The Films That Influenced AMONG US

It's funny to see this pic I took with the films I had the cast watch prior to filming....

The film I set out to make definitely falls within the "horror" genre, but I wanted to make something more than just a ghost story.  I was interested in exploring broken people, who were dealing with loss and the inability to move forward. People who weren't in a perfect relationship...

This would be a tragic love story set against the backdrop of a haunted house. 

So, in a sense, I wanted to play in a sandbox with some horror genre tropes -- but then put a twist on it by actually emphasizing a character driven story. I wasn't as concerned with the how and why of the haunting as I was about how the people dealt with it --- and each other. 

So this stack of films (pictured above) is what I watched as I co-wrote the script with my brother (Mike King) and as we were filming it in Maine.  They all represent various stories about survival, whether it be against some type of external force (nature/creature) -- or even more interestingly -- with other people. 

While filming the ending of the movie -- and even more so while editing the last sequence with Jamie Cobb -- 3 film endings came to mind.

The first 2 were David Cronenberg's THE FLY (1986) and LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH (1971). There's something absolutely lovely about how bold these movies are on how to close a film. In them, when the story ends, it ends. There's no fluff. No tacked on epilogue. After trying few endings, the one we used just felt natural. Everything else felt a bit forced. It was really liberating to have these films guide me and give the confidence to just do what we did. (Note: we actually filmed an alternate ending. It's included in the DVD and Blu-ray bonus features)

THE ENTITY (1982) was also a huge influence on how to close AMONG US. I won't spoil their ending, but there are some title cards that close the film that still brings chills every time I think of them. They leave you with more questions than answers -- and I love that. Not knowing why can be way more frightening than knowing.

So hopefully, people will feel the same about the ending of AMONG US, in that it will generate discussion. Those are the kinds of films that stay with me. I can only hope that AMONG US does the same for audiences.

See the film // iTunes // Blu-ray // DVD

Available on Cable VOD August 8th

3 Films That Affected My Life (Endings)

In continuing the series of calling out a few scenes I’ve seen in my lifetime that truly stand out, here are 3 more. These are not simply scenes I remember — they truly had a profound impact on me and on how I view the art of filmmaking. 

This one is all about the ending of a film. ***SPOILERS AHEAD!!***

THE FLY (Dir. David Cronenberg) - this film came out when I was in junior high -- and girl crazy. So when I saw this, I was all caught up in the romance and destroyed by its heartbreaking ending. What's funny is I really didn't care for Jeff Goldblum's character (Seth Brundle) -- until the very last minutes of the film, when he puts the shotgun to his head. So fucking tragic. I didn't want him to die. I wanted them to live happily ever after. And after it happens, there's no extra 5-10 minutes of unnecessary epilogue bookend shit. It just fades to black. The story is done. What an epic way to end this masterpiece.

LOST IN TRANSLATION (dir. Sofia Coppola) - Just when you think you're going to see another romance film, comes along this amazing gem. We want our leads to connect, and be together; and yet know it can't happen. So how do you end the film? The way Coppola does it (and according to some reports with the aid of Bill Murray's improv), it doesn't get any better. It's understated. Not so tragic. And in fact, it's hopeful.

THE THING (dir. John Carpenter) - It would be remiss for me to do an entry like this and not mention a Carpenter ending. His downbeat (yet hopeful) endings totally blew my mind as a kid. There was never anyone really riding off into the sunset -- and at an early age, I really dug his bleak storytelling style. It rang true. I could pick a ton of endings from his films (PRINCE OF DARKNESS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13)...and, of course, this one. So simple. So powerful. So open ended. Love it. 

The best part of a Carpenter ending is when it CUTS TO BLACK. Sadly, I couldn't find any video to let you experience that exact moment. Here's the closest I could find.

BLOW OUT (dir. Brian De Palma) - Okay so I'm cheating this time by sharing more than 3 films, because I can't mention a John Carpenter ending affecting me tremendously without mentioning how a 'De Palma CUT TO BLACK ending' is just as chilling and influential on my life. And none more powerful than this one. It wasn't happy. We are left devastated. Then the last scene happens which just crushes you. And then it ends.

I couldn't find a video clip of the ending...here's a shot from it. It's worth seeing the entire film anyway. 

Travolta's best performance happens in this scene.

For me, seeing BLOW OUT began a life long obsession with De Palma and how his CUT TO BLACK ending just fucking smacks you in the face (in the best of ways). It's very rare for me to experience such a visceral reaction to and ending as much as a De Palma film....save for Peter Weir.

Ok, cheating some more with 2 more films, since we're talking about Peter Weir now.

Peter Weir endings are fascinating. They can be both up or down, but again, his films end with some visceral, deeper punch to the gut. His movies really grab you by the collar and make you experience them. Both of these profoundly wrecked me: one with inspiration (DEAD POETS SOCIETY)...the other with hopelessness (GALLIPOLI).

DEAD POETS SOCIETY (dir. Peter Weir)

GALLIPOLI (dir. Peter Weir)

Madeline Kahn

Many people love Madeline Kahn -- especially in films like BLAZING SADDLES, HISTORY OF THE WORLD Part 1 -- even my wife's favorite CLUE. There's no doubt she was one of the best comediennes ever. Her timing was impeccable. 

But let's recall that she was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her turn in PAPER MOON (1973) -- one of my all-time favorite films. In the following scene, you can see such heartache and loneliness underneath everything.  She performs her monologue so effortlessly that it's so damn charming, in spite of who she is and what she wants. It's all beyond brilliant. 

What an underrated actress. I wish she were still around today. I would've cast her in everything.