Freddie series, made some friends who were into the same stuff and it just kind of happened over the years.
CS: What horror films are impressing you at the moment?
LM: There are lots of good guys out there, Stakeland was really good and there’s this little movie from the UK called Harold’s Going Stiff, it’s like the only zombie movie to make me cry, it’s so sweet it had me in tears, it’s a little treat!
CS: When is the release for The Woman in the US?
LM: It comes out on the 24th January, and it has a making of documentary, the little Mexican cartoon my editor made, a music track from the soundtrack and some deleted scenes. I’m really happy with how it’s all turned out.
CS: Have you got any future projects you’re working on right now?
LM: Naw I’m never going to make any more movies…! No, I’m just getting into my cave and writing new stuff that I can’t really talk about, but hopefully there’ll be something new, they just have to figure themselves out right now.
CS: Thank you for taking the time to chat with HorrorTalk Lucky!
LM: No problem!
The Woman will be available in the USA on DVD and Blu ray on January 24th. Check out details of the release HERE and read the HorrorTalk review of the UK release HERE.
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