EXCL: Rider Strong Talks Darkening Sky


Out of the woods and in an alien conspiracy

In most films concerning extraterrestrial threats, the protagonists are always looking to the stars. The upcoming Darkening Sky, however, asks its hero to look inward.

As star Rider Strong explains, “These movies are usually about somebody investigating something because they want to prove aliens exist. With my character [Eric Rainer], he’s literally writing his thesis on the fact that it’s all myth. But he’s forced into it and goes deeper and deeper against his will. It harks back to X-Files and I’m the ultimate skeptic. I feel most of these movies are about having to prove [UFOs exist], because this starts happening, he starts questioning his own sanity.”

Darkening Sky rolled cameras at the end of the summer in and around Los Angeles with FX artist-cum-director Victor Bornia at the helm. Recently, Shock readers got a glimpse at the trailer (here) which gave them a first look at Strong as Rainer, a role the Cabin Fever star admits is a welcome reprieve from some of the bloody horror fare he’s been doing.

“I’ve been in this low budget horror world,” he chuckles, “and I was saying no to every small horror film that came along. And then this came up and my manager was like, it’s not a horror film, it’s scary but it’s not a straight slasher film or anything. I read it and thought it was clever and the character hit close to home in that he’s a total skeptic and that’s totally me.”

In the film, Strong’s Rainer find himself looking for his missing girlfriend; quickly, he’s immersed in the world of shape-shifting extraterrestrials, implanted objects, organ harvesting and humans possessed by a malevolent alien presence, much to his disbelief. “It’s a very simple story, basically three days of this guy’s life. It’s about paranoia, conspiracies and not knowing who you can trust. I’m not running around shooting aliens. It’s very low-key and it almost becomes a romance story between my character and this girl he meets.”

He praises Bornia’s script for its mystery angle. And when the actor and director first met to talk about the material, they found they were on the same page when it came to the film’s tone. “I love Jacob’s Ladder and in one of the first meetings with Victor that was one of the first films out of his mouth. How much of it is happening inside this guy’s head? How much is in reality? Who could you trust when you’re going insane? That’s what appealed to me, and the fact that it wasn’t me running through the woods getting killed with an axe.”

Ah, but Darkening Sky doesn’t keep Strong totally blood-free. “There was one night where I was holding chicken hearts in my hand – I don’t want to give any more details away. That’s about as gross as it has gotten for me on a film set. They didn’t have makeup effect intestines, so they threw chicken hearts in my hand which was a little gross.”

Bornia shot Darkening Sky on a 12-day schedule with co-stars Danielle Keaton, Danica Stewart, Charley Rossman and Daniel Kirschner. Rider says he was impressed with the director’s use of not only the Red Camera but his ingenuity when it came to the effects-side of the production. “Victor does visual effects and stuff so it was cool, like we shot in this abandoned barn and in the script it says it’s a radio tower and he’s like, ‘We’re going to put the tower in later. Shit like that, he’s just one of those guys who can do it all himself. In a way, even though this was a much lower budget than Cabin Fever, it was a more gag-driven movie because there was so much he could do in post.”

Darkening Sky is due sometime in 2010. You can catch Rider in a brief role in Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever when it comes to DVD in February.

Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor