In addition to putting a new spin on Mother’s Day, a remake of Charles Kaufman’s 1980 Troma production, director Darren Lynn Bousman is setting out to bring horror back to the suburbs. Not just adopt the idyllic look of Norman Rockwell’s America, but “ass rape it,” as he puts it.
“That’s kind of what we’ve done. Take it and set it in Middle America, every day life. It’s a Norman Rockwell gone wrong idea. Imagine if it was set in Leave It to Beaver, then make it scary,” explains Bousman during an afternoon break from shooting day 27 of 35 in Winnipeg, Canada. “The original was set in the barrens, this little disgusting cabin stuffed in the woods. That may have been scary 30 years ago but it’s not scary right now.”
After departing from the Saw franchise (where he helmed three installments) and veering outside of the career path box with Repo! The Genetic Opera, Bousman’s future was uncertain. Not that he didn’t have projects lined up. Next to the likes of Guillermo Del Toro, Bousman was one director who seemed to be attached to everything, from a Scanners remake to a reboot of the Hellraiser franchise. Yet what his next feature was going to be was always up in the air. While he decided, he knocked out an episode of Fear Itself called “New Year’s Day.” Then came the rumors that he was circling another famous “day” on the calendar, Mother’s Day, an obscure title to resurrect, but one with a following among cult film aficionados.
“I’ve turned down every remake that has come to me – when it was Hellraiser, Children of the Corn, all of them,” he says. “They’re too popular, there’s too much of a built-in fan base. There are die-hard fans of Charlie Kaufman’s Mother’s Day but I think it’s nowhere near as great as the fans of Pinhead and the fans of Malachai or Isaac. It wasn’t like I was shitting on the holy grail of remakes. I would never do a remake without the creator’s blessing and one of the first things I did was get on the phone with Lloyd and Charles Kaufman. I told them if I’m going to do a remake, here is the way I want to do it, are you cool with this? The worst thing in the world is to do a remake like Hellraiser, then have Clive Barker shit on it. One of the most important things to me was to have the original production team be okay with what I was doing.”
Bousman admits to originally turning the remake down when producer Richard Saperstein approached him to do it. It wasn’t until Brett Ratner (X-Men: The Last Stand) came a-callin’ that Bousman reconsidered his decision. “He pitched me on why he wanted to produce the movie. He wasn’t trying to rip the movie off, he didn’t want to do a carbon copy. I brought in [writer] Scott Milam and together we hashed out how we could do this without alienating the fans and do something that’s unique with it.”
“We came up with an idea that plays a massive homage to the original film but is completely different from the original film,” he continues, weaving a mystery with what exactly we should expect. “If you took that family that lived in the 1980s film and put them into today’s economic times, the things we’re dealing with now, how do you make them real? I think it works masterfully and Scott did a great job. You have the same archetypal characters. The iconic mother, then there’s Ike and Addley whose main purpose is to make sure mom is happy and proud. Again, it’s the same basic premise, mother allows her kids to torture and torment a group of victims while she scoffs and laughs. It deals with the same things that Charlie Kaufman’s film dealt with. What I loved about the original is that it’s more than an exploitation film. There was a message in there and it’s steeped in a lot of different things. That’s one thing we have tried to do as well.”
The story Bousman and Milam tell is a bloody family affair that centers on three brothers – Johnny, Ike and Addley – after a botched bank robbery. They head to their mother’s house to seek refuge only to find she no longer lives there. A couple now reside in their childhood home and they’re none too pleased about this. The couple and their guests soon become hostages and the brothers are quickly reunited with their sinister mother (played by Rebecca De Mornay).
Rounding out the cast is Jaime King (My Bloody Valentine 3-D), Patrick Flueger, Warren Kole, Deborah Ann Woll (True Blood), Matt O’Leary, Briana Evigan (Sorority Row), Kandyse McClure (Battlstar Galactica) and Shawn Ashmore (The Ruins).
“This cast is so f**kin’ insane,” Bousman says excitedly. “There’s not a weak link in it. It starts with the brothers played by Patrick Flueger, Matt O’Leary and Warren Kole. These guysâ¦you feel for them. Then you’re quickly introduced to the victims and you love them. Then you get to meet mother and Deborah Anne Woll [as the sister]. They all elevated what was on the page. I think the movie, as I realized on day three, was not the movie I was making in pre-production, it’s weird to say. It was because the movie morphed itself into something completely different. I thought it was going to be a fun, crazy, violent movie, but it’s more than that.”
“We’re shooting this scene on day five and it was a really violent scene,” he adds. “Bones were being snapped and it was horrific. We had storyboards and it’s probably one of the most violent things I’ve shot. As we were shooting, the prosthetics were not working. I didn’t care, I said let’s move on. We never went back to shoot those bones breaking, because I realized shooting this movie, that it did not matter. That’s not what made it scary, not the bones, not the blood, it was everything going on around it. The reaction of the brothers, the reaction of the victims. Violence takes the back seat to what’s f**ked up in the front of the camera. This movie is extremely violent, but that’s not what the movie is to me.”
Aside from these revelations, Bousman says one of the other exciting elements of making the film is watching his cast interact off-camera. He explains they’ve broken up into factions based on their characters. The brothers in the film have been isolating themselves from their on-camera victims; while the victims socialize separately from their aggressors. Meanwhile, “Mother is having family dinners with her family. There has been on and off animosity on the set within the character structure. It’s awesome and completely unplanned. There have been some ongoing battles with the family versus the victims. Everyone loves everyone but it’s completely showing on the screen and the characters are taking over.”
Like Repo!, which he describes as a “f**k you to everyone” seeking standard horror fare, Bousman is hoping Mother’s Day breaks the norm on a number of levels while making the audience relate to the situations and characters – something, he believes, was tough to do in the original. “Charles and Lloyd came to set and I was concerned with what Charles would think of the movie, but he completely got it. He said when he made his film he was making something that was right for the times. Something that was easily accessible for him. We have not seen this type of movie we’re making, I think what scares me about it is that this could really happen. It says, this could be you. One thing that always kills me in horror films is when people act really stupid, we’ve taken extreme consideration and care. How would people realistically react in this situation?”
“If I’m doing my job correctly, you’re not going to know who you’re supposed to be rooting for,” he reveals. “You might root for Ike. It might be Addley. Part of it might be the victims. Part is going to be rooting for mother. Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?”
Find out when Mother’s Day opens in theaters sometime around Mother’s Day of 2010.
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor