Joel Schumacher may not be the first filmmaker who comes to mind when one thinks big-screen horror. But a quick glance at his resume reminds us there’s more to the man than campy Batman movies and John Grisham adaptations. The Lost Boys, anyone? Flatliners? Heck, even his adaptation of the stage musical Phantom of the Opera isn’t without its merits. Okay, okay—we needn’t discuss his recent Jim Carrey misfire The Number 23. But the director looks to redeem himself with his next genre effort, Town Creek, an indie horror flick starring Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell, The Tudors’ Henry Cavill and Australian newcomer Emma Booth.
I spoke with Booth—often referred to as “the next big thing to come out of Australia”—on her recent U.S. press tour for Introducing the Dwights (know internationally as Clubland), an indie Aussie comedy in which the lovely twenty-five-year-old model-turned-actress is making her big-screen debut. Based on what she told me about Town Creek, it seems Schumacher’s looking to fuse the frights of his early horror hits with the gritty complexity of recent efforts like Tigerland and Phone Booth…
How did you get involved with Town Creek?
“After Sundance, there was a bit of a buzz, obviously, around Introducing the Dwights, and people talking about all of us as actors. I just joined up with William Morris who rang up Joel Schumacher and said, ‘Look, there’s this girl I think you should meet. I think she’d be great for your film. She was really good in this film.’ He said, ‘Fantastic, I’d love to meet her.’ So, I went over [to] his house the next day, and we had a chat for about an hour, and hit it off. He came in, I think, two days later into William Morris, saw Clubland and loved it, and offered me the role straightaway. I had to learn a German accent for it, but when I got to Romania [where Town Creek was shot], it changed to an otherworldly, timeless American accent with a German influence.
“So, that’s how I got that one, which was pretty easy. I was like, ‘Thank you!’”
What exactly is Town Creek about?
“It’s a supernatural thriller. It’s a story about revenge. Two brothers come back to take revenge on a family that have kept one of them captive for two years in this trailer, and used him as a sacrifice to this man, this historian; who came to live there sixty-five years ago, who started studying the ruins the house is built on. It turns out he’s some crazy Nazi vampire. I’m gonna stop right there, because once I start talking about it, it just sounds ridiculous.”
He’s a vampire?
“He’s not… How do I explain this? You know, I’ve asked Joel. I’m like, ‘Could you write down easy sentences for me to, like, explain this film?’ ‘Cause we’re all like, ‘How do you put this? How do you explain this film?’”
Could you talk about the character you play in Town Creek?
“I play Lisa. She’s a young German girl, who’s born in Germany and came over during the Second World War to set up home in West Virginia with her family, and went to an American school and grew up until this man came, basically. He started feeding off her. It’s quite perverted actually. It’s a bit sick.”
This vampire started feeding off of her?
“Yeah. It’s not really a vampire. It’s one of these films you cannot…you’ve just got to go and see it. But, basically, once you’ve been fed off, you don’t grow old. So instead of letting this creature—or this man—out, she’s so intelligent, she’s been stealing his books over the years and found out how to basically contain him down in this cellar.”
Are you a good gal or a bad gal?
“A goody. But a baddy to protect the family, because she knows if they let this man out, they don’t know what the hell he’s going to do to the rest of the world. So they paint runes all over the perimeter fences and keep him captive. They end up stealing people from the woods around the house, and tying them up in the trailer, and eventually, over sixty-five years, they go through so many people—and he just feeds off them—one of them, he actually lets go on purpose because he knows he’ll bring back his brother, or someone else, because he can see how angry this man is.”
Were you a horror fan prior to doing this film?
“Oh yeah—big, big horror fan. Love horror. So I wanted to do it. We wrote a lot of the script as we went, filled in all the holes, kind of fixed it up a bit. Because some of the effects…
“These horses they had come in from Spain were incredible, what they could do. One point, they had me tied to a chair, and [a horse] runs up, pushes down the door. This door was so heavy, it was an inch away from me, and just kept slamming down. [The horse] comes through, bites [Wristcutters’] Shea Wigham—who was in the scene as well—rips him out the window. This was one of the scenes, and we had to do it so many times, but these horses were trained to do that. I was shitting my pants. I’m tied to this chair going, ‘I’m not acting!’ It was scary but they’ve got one of the best special-effects guys working on it. If he pulls this off, which I’m sure he will… There’s some things in this that I’ve never seen done. It’s interesting because when I come into it… It’s, like, a twenty-four hour period; they arrive and just all hell breaks loose. That’s how… I don’t want to give it all away, but it’s twenty-four hours of absolute hell.
So the film itself spans 24 hours?
Except for the first part, where it’s black and white, and it’s back in the 1930’s and you see them all happy. It looks so beautiful. Then, bang, it skips to this day and age. And then, one of the brothers, you see his life, until his other brother comes back and says, ‘You’re coming with me.’ He’s like, ‘My God, you’re still alive!’ He thought he was dead, he’s been gone for two years. So, anyway, if you got something from that, good on you. It’s pretty hard to explain!