Devil Town: Our Infernal Interview With Nick Barrett

piuyfvbsjhgs1z4ixkmww8zfz7-hfyxado1tt5eisqc6npa2j5_o1xdezck5h3p4rdblj2gwwhfzjmupgctijf3hkwoowaut34jih51s0uy_hymq_cg5ivjyjx4gs8mrlscold2fgz5dat-j5fnkscyik2zbtd-2vf_adftpmbd54esgp0jtlfdranfhnlem5niid4ocLast week, CWR was given a chance to review Devil Town, a short film in the spirit of classic 60s horror.While Devil Town’s protagonist may have been unwittingly cornered, the fiendish flick’s creator was more than happy to speak with us about his inspiration. Here’s our interview with director Nick Barrett.
Could you tell us a bit about what inspired the story behind Devil Town?

As with most film ideas it’s usually a collision of different thoughts and influences. In Devil Town’s case I was given an old fashioned whistle as a present and just had it lying around my room, I kept picking it up and thinking why someone would pull it out of their pocket. I’m also a huge fan of the old fifties Twilight Zone as well and always loved their ‘containment’ episodes, ones that were set entirely in say a train station waiting room, a roadside café or, infamously enough, a plane journey at  20,000 feet. These kinds of shows were known as ‘bottle’ episodes (episodes designed to save money by using limited props, actors and locations) but they’re some of my favourites as well – and the concept lends itself perfectly to low budget shorts. When done well the viewer won’t even be aware of the contained environment, or it just becomes so integral to the narrative that it isn’t an issue – you can see it working brilliantly in recent films like The Invitation or Green Room or a TV show like Inside No 9.

Harold Pinter was a big inspiration too – the concept of a stranger invading another’s space, the power struggle between two characters, conflicting class systems, you see all that in things like The Homecoming, The Servant, The Birthday Party and The Caretaker – and I’m sure the concept of a rather sinister tramp was subliminally lifted from the great man’s work.

You reference Invasion of the Body Snatchers pretty directly in your film. What other movies would you count as having inspired you?

 I’d have to say some of the early Roman Polanski films, I love films like Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby or The Tenant, in all three Polanski creates a wonderful atmosphere of slow-burn dread where the main character feels there’s a growing conspiracy against them – and as the narrative tightens things get more and more claustrophobic and tense for them – hopefully we’ve done the same thing with Devil Town.
Polanski was a master at building these dread-fueled micro-worlds so I’d definitely say he was a prime influence, particularly the way he plays with sound and the use of foreground and background focusing; you can see a similar technique in our film where we place an important character or action in the background while the foreground is meant to hold the viewer’s attention.

From my understanding, Devil Town is your second horror film, following 2014’s Pearl. Is there a specific subgenre you gravitate towards?

 Yes Pearl was our ‘pastoral’ horror, very much indebted to films like Picnic at Hanging Rock, Don’t Look Now or Valerie and her Week of Wonders, wherever we’ve shown that one there’s been one particular moment that has repulsed and shocked every audience that’s seen it, we didn’t quite realise how terrifying the actor playing our ‘monster’ would be!

Regarding sub-genres I guess I’m moving towards the supernatural as I love a good ghost story! They’re the hardest horror sub-genre to get right though I think as they’re such delicate things, Roald Dahl writes an excellent introduction on the subject in ‘Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories’, it’s a great collection and the short story Harry was a direct influence on Pearl.

What were some of the challenges and rewards you encountered working on Devil Town?

Devil Town was the hardest short film I’ve had to put together as it involved quite a large number of logistics, even for such a contained film. I had to source about 25 extras, the location, hire out some camera equipment and have extensive talks with my DoP – the incredibly talented Marcos Avlonitis – who shot the whole thing beautifully, it has a real cinematic quality, it’s in 4K and we used some gorgeous Zeiss lenses to give it a real musty almost seventies-feel.
One of the hardest challenges was finding the right two actors to play our principles – the piece stands or falls on two guys who basically have to pull out all the stops as the script required each character to be so nuanced in each line they have to give – it’s meant to be like a conversational duel or tennis match! Luckily, after a long long search period, I managed to find Johnny Vivash and Matthew Hebden who both just astounded me in rehearsals – I actually couldn’t believe my luck finding two guys that just seemed absolutely perfect for their roles, if you watch the film I’m sure you’ll agree – although neither is anything like their characters in real life!

The rewards on this project have been endless, I was pretty humbled to work with such talented people that gave their absolute all and we’ve all become firm friends and hung out on and off ever since – you can’t ask for a greater reward when making a film. Hopefully, for all concerned, the film itself is reward enough as well – I think the proof is definitely on screen that all our hard work has paid off, and we’ve been so gratified recently to see Devil Town do incredibly well, we were snapped up almost straight away by ShortsTV and then bought by an American production company for their next anthology film (Ruthless Pictures via Dread Central) and this is before we even hit the festival circuit! Last year we had our London and Los Angeles premieres and, as of the start of this year, we’re officially on the festival circuit and have had four official selections already – it’s looking good!

What projects can we be looking forward to in the future?

 I’ve just finished the first draft of a feature film that I’ll be setting up later this year, though we’ve got to find the right producer first. It’s a contained supernatural thriller that we’re hoping will scare the pants off our audiences (‘or your money back’ we should put on the posters). It’s not an extension of Devil Town I might add, but we’re using the short to show producers what we can achieve and the possible ‘tone’ of the film; we’re pretty positive that with the success of Devil Town we should be able to get some funding through. I guess all we can say right now is – watch this space (and like our Corporeal Films page for more updates!)


Devil Town has been added as an official selection of Dread Central, has also been accepted to play on ShortsTV, and will be available to buy through iTunes in 2017. Devil Town has also been accepted by Germany’s ARC Festival and will be shown this April.

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Running the Race on The Bachelor [One Year Later]

Almost exactly a year ago today I wrote a little about race and my latest obsession at the time, ABC’s The Bachelor. At that point we were in the middle of its 20th season, which had the very affable Ben Higgins as the pearl of great price 28 women were striving to attain.

While both that show and its spinoff, The Bachelorette, have never had stellar track records as far as racial diversity, things came to a head when Jubilee Sharpe, the final Black contestant remaining, was eliminated on the first day of February [AKA Black History Month]. Cue soundbites from higher-ups that “[they’re] doing a whole lot of tweaks”. Not that that’s anything new, as a lengthy interview that NPR conducted with host Chris Harrison back in 2015 reveals they’ve long been aware of the issue, and that they want to do something about it. Harrison also used the exact words “we really tried” after surmising that a previous previous star was “1/16th Cherokee Indian”, if that’s any indication of what we might expect.

Those of you who follow both shows will be well-aware of the events that took place at the beginning of this week, but before I get into that I want to fill in the gaps between that last post and this one.

So, What Happened After Ben’s Season?

The cyclical nature of franchise means that the The Bachelor premieres every January, with The Bachelorette following not too long afterwards in May. ABC Entertainment Group president Paul Lee, the man who hinted at the “tweaks” up above, also told reporters at the time that:

“I’d be very surprised if ‘The Bachelorette’ in the summer isn’t diverse. I think that’s likely”

He also made reference to something called the “farm team”, which sounds, at least to this writer, like a pretty degrading term for the contestants featured on each season of The Bachelor or The BacheloretteVariety notes that the norm is for the next Bacheloron [a gender neutral term for the star of either program that I took from an article I’ll link to later] to be from the previous season’s “farm team”. With that in mind both fans and critics of the franchise saw the 12th season of The Bachelorette as the perfect opportunity to make that much-needed change. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E16 “And the Tease Time”: A TV Review

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“When one pair of legs closes, another one opens.”

Or at least that’s what Polish Oprah says. I’d be careful about disagreeing with her, since critics are hanged by the neck until dead. It’s also the tactic that 2 Broke Girls appears to be taking, since I can’t remember a point when both Max and Caroline were in serious romantic relationships at the same time. One may have a brief fling while the other is dating, but that’s about the extent of it.

Larger ensemble comedies have likewise chosen to give select characters the spotlight re: significant others, but in this case the rest of the cast plays second fiddle to the duo at its core. The inability, or unwillingness, of the show’s writers’ room to allow both Max and Caroline date concurrently speaks to their narrow focus. One at a time; wait your turn, please.

To be fair this episode actually closes on the idea that they might be trying to make a change moving forward, so we should probably get to what actually happens-

Continue reading

Devil Town: A Short Film Review

piuyfvbsjhgs1z4ixkmww8zfz7-hfyxado1tt5eisqc6npa2j5_o1xdezck5h3p4rdblj2gwwhfzjmupgctijf3hkwoowaut34jih51s0uy_hymq_cg5ivjyjx4gs8mrlscold2fgz5dat-j5fnkscyik2zbtd-2vf_adftpmbd54esgp0jtlfdranfhnlem5niid4ocWe open on a late afternoon as a ragged street preacher prophesies impending death and doom to disinterested passers-by. Among their number is Patrick Creedle (Matthew Hebden of Cartwheels and The Basil Brush Show), a character as fantastically despicable as his phone conversations are loud and abusive.

Which, for the record, is very.

Creedle steps into a local cafe for a coffee, unaware that the street preacher has followed him inside. Cornering Creedle at his table, Rime of the Ancient Mariner-style, the street preacher demands a few minutes of his captive’s time to relay a tale of creeping horror.

Hebden’s performance is definitely the highlight of the film, appearing instantly despicable without being cartoonish. He’s very much the self-absorbed ***hole that we know to well, and in his more sympathetic moments, Creedle could very much be us if we were caught on a bad day.

Our street preacher (Johnny Vivash of The Creature Below and The Collaborators) does a decent job of portraying a schizotypal vagrant who might not be quite as crazy as he first sounds. His insistence that a dark conspiracy is afoot grows increasingly eerie with every desperate whisper. Continue reading

Evan & Gordon Talk/Culture War Correspondence: Is It Okay to Punch Nazis?

EVAN: Ladies, gentlemen, and the rest, it has been almost two whole years since we released a “Culture War Correspondence”, the feature formerly known as “Evan and Gordon Talk”.

You can thank/blame my co-writer for its momentary revival, and I’ll let him be the one to introduce the topic for this week-

GORDON:  “Is it OK to punch Nazis?”

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Some of you may remember back in November, when alt-right spokesman Richard Spencer was clobbered during an interview with an Australian news channel, an event which prompted many across the nation (and indeed, the world) to ask that very question.

EVAN: When you first broached this topic with me I remember saying “Is the answer not ‘always’?”, to which you responded “Not by my book, no.”

That in turn led to me greenlighting this whole thing, because I think that may be as much a surprise to our readers as it was to me at the time.

GORDON: I guess part of that stems from who you define as a “Nazi”. I mean, sure, there’s the folks who stomp around in jackboots with swastikas tattooed over their chests…

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…But there’s plenty of folks- including Richard Spencer, who totally is a Nazi- who claim to be simple “White Nationalists”. As if there’s any ****ing difference.

I guess that’s to say I probably wouldn’t lay the almighty smackdown on someone’s bigoted grandma, y’know?

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Unless you cut me off in traffic one more time, Helen…

EVAN: It sounds like your stance, if you want to really boil it down, is to attack the able-bodied or “those who can take it.”

GORDON:   I don’t know if I’d say it’s about attacking those who can take it. Not that I’m in favor of wailing on the feeble (something that the Nazis, for the record, are all too eager to do), just that I don’t view someone’s bigoted grandmother as an actual threat.

If Agnes winds up pulling off the retirement-home-putsch, that might be another story.

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It’s not like the Fascist leadership in Germany, Spain, and Italy were all hip youngsters…

Continue reading

Timecode: A Short Film Review

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“Actions speak louder than words.”

That’s a difficult motto to live by on a blog, but a crucial one in regards to short films given their limited run time. Considering the fact that you could fit the dialogue in Juanjo Giménez’s Timecode on a single sheet of paper only elevates its importance.

With a handful of award-winning short films [including Rodilla and Maximum Penalty]
already to his name the Spanish director’s latest features two security guards who work in an underground parking garage, one taking the day shift and the other the night. Playing Luna and Diego are Lali Ayguadé and Nicolas Ricchini, respectively, and although their shared acting experience is limited there’s no question of their being talented performers.

Both Ayguadé and Ricchini have impressive careers as dancers and choreographers, and their remarkable control over their bodies causes them to imbue every movement with purpose, whether it’s stiffly brushing past each other or jogging back up a hallway to clock-in to work. This even extends to raising the corner of a mouth being raised ever so slightly. This largely wordless short film might collapse in on itself with different talent, but the duo make it look effortless. Continue reading

2 Broke Girls, S6E15 “And the Turtle Sense”: A TV Review

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Move over, 2 Broke GirlsSuperior Donuts owns the 9 PM Monday time slot now! The half hour delay of gratification for fans of the sitcom may have been frustrating, but it’s far from something to worry about. After all, it’s not like CBS has moved the show to Friday evenings, where programs go to die.

This week feels like things are back to basics, although the showrunners do try something new within that framework. What’s notable is the absence of an expected Sophie and Oleg B story, with the two narratives instead belonging to the title characters. That’s right, while we get our regular dose of Max we’re also treated to much more Caroline than usual! Continue reading