Tuesday 7 August 2018

Interview with Vito Dinatolo - Director of The Infectious

Filmmaker Vito Dinatolo talks about his new movie, the infectious – no pun intended – thriller Face of Evil, now available on VOD and DVD.

How did the film come about, and can you tell us about the script – was it inspired by anything in particular?
I was always into horror movies, and horror movies can be placed in a realistic scenario, with causes justified by topical events. So my inspiration about the look of the infected came from a real nightmare I had when I was a kid, and that stuck to my mind. When I decided to make a horror movie, a few years ago, I adopted that look, but I thought it would be pointless to make just another genre movie about zombies... So I wrote the first draft in one month, a plain zombie action script, but it took me over one year to turn it into a psychological thriller that would make sense from the lead character's point of view. And yes, there are a few topical messages.

The movie touches contemporary issues like epidemics paranoia, vets PTSD, big brother conspiracy, any mass shooting rampage in recent history. Yet, it never loses focus on entertaining, which is why we really watch movies! It’s about the inner journey of a person on the run from his demons, real or not, from an unknown enemy, who may attack anywhere, anytime. Or perhaps it’s just the story of a victim, a scapegoat in a devious system. It’s a contemporary tale of realistic madness. And since we live in this world, we are somehow involved. It could read like the headline of any recent news: "Breaking News! Another war vet with post traumatic stress goes on a shooting rampage among the crowd and then he shoots himself!" Maybe he saw the enemy, monsters, zombies and whatnot… Maybe he was just fighting his demons… From a directorial standpoint, I think with horror or thriller you can express yourself better, show your style, leave your footprint on the product, while with comedy or action you heavily rely on actors, their charisma. You hear of horror movies directed by such or such, but for most genres, you need a star. Plus low budget horror is safer since it always sells.

The movie has been likened to Body Snatchers. How accurate is the comparison?
Body Snatchers is a fanta horror, it has supernatural/fantasy premises. Though we do not know whether such aliens exist indeed - they might - we are aware or viruses and parasites which behave as body  snatchers. Face of Evil is a Psychological horror/thriller. You may argue everything is going on through the movie, but by the end, you know that the all elements to the story are real/realistic, there is nothing absurd. Enough said, spoiler alert, you should watch the movie now!

Is it fun coming up with new ways for characters to die? Ha!
If you are writing a plain horror where gore is the main elements, I would come up with crazy ways to die, even more than you have already seen in Saw, Hostel and all the so called "porn/horror" or "sexy/horror" wave, meaning, torture/death arouses and thrills you (and please gimme a break if you deny it or else you would not watch them :) Face of Evil is not about that. Deaths have a specific mechanical cause inherent to the story. It is a pure function of the action, which is dictated by the motivation of the character. Bottom line, it's not like you already know people are going to die just because it's a horror movie with a bunch of expendable boys and girls. I cut out a lot of blood not just for budget reasons, but for story focus, in order not to digress and distract with useless, already seen, bloody murders, but stay focused on the story. If you see a gruesome death, you expect more, and more, and you lose the focus and the point of the film, and you might even be disappointed if there is no more. This film instead changes even genre as it transitions to the second/third act...

How tough is it for not only you as a filmmaker, but for your cast, to shoot such scenes?
To me it was tough mostly to plan the action, the blocking, and the sequential, mechanical, cause-effect deaths, basically the justification of a regular death vs a destined, predetermined death, just because the character is expendable. To the cast, I guess it's hard to identify in it, to feel pain and experience that moment right before dying. Or at least, that's how I would play that. The cast was great not only to play, but also to die. I'm not going to say who dies, but my cast includes talents like Jamie Bernadette, who has mad herself a name in the horror genre, the multi-talented Janet Roth, the ex hardcore star Charmane Star, and the two awesome leads Scott Baxter and Chad Bishop.

What do you use for blood on a movie set?
Pig blood. No, really, fake blood, you know, Halloween stuff, fake blood is easy to find in any makeup store. I still have half a gallon left...

And the look of the film, based on the trailer, suggests a colour palette and even similar tone to the classic zombie movies. Was that intentional?
Yes, it was intentional, the way it was shot (I don't believe in the "fix it in post" philosophy) and in color correction. Depending on the scene, the shade would change, but overall, darkness and blue/green tones prevail. Light high contrast lighting, a littler noir touch. Exterior metropolitan night shots are inspired to Carpenter, like the soundtrack vibe.

What is it about this topic that fascinates audiences, you think?
Emotions, as I said before, the thrill of being chased, or of chasing (depending on whom you identify with :) and the fact that blood is sexy in a way to those interested in this genre. That also goes back in a way to the dark/goth wave and the fetish world... but that's another story.

When did you watch your first cut? 
Since I shot the film in two parts, I watched the fist cut of the first part about three-four years ago, and the following years I watched the second half, after shooting it. Then, I watched it together...

When’s the release?
The film has been released on June 19th. You can now watch it on VOD and DVD on the links on the official website FOEmovie.com/shop. You can also find the great soundtrack there. Music by famous Gram Rabbit, Kid Hustle, Raven Hughes and, of course, filmmaker Vito Dinatolo, haha! Yes, me. It ranges from Electronica to Ambient, Rock, Pop, Hip Hop and whatnot.