Exclusive Interview: Seconds Apart’s Antonio Negret

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After Dark Originals preview part 1

Twins have long populated the horror genre, exploring themes of duality (The Dark Half) or strong familial bonds (Twins of Evil, The Other, Dead Ringers). While the notion of twins doesn’t always have to feature identical brothers and/or sisters (House of Wax remake), visually speaking, when a film does spotlight siblings who look alike, the effect can be unnerving (The Shining).

In January, After Dark Films will release Seconds Apart, one of eight new movies arriving under the After Dark Originals banner. This film, too, plays on the “evil twins” sub-genre as it follows Seth and Jonah (Gary and Edmund Entin), brothers with the power of telekinesis who begin to kill their classmates off. Something ignites a feud between them, however, and evil is quickly pitted against evil.

Shock Till You Drop spoke with director Antonio Negret about his film, penned by George Richards. Click here for a hi-res look at an exclusive photo we’re debuting via this interview.

Shock Till You Drop: How did you get into the After Dark fold?

Antonio Negret: I had only done one feature film before this and it was a film called Towards Darkness. It was a gritty, dark, independent film starring America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and it was set in Columbia, where I was born. That movie was sent out by my agents, After Dark saw it. They sent a few scripts my way and I remember, late one night, getting the Seconds Apart script and it was one of those nights where I was just tired and not sure if I could read a whole script. But it grabbed me and I read the whole thing. It was original, fresh and I was surprised by how twisted it was. I put a campaign together to get the script and put a pitch together for After Dark. I was fortunate enough to get the film going.

Shock: We’ve all seen our fair share of “twin” thrillers – Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers immediately comes to mind – so what sets Seconds Apart, well, apart from those other movies?

Negret: What I loved about it in the first place is that it allowed for psychological and sophisticated thrills – as it delves into the relationship of these two brothers – on the other hand, it had these great death sequences that were visceral and got under your skin. It was an opportunity to make a horror film that played both sides, to get under your skin and be disgusting, but it was smart. Jacob’s Ladder is a good example of smart and visceral, making you question reality.

Shock: You cast Gary and Edmund Entin, real life twins we’ve seen in other horror fare. They’re creepy, no doubt. Were they your first pick or did you scour town for twins?

Negret: We definitely looked around. It was really bizarre, I have to be honest. The casting sessions were some of the craziest I’ve ever been to. I remember walking in in the morning and meeting dozens of twins each day. So many twins! From the beginning, we knew we wanted to find identical twins who could actually act and not do what Dead Ringers did with a single actor playing two roles. It was too far out of our schedule and budget. The whole movie rested on the twins we had to find. I was familiar with the Entins from the Rest Stop movies, but in those it wasn’t clear there if they could act. When they came through the door, it was apparent we found our leads.

Shock: And they’re not as eerie as their on-screen counterparts, correct?

Negret: [laughs] No, they’re much nicer in person, thankfully. I’m really happy with their performance.

Shock: You throw Orlando Jones into the mix and you raise a few eyebrows. What did he bring to the table?

Negret: It was interesting. It’s not the kind of movie we’ve seen him in and it’s not the genre he does. He did From Dusk Till Dawn 3, but I can’t think of any other horror movie he’s done. Here he really stepped up to the plate and he put himself out there. People will be impressed, I think. To me, the key to his character was really finding a guy who didn’t fit in. That’s a theme of the movie. These twins don’t really fit into society and they have these powers. They’re separated characters and the only person who suspects them is a detective who is also removed from society. He lost his wife in a fire and is emotionally scarred.

Shock: Let’s talk about your time working under the After Dark Originals banner. Certainly there were challenges, whether it was creative or budgetary.

Negret: Yes, absolutely, it forces you to be creative and on your toes at all times. It was one of those films where every second, no pun intended, counted. We had to be fast on location in Louisiana. What I respect about the new banner is they’re giving chances to up-and-coming directors. They’re willing to take risks because of that. And what’s refreshing is these films are original stories, not remakes. They certainly touch on genres we all love, but the stories are fresh.

Shock: You clearly had a good time on the first film because then you moved on to Transit, another After Dark production, correct?

Negret: Yes, they paired up with Joel Silver to do action films. I think Transit is the first of several. That’s a slightly different turn, but I love this darkness and the movie is definitely dark, although not a horror film. It’s a family-in-peril film with a dangerous vibe. That was a great experience.

Shock: We’re going to have eight films on the slab to choose from when After Dark rolls out its slate, why should fans check yours out first? Give us the hard pitch…

Negret: [laughs] Seconds Apart is a total trip and total mind f**k. If you’re into that, it will take you down a dark and twisted path. Visually, I think we were able to create a cool world where you don’t know what’s real and what’s not. Part of the thing the twins do in this film is that they get into your head and once they do, there’s nothing you can do. This film will do the same thing. Hopefully, people will be thinking about it long after it is over. It’s definitely a ride.

Seconds Apart opens January 28.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor