FEAR IS BORN IN THE BLOOD-CURDLING HORROR THRILLER “DEVIL’S DUE” ON MARCH 19

devils due

A film about a woman impregnated with…something powerful and evil, and dealing with horrific consequences is the “Devil’s Due.”

In “Devil’s Due,” a young couple, Zach McCall (Zach Gilford) and Samantha (Allison Miller) is  about to tie the knot.  A bright future lies ahead for them – and after an emotional wedding ceremony, they take off for a honeymoon in the sun-kissed Dominican Republic.  Their trip takes a bizarre turn after an uncomfortable session with a psychic, who ominously warns the couple that “he has been waiting.” More than a little taken aback by the encounter, Zach and Sam find themselves lost on some dark and empty streets when they finally find a cab driver, who insists on driving them to a subterranean bar for an “autentico” Dominican Republic experience.   Then, things get really unsettling.

Sam and Zach soak up the unusual surroundings – as well as copious quantities of alcohol.  Along the way, fleeting glimpses of disturbing images accompany them from the revelry:  a heap of bones, a grinning skull, a hideous flash of a limp and bloody female body, muffled voices…and a low, insistent chanting.  Flash forward to the next morning.  The newlyweds remember little of the previous night’s events.  Shortly after their return home, Sam learns she is pregnant.  Despite the surprising news, the couple makes plans for an addition to their new family.

devils due

Soon, however, disturbing clues emerge that their situation is anything but normal:  an ultrasound exam and amniocentesis take a troubling turn; on a grocery shopping expedition, Sam, a vegetarian, crams raw, bloody meat into her mouth; in a shopping mall parking lot, she cracks the rear window of a car with a strength and ferocity that doesn’t seem possible for a woman several months pregnant; and her belly seems to stretch and contort, as if the baby is pushing from the inside with extreme force.

Along with the scares, the filmmakers focus on the two lead characters. “The style of the movie allows you to be involved in the relationship between Zach and Sam in a really intimate and almost voyeuristic way,” says director Bettinelli-Olpin.  “And we wanted to own the pregnancy from the start; we didn’t want to hide it and make you wait. So, the scene where Sam is impregnated is about 15 minutes into the movie.” Casting the two leads was a key element in the filmmakers’ goal to bring audiences into Sam and Zach’s world and their increasingly dire circumstances.  Zach Gilford’s “everyman” likability – so evident in his signature role as high school football quarterback Matt Saracen in the acclaimed TV series Friday Night Lights – is on full display in “Devil’s Due.”  And, says Gillett, “Allison Miller was one of the first people we auditioned, and she blew us away. We just fell in love with her, and with Zach; it never feels like they’re acting.”

Filmed on location in the Dominican Republic, at Carnivale and various other sites, including a nightclub in a ruined catacomb, where Zach and Sam spend the fateful final night of their honeymoon, the production then moved to New Orleans, where most of principal photography took place.

Directing quartet Radio Silence embraced the typical scheduling constrains that befall some genre fare shot with “guerilla-style” filmmaking.  “We felt like we had an abundance of time and money, just based on the films we’ve made in the past,” says Gillett.  “The biggest challenge was getting people on board for how we wanted to make the movie.       “So it was more about giving everyone the sense that we’re a part of this together, so let’s jump in and have fun with it.”

Still, no amount of experimentation could address some of the unexpected challenges during production, including a tornado that blew through the church set, which not only had the production scrambling to reschedule the day’s shoot, but had the cast and crew hiding in the building’s stairwells to avoid the fearsome winds.

Later, there was a fire – on the same set.  “Just the fact that it was happening in a church, and we’re making a movie about the Anti-Christ, was just kind of creepy,” says Bettinelli-Olpin.  “To this day, it makes me smile every time I think about it.”

“Devil’s Due” opens March 19 in theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

ALLISON MILLER FACES UNEXPECTED PREGNANCY IN “DEVIL’S DUE”

Allison Miller Devils due

A newly-married couple find themselves facing an early and unplanned pregnancy in the horror thriller “Devil’s Due” starring Zach Gifford and Allison Miller.  Miller is Sam McCall in the movie who suddenly finds her life turned upside down when they found out that her unexpected pregnancy may be the devil’s work.

Miller, 28-year-old and was born in Rome, Italy, but raised in Kentucky and Florida, had paid her dues as a guest on “General Hospital,” “CSI: NY,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Boston Legal.”  On the big screen she starred as Zac Efron’s girlfriend in “17 Again” and as Alice McKee in the live action version of “Blood: The Last Vampire.”

Allison Miller Devils due

In the following q&a by Tony Horkins, Miller shares on the audition and the unprecedented filmmaking process of “Devil’s Due.”

Q:           How do you think your audition went?

A             “Good, and I never feel that way. Even other jobs that I’ve gotten, I never feel good about my performance in the audition. For this one there was a lot of improvisationand it all felt very natural and that was a lot easier for me, that style.”

Q:           Your directors, Radio Silence, say that you set the standard from your first audition, and that with subsequent actresses they found themselves saying, ‘Well, she’s not Allison.’ Were you aware of that?

A:            Ha ha! No way! I really was not. Though the first time I met with them I’d had an audition earlier that morning that I felt so awful about, and after their audition I drove home and just felt so good. I had the windows down, I was blaring classical music, and I felt that that was it, that was my best stuff. Though I had to do two more auditions after that!

Q:           Did you have any concern about their relative lack of experience and the unconventional route they’d taken to helm a movie?

A:            To be honest, yeah. Because I’m not an established actress I feel like working with a director that knows what they’re doing is one of the most important things. But really the first time I met them I started getting notes in the audition room, and I felt like these notes were really insightful and they just seemed to have a really clear idea of what they wanted. Any fear I had quickly disappeared.  I could see that they were really creative and inventive and ambitious – I liked what I saw.

Allison Miller Devils due

Q:           Your chemistry with Zach was particularly impressive – did you know him?

A:            We’d never met before. He came in and did a ‘chemistry’ read and I immediately felt that he was the right guy for the job. His style is very laid back and he never seems like he’s acting to me. When I found out he was going to do the part and I was going to be playinghalf of a married couple with a total stranger it felt a bit daunting, so I needed to feel I had some kind of connection with him. So I started watching Friday Night Lights and that did it for me.

Q:           The chemistry seems as though it’s there at the beginning, or did it develop?

A:            It developed, but developed pretty quickly. We really got along, and the first week we went into production we went out to dinner one night, found out about each other’s lives, and then working on set for so long we got to know each other pretty well. Then we had a lot in common – we’re both actually newly-weds in real life, so there was a lot to talk about.

Q:           Did the fact that you were both newlyweds help in actually playing a newlywed? Were you able to bring that experience to the role?

A:            Definitely. We haven’t gotten to go on a honeymoon yet, but the wedding and the preparation and what it’s like to be living with someone you know you’re going to be living with for the rest of your life… that’s very much a part of my day to day. Knowing what the arguments are going to be like, and that kind of high you get when you’re newly married and it’s so exciting. That’s happened in the past year for the both of us so we knew all about that stuff.

Q:           Your dialogue seems very much improvised…

A:            Well we would do a couple of takes completely scripted, and then a few takes doing whatever we felt within the realm of the scene, finding the through-line. It was very liberating.

Q:           Things get pretty dark in this movie – did it feel creepy filming it?

A:            It never felt that creepy – for me it almost felt fun. There were times we had to go to really dark places and really hard emotional places, but just the way that our crew was and the way that everyone on set was, it was very easy to come out of that. It always just felt like we were playing and having fun, even when I was covered in blood and freezing. Looking back on it it kind of creeps me out, but when we were shooting it I was really enjoying it.

Allison Miller Devils due

Q:           Were you much of a fan of the point of view style of movie making?

A:            I am – I think it’s really interesting. I really like how they used it in Chronicle, though I haven’t seen any of the Paranormal Activity films. I know it’s such a trend right now, but I really like what it does for the naturalism of the movie.

Q:           In which way do you think Devil’s Due veers away from the Rosemary’s Baby story?

A:            The dynamic of the couple is incredibly different and the style that it’s shot in is different; Rosemary’s Baby is not so much a horror movie, it’s more of a psychological thriller. I think Devil’s Due has more shocking moments and there’s a lot of humor in it too.

“Devil’s Due” opens March 19 in theaters from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

 

YOUTUBE GROUP PHENOMENON RADIO SILENCE REELS IT REAL-TIME IN “DEVIL’S DUE”

allison Miller Devils Due

There’s the traditional route to a directorial debut; camcorder obsession, film school, an internship, personal assistant, directorial assistant, the keys to the store. And then there’s Radio Silence, a collective of four talented filmmakers who used YouTube to learn their craft, post their clips and advertise their wares with so much professional aplomb that Fox made all their dreams come true.

Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Justin Martinez and Chad Villella grew from the ashes of the former group known as Chad, Matt & Rob, three friends who had an idea, a camera, some technical expertise – much of it gleaned from YouTube tutorials –and got to work. Their breakout was Alien Roommate Prank Goes Bad, a found-footage style short they posted in February 2008; as of today, it’s been viewed more than 32 million times.

allison Miller Devils Due

When Rob Polonsky left the group, they were joined by Justin and Tyler, reformed as Radio Silence and continued their YouTube domination, moving into a series of ‘interactive adventures’, narrative shorts in which the viewer guided the plot. Ultimately, however, they had ambitions beyond on-line media.

“TV and film were always the end game for us,” says Chad. “When we were in the digital space we were always working with concepts that felt bigger than even we maybe knew how to wrangle at the time. We were always wanting to make cool, big, cinematic things.”

Thankfully, writer Brad Miska was putting together a movie of found footage-style segments, and asked the soon-to-be-famous four to contribute. They were given a 17-minute slot, a $10,000 budget, and got to work: the movie, called part of a series called V/H/S, was a Sundance hit, and executives at Fox took notice.

allison Miller zach glifford Devils Due

“Lindsay Devlin had written a script and we got a phone call from John Davies at Fox when he was on vacation,” remembers Tyler. “We were standing in the parking lot of Poquito Mas on Sunset, literally spending our last dollars on lunch. He called, said he loved it on V/H/S, how he was really excited about it, and said ‘I think we should make this movie’. Literally the next day we were working on it.”

The resulting collaboration is Devil’s Due, starring TV’s “Friday Night Lights” Zach Gifford and Allison Miller, best known for her work on NBC series Kings and Go On, and the Spielberg-produced Terra Nova for Fox. The movie is a fresh, contemporary take on the Rosemary’s Baby-style horror story: as newlyweds, their lives are turned upside down when an unexpected pregnancy may be the devil’s work, with each twist and turn captured on ‘home’ video.

“The point of view element is obviously it’s a much-used technique nowadays and  Blair Witch Project was the first movie where the whole conceit of it was that it was real. It was really the first of its kind and felt so incredibly authentic,” says Tyler.

allison Miller zach glifford Devils Due

For “Devil’s Due,” tons of scenes and dialogue are improv’d according to the group.  “All of the scenes and how they were serving the larger story were pretty specifically dialed in, but how we approached them, how the camera existed in the scene… there were many scenes where Zach was shooting with Allison and we were just there to make sure everything was framed right. It was an incredibly grass roots approach to each scene, and the improv was a part of that.  Thankfully, Zach had been around cameras enough and is a photographer himself. I talked him through the camera for 15 minutes and there was a learning curve, and by the time we had shot a day and a half we knew exactly what we were doing, separating the scenes he was actually shooting from the ones we were shooting as him. It was a fun way to get him involved,” Matt shares.

Tyler concludes, “On YouTube the credit doesn’t matter – they’ll watch your stuff or not. That’s just how it works. It was never about credit-hogging, it was always about making cool shit.  For the most part everyone’s been incredibly open to the idea of this group of four guys who want to make cool shit.”

“Devil’s Due” will be out in cinemas on March 19 from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.