Laid to Rest: Interview with Writer/Director Robert Hall
By: Craig Villinger on September 16, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Share 
In a quiet small town morgue a young women wakes up inside a casket with no memory of who she is or how she got there.

Now that's bad, but things are about to get a whole lot worse!

Once freed from the casket the woman finds herself being stalked by ChromeSkull - a sadistic mask wearing maniac - and the night becomes a desperate fight for survival for both her and anyone whose path she happens to cross...

That's the basic premise of LAID TO REST, a new and visceral slasher movie starring Bobbi Sue Luther, Lena Headey, Kevin Gage, Thomas Dekker, and Johnathan Schaech and directed by makeup FX artist turned writer/director Robert Hall.

The movie was recently released on DVD in Australia through Anchor Bay, and Digital Retribution had the chance to chat with Hall, who unashamedly says his second feature is "over the top and gory as hell".

Digital Retribution: Laid to Rest was released in Australia last week, but the movie has been out for several months in the USA now. What has the reaction been like?

Robert Hall: The response has been overwhelmingly positive but Laid to Rest is definitely a project that has had a polarized response from the horror community here. Either people love it or they hate it. I set out to do something different in terms of the slasher subgenre of horror and there are those who got what I was trying to do and there are those who didn't get it. And that's okay because I know that as a horror fan, Laid to Rest is definitely a fun and gory slasher flick and I am really proud of what we did with it.

DR: Would you say you made Laid to Rest for general movie buffs, or for the dedicated horror fan?

RH: Laid to Rest is definitely something for the horror fans but what I think I did was make a movie that is also accessible for the casual viewer too. We tried to create a movie that was fun but not too complex and didn't try to bog anyone down with a huge mythology or anything like that.

DR: Clearly you have an affinity for the slasher greats. What are some of your favourites, and what movies inspired Laid to Rest?

RH: I would have to say almost all of them...but specifically, Myers, Voorhees, Krueger and Bateman to start off with. We even named all of our hard drives (that we put all of the LTR footage on while editing) different Slashers. We wound up with so many that we started opening it up beyond slashers, with drives named Chucky and Godzilla.

DR: Laid to Rest didn't seem to be trying to re-invent the slasher wheel, but at the same time there were subtle changes to the generic slasher formula. I mean, where were the teenagers? Were you aiming to make a movie that adhered to certain genre expectations while at the same time offering us something we haven't already seen a thousand times?

RH: Laid to Rest was born out of my love for the slasher flicks of the 80s. I wanted to pay homage to them without being slapstick about it. I've always loved the creative deaths from the original Friday the 13th movies, and I think a lot of the 'kills' these days are missing that spark. They're empty and boring to me. I love all horror, but I think things have recently gotten too elaborate with films so Laid to Rest was my way of bringing slasher movies back to a guy with a knife because that's what I want to see as a fan. Hopefully fans will enjoy seeing something that isn't a new concept but definitely a fresh take.

DR: I also enjoyed the fact that your lead character had amnesia. Was the eventual reveal of her true identity a way of making her the opposite of your typical (virginal) final girl?

RH: I don't know if it was deliberate to make her atypical from the usual final girl but what I wanted to do was show just how it was possible for her and ChromeSkull's paths to cross and at the same time, do something different in terms of the usual "damsel in distress" storyline you see with slasher flicks.

DR: And what's with casting Kevin Gage as a nice guy who protects the leading lady? Isn't he usually the one trying to torture and kill the heroine?

RH: I love Kevin and I definitely wanted to give him a chance to do something different while working on Laid to Rest. I think it's really cool to see him portraying a different kind of role.

DR: Laid to Rest didn't look like a big budget picture, but you managed to secure the services of a few well known names, including both Sarah and John Connor from Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker). Would it be fair to say your position in the film and television industry as a special effects makeup artist gave you an advantage when it came to casting the movie?

RH: I think the advantage I got was that I was able to have friends of mine be part of such a big project in my life. Everyone was really into the script and what I wanted to do with Laid to Rest, so I think being able to go to them with a quality project was the real advantage.

DR: Now that you've directed a couple of movies, do you see yourself working more as a director in future and less as an effects artist?

RH: I love doing special effects and directing films both. Effects work pays the bills, though, and puts me in a position where I can have the opportunity to make movies. But making movies is my creative fuel since it's where I can do my own thing.

DR: What's more fun to shoot: scenes where people sit at a computer and talk, or scenes where people get their faces sliced off?

RH: As someone who grew up loving horror movies and effects, obviously it's far more fun to shoot scenes where people get their faces sliced off than just someone sitting around at a computer. The computer shot might be easy but the gore is just way too much fun to not want to shoot.

DR: Speaking of gore, Laid to Rest certainly featured more "old fashioned" gore than many flicks we see in the modern era. What are you thoughts on a lot of the CG blood and gore we're seeing in movies today?

RH: I am a big believer that if you can do an effect practically, then you should do it that way. I think film or even television only can benefit when something looks more authentic. Fans pick up on that kind of stuff too. I think because so many movies have started to rely on CG more and more now, there is a bit of a backlash to overusing it. However, that being said, there are times when you have to use CG because either there's no way to get the shot done practically or the budget won't allow for it. So, when I have to use CG, I just make sure has the best possible look wherever we need to rely on it. When you use CG and it's bad, it can take you right out of a story and I never want to do that to an audience.

DR: Do you feel your background as a special effects artist creates a greater expectation from fans for you to deliver a movie that it loaded with gory kills?

RH: I don't necessarily know if the fans expected the gory kills but I definitely knew that I had to deliver them just because that's what I'd want to see if I was watching a slasher flick. We have some really crazy fun kills and I hope people love them because we made sure they were fun and over the top and gory as hell.

DR: ChromeSkull is a fierce looking character, but like many great masked slashers we don't know much about him, save for the fact that he appears to love killing. Can you shed any more light on his mysterious background for us?

RH: His backstory is written (and hinted at) in Laid to Rest but I purposefully don't hit you over the head with what his story is or what his motivation is. People seem to respond to keeping it simple and I figured that was the best way to do it for the first movie. We also wanted to leave it open to explore more about his story later on.

DR: That brings us to the final question: will we be seeing more of ChromeSkull in future?

RH: Yes, there will be more ChromeSkull mayhem coming soon. We are working on getting things underway to start on Laid to Rest 2 and 3. We are hoping to shoot them back to back too. One will be a prequel and one will be a sequel. And we of course are planning on answering just how it is that ChromeSkull could survive the first movie.

Laid to Rest is available to rent locally on DVD through Anchor Bay and will be available to buy from January 13, 2010.

Official site - www.laidtorestmovie.com

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