Wikipedia, "11-11-11 is a date which reoccurs every 100 years (every
400 years for it to fall on a Friday), when written in a 2-digit
year style. For various and often not well understood reasons,
people often ascribe different kinds of significance to dates and
numbers; for example the 2011 '11-11-11' showed an increase number
of marriages taking place in different areas throughout the world,
including the U.S. and across the Asian continent. Babies born on
this date also received special media attention."
It is also the
title of a supernatural thriller created and directed by Darren Lynn
Bousman. The 33 year old director established his genre creds
and then went even further creating his horror sci-fi musical,
Repo! The Genetic Opera.
explore these genres he's done a re-make of
Mother's Day and now
– an apocalyptic tale of a non-believing writer confronted
by what appears to be the Messiah – or the Antichrist.
When did you realize that you wanted to make strange horror films
The fear of
actually getting a real job did it to me. I don't think I have the
mentality or wherewithal to do a 9-5 job. So I tried everything in
my power to find something that I could do to not have to deal with
that, something fun that allowed me to escape the real world. When
the fear of having to go into the workforce hit me, I tried really,
really hard to get to film school and luckily it worked out for me.
What a way to stay out of the conventional workforce – make a film
If you do such movies bosses will be afraid to hire you. This one's
a little safer. You almost convince people that you believe in
This is very
much a different kind of film. I'm trying to not be pigeonholed into
doing one type of film. I'm trying to experiment with a bunch of
other stuff. I did Saw,
which is very heavily into torture, violence, that kind of thing.
Then going on from something like
which is music-based to
which is very much a crime thriller. I wanted to do something that
didn't rely on violence or shock value, and on top of that, do
something that was more audience-friendly in a PG-13 kind of way.
I've always been fascinated with religion, with people's beliefs, so
it was a natural progression for me to make something like this
where I can delve into the beliefs that people have.
When you speak about beliefs is it that you have them or that you
want to shake us up about ours?
A little bit
of both. I don't know. I flip flop every day on what my real beliefs
are. It goes from believing absolutely nothing to absolutely
believing in everything. So I think that changes daily and I think
that anyone that claims to have an answer or know the answer are
hypocrites and lying because no one knows the answer. When it's
called belief you have to believe in something, you have faith. The
only faith that I adhere to 100% is I faithfully believe I don't
know everything. This is me working out my own demons in the script.
Then they actually decided to make the script and turn it into a
film, and when I wrote the script it was me voicing my opinions and
Have your beliefs changed? Are you going to become a priest?
They have, and
I'll tell you how. There's a behind-the-scenes on the disc, a making
and when I went to
I didn't really believe in anything. I grew up Christian but nothing
that I could walk around and say I was a bible thumper or a holy
roller or anything like that. But going into this house, the house
had a horrible, negative energy in it, and there's no way to
describe it outside of saying it was evil. The house felt evil. None
of the crew members wanted to shoot there. I don't speak
so I had a hard time understanding what was going on at the time,
but a lot of crew members started quitting and there was something
about this house. I demanded to find information about the house.
They researched it and helped me uncover that the house actually had
been used for cult séances and rituals, and there were all sorts of
weird, cult-like symbols all over the house. The further we traced
it back the more horrible things we found out took place in this
house. This is not an exaggeration; I'm not joking about this. This
is not a ploy for publicity for the movie; it was real. Through the
course of filming there was a presence, there were no aberrations I
saw, I didn't see ghosts, I didn't see anything, but there was a
presence of a weight on your chest, something that drew you down and
made you anxious at all times. Knowing what people will do in the
name of their belief system, whether they murder, kill, sacrifice,
whatever, is a crazy thing for me to realize. But more importantly
than that, being in the middle of this horrible feeling, realizing
that the energy that was very much real, and again, unless you were
there you can't really describe it, but it was very, very real, it
made me question things, to see things differently instead of just
writing it off and saying it's a joke. I was there and saw it, felt
it, and it opened my eyes to a lot of things I've got to say.
Did you look at the predecessors to this film like
and some of the others?
edit was much longer, drawn out, very much more
Baby, in a way. When you watch
Rosemary's Baby, it
is very slow and deliberate. You might stay on a lingering shot as
we're walking down the hallway for 30 seconds. The problem is when I
turn that version of the movie in you're in a different marketplace
now than you were in the '70s when those types of movies were
prevalent. You have much more immediate gratification. It’s all now,
now, now [these days]. So the movie was trimmed down considerably to
make it more accessible to the masses. But my favorite time of
filmmaking came out of the '70s. My favorite style of film was the
slow burning films and musicals. In the '70s you had things such as
or The Sentinel.
My other favorite type of film was [the rock musical] like
Jesus Christ Superstar and
Picture Show. So you had the gamut in the '70s
of these out-of-the-box experimental films that were appealing to
mass audiences at the time.
When you said
I was also thinking about one of that film's director Ken Russell's
other great films,
I was lucky
enough to meet
and do a Q&A and introduce
last year. But the night before I saw
he'd come into town to do the screening I actually got to have
dinner with the guy, which was kind of an amazing experience. First
off, the guy is a legend; doing Tommy and then going to do [The
Devils]. But he was the most awesome, awkward,
hilarious, wrong dude I've ever met. His question and answer at
The Devils made me
more uncomfortable than I think anything I've done. An example,
someone who raised their hand would ask a question and he would just
shake his head and say, “That’s a dumb question. I'm not answering
it.” And it would just be silent in the room for like 30 seconds. It
was pretty epic.
Were there similarities between you and The Joe Crone character
because you're a writer too and do find yourself in isolation when
The answer is
100% yes. First off that absolutely was me making the movie. I had
basically moved to Barcelona to make this film and didn't speak the
language and wasn't familiar with the culture. As I came to
Barcelona I found myself alone and that changed the script a bit.
You see a lot of me in him in the things he says and does. We cast
the movie in
and everyone brought in had an EU passport. I had met with at least
30 to 40 different people for that role and couldn't find anyone.
There was no one that wowed us. Then
Gibbs comes in – he used to be a soap opera star in
America. And he experienced a tragedy in his own life. He gave up
acting and moved to Barcelona, and what's crazy about the character
Crone, is that it’s a character that experiences a
tragedy and ends up moving to Barcelona. So not only was that
character based on me, but on Timothy Gibbs as well. After suffering
a tragedy he dropped out of acting and moved to Barcelona in real
life. It's weird the way that character came about.
Funny you picked Spain, because there's been a trend of Spanish
horror films. Have you been paying attention to that? Recently
The Intruders came out which is directed by a Spanish director.
been a fan of foreign cinema, and it's such a completely different
feel over there. If I shot the movie in America it would be a much,
much different film. But when you watch
of whether you hate or love it or are indifferent, it has that
European film look to it. Not only from the sets, but the way the
movie was actually put together and made. It was exciting to be able
to shoot over there because I've never shot outside of North
America. I've shot all my films in
and to be able to go over to [Europe]
– there was a barrier. I didn't speak the language; I had to talk
through translators a lot of the time to get everything that we were
trying to get. So it was a unique experience.
Does Kansas have a place in your heart for horror? Isn't that where
Yes, my love
of horror started in
October in Kansas... October's my favorite month in general, but
specifically in Kansas they deck the entire downtown area out in
haunted houses. Since leaving Kansas I’ve never seen anything like
it. Not like houses that cost $20 to make. These haunted houses they
spend six, seven months getting ready to be up for one month. It was
a huge thing that I did every single year with my father. We'd line
up, wait two hours to get in to a haunted house that last 45
minutes. It started there, but originally the script took place in a
Kansas. If you're not familiar with Stull, I recommend looking it
up. I love urban legends, conspiracy theories and all of that, and
supposedly, in Stull, Kansas, there’s one of the gateways to hell
You should direct an episode of
funny; if you go to my house and look at my bookshelf it's 90% books
on serial killers and forensic evidence and things like that. I love
stuff like that.
There’s always 666; why
It's a real
phenomenon that I didn't know about before this movie but if you
Google it there is a huge, huge, huge, huge, huge cult that believes
in the importance of the number 11 as a celestial number. The real
saying comes from a book called The Urantia Book.
Oh I know
The Urantia Book.
fascinating idea. It's this book that was basically no known
authors, it was supposedly written by celestial beings. In it there
is a thing that talks about the 1,111 Midwayers. They're basically
angels that are on our plane to bring us to a higher level of
awareness. Looking through this book, it became a fascinating idea
because you realize how many people actually believe in The
Urantia Book. That’s how that whole thing came together. But
there are entire groups and sects of religion that believe 11-11-11
is a holy day.
There is a quote in the film that Joseph Crone says – "I found it
much easier to believe in the devil than a god" – because he lost
his family. So if someone lost a family member or friend would it be
more likely to believe in the devil than God?
We deal with
tragedy, sorrow, pain and suffering, and deal with not being able to
pay our mortgage, or getting our car scratched and not having the
insurance to fix it. We deal with the small indignities to
gargantuan things. How much happiness do we really have is our
entire lives? It's easier to believe in something that's nefarious
or bad than to believe there's someone out there that's watching
over and protecting us. That's what that statement was about, that
if there was a God up there you would think there would be more
happiness and world peace and dogs would be loving cats and cats
loving dogs and there'd be no issues in the world, but there's not.
There's disease, famine, rapes, murders, and with that rationale in
mind that’s where that statement came from. It's easier to believe
in something bad than that there’s something wholly good out there.
I was looking at some of the user reviews. You got slagged and I'm
wondering are today's horror fans not able to deal with the kind of
great horror that we love with the sense of dread that works with
Japanese horror films, and earlier on, with Roman Polanski’s movies.
This film shows another way to approach the subject.
I was raked
across the coals on 11-11-11
for numerous reasons. The movie's not for everyone, I get it. I
think that it started off with a terrible trailer that was released
for the movie that immediately set expectations way over what this
movie was going to be. I don't know if you guys ever saw the first
trailer, but the first trailer of the film, it was a very cheesy
voiceover, it kept saying, "You are fucked." It would show demons
and "From the director of Saw
and 4,” and
people screaming and all this other shit. I know what the movie is;
the movie is a very, very slow burn, very, very slow burn,
methodical, religious film.
It's all about psychology.
you're a teenager and you come in to watch the movie expecting to be
being fucked with demons and people screaming, and that's not what
it is, you're immediately going to rebel and say this movie's shit.
Unfortunately, the movie got leaked online a week before its
release, and the version that leaked online was not the one getting
the theatrical release. An output of my first cut leaked online.
Now, anyone that's ever worked in the movie business or filmmaking
knows that 99% of the population can never see past a rough edit.
They can't; it's impossible. The equivalent would be if a child was
sick and the mother and father bring him to the hospital to get care
and the doctor says, "Hey, his appendix burst; we're going to do
surgery on him," and then the doctor calls the parents in the middle
of surgery, his guts hanging out and ask, "What do you think?" You
can't look at that. You have to look at the final product; did the
kid survive, how did the kid look after the surgery? But the movie
was put online and was immediately downloaded from torrent sites. It
was there about a week, downloaded by every torrent site, every
Pirate Bay, everything like that, on an Avid output of the movie.
All of a sudden reviews started popping up everywhere. The movie was
only released in 10 cities, but there were thousands of reviews
where people had not seen the movie. They'd seen an Avid output from
the three weeks in the edit. It was really unfortunate. Then couple
that with a bad trailer that basically sets it out to be something
it wasn't. So I think that the expectations were skewed by a lot of
It's like movies like
where you confront in a serious way using horror tropes profound
issues about God and reality raising questions like "Does God exist,
does the devil exist, who is the devil, how do we tell?" And of
course you have to deliver the goods of the twist and the scary
appreciate that. More so than anything what I'm trying to do with
myself as a filmmaker and a career is to do different types of films
to show my versatility as a director going from
11-11-11. I'm doing
another movie right now, I'm actually on the road with it,
Devil's Carnival, which is another rock opera, a
Rocky Horror Picture Show
kind of thing. It's to continually do new and interesting things.
Which is the film style that you're drawing on – Lloyd Kaufman and
finished the film, it was released believe it or not, on Mother's
Day, because it is a remake of the 1982 Mother's Day, one of
Troma's original and finest. I took a very different spin on it than
Troma did. Lloyd and
Kaufman were actually out on the set when we filmed
it, and it's a very, very serious, dark look at the bond that
children and mothers have with one another. It stars
You wrote the screenplay for
11-11-11. Is it much easier when you're writing a screenplay and
directing at the same time? All of the Saw movies are done by
harder. I thought it would be easier. It's actually much harder
because I'm so tied to what I wrote. I don't mean I don't want to
change it, that's not it. For
example, I wrote the movie in a month and then two days later I was
on a plane to Barcelona and there was no time that I could separate
myself from what I wrote. With the movies I didn't write I have no
ties to it when I walk in, and so I read it and I'm like, "Okay this
works, this works, this doesn't work, I'm not going to shoot that,
I'll shoot this." When I write something at that point in my mind
everything worked or I wouldn't put it on paper, I wouldn't have
written it. I wish I would have had at least a month off. If I was
going to do this again, and it's actually funny that after I've
written the last three movies I've done and sold them which is
exciting for me. But I would always do something different from this
point on; I would take a break, walk away from it for a month, two
months, and then come back and approach it as a director. In this I
was directing approaching it as a writer, and so in moving forward I
would probably take a break after I write something before I try to
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