Who on earth would set a high-octane, high-body count, bulletfest of an action movie in a single room? The answer is director Joe Lynch. The filmmaker’s new film, Everly, stars Salma Hayek as a prostitute who must kill a small army of assassins sent to murder her at an apartment by a yakuza crime boss. At Christmas.
The director explains that his intent with the film was to combine two cinematic flavors few people might have considered placing together: Action classic Die Hard and the work of the avant-garde Dogme 95 filmmaking collective, whose leading lights include one Lars von Trier. “Die Hard is one of my favorite movies—I remember it being my Christmas movie every year,” says Lynch. “Die Hard was such an archetype for this movie: It’s Die Hard-in-a-room!
“Then, my manager-slash-producing partner Luke Rivett and I were talking about Lars von Trier, and how much we loved parameters in cinema, where the filmmaker gives himself restrictions. I said, ‘What if the camera literally was not allowed to leave [the room]?'”
The unique nature of the Everly screenplay, which was written by Yale Hannon, helped it make the Black List of hot but unproduced scripts in 2010, and Lynch shot the film itself in Serbia last year. “It was challenging,” he says. “At the same time it was so liberating because it forced us to find new ways to execute all these scenes. This whole movie is a testament to pure cinema in one form or another. It’s trying to take every single tool that I have to tell the story and keep the audience engaged, even though I was stuck technically between four walls. Because obviously you can’t have a whole action movie take place in one room for 90 minutes without doing some sort of visual histrionics.”
And what did Lynch’s lead actress think of the filmmaker’s self-restricting shenanigans? “Even Salma was like, ‘Okay, so now you’re going to get the reverse shot on me?'” says the director. “I’d be like, ‘No, I’m not. Those are the rules!’ But she was such a champion of that. Because she knew that we were trying to do something different.” Everybody always says when they go into a movie—especially a genre film—’We’re trying to do something different.’ But we were actually really trying, and I feel like it was a success.”
Everly will receive its world premiere this Saturday at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Tx. Lynch has a long history with the annual genre movie festival having screened his first film, horror sequel Wrong Turn 2, at the event back in 2007. “There’s no better term—it was fantastic,” the director says. “It was one of the greatest times I’ve ever had at a film festival. It made me rethink my idea of what a film festival is. And throughout the years I’ve always been like, I’ve got to go back, I’ve got to go back, I need to have a movie that goes back! I think there was a little bit of me that, when I was [prepping] Everly, was going, ‘I need a movie so crazy that they’d be willing to show it!’ I cannot wait to go back.”
In addition to unveiling Everly, Lynch will also spar—both vocally and literally—with actor and editor Josh Ethier (Almost Human) in one of the festival’s legendary debate-fights. The resolution, which Lynch will be supporting, is that “samurais are infinitely more badass than cowboys” in cinema. “My premiere happens, and then I believe 90 minutes later I’m racing over to go box,” explains Lynch. “So adrenalin is going to be very very high on Saturday night. I know I’m going to the home of the cowboy to debate this topic, so I’m already under the gun, so to speak. But I feel, at least when we have been talking about it on social networks, people have been like, ‘Oh, that’s a tough one!’ I feel it’s going to be a good debate and then the fight itself is going to be a bloody mess. Josh is a bit of a bruiser—but you haven’t seen Joe Lynch in the ring yet!”