How the director of 'Some Kind of Hate' turned a Disney star into a slasher villain
The recent death of Wes Craven prompted horror fans to consider the late Master of Horror’s remarkably fertile imagination — and how few genuinely memorable horror monsters have been dreamed up by filmmakers since the heyday of Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, and, of course, the Craven-created dream-stalker Freddy Krueger.
One man attempting to do something about that is director Adam Egypt Mortimer, whose new horror film, Some Kind of Hate, opens in cinemas (and via VOD and iTunes) on Sept. 18. Written by Mortimer and Brian DeLeeuw, the film stars Ronen Rubinstein and Grace Phipps as teenagers who have been sent to a remote camp for troubled kids and Sierra McCormick as an undead ghoul named Moira Karp hell-bent on killing pretty much everyone she can get her hands on — for reasons we won’t spoil here.
“We were definitely inspired to do a film in the genre of A Nightmare on Elm Street or Candyman,” says Mortimer. “We wanted to create a new kind of slasher villain, but we also wanted to make a movie that felt like an indie drama, to the point where maybe you would even forget it was a horror movie. Then people start dying in horrific ways and it kind of switches gears. If that works, we’re really kicking your ass, which is what you want out of a horror movie.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where did you shoot the movie?
ADAM EGYPT MORTIMER: It was actually a functioning camp, outside Los Angeles. While we were shooting, there were young kids at camp that would sometimes come by and see us doing these horrible bloody things. The actress who plays our slasher villain, Sierra McCormick, has a lot of fans from her days on Disney TV shows. So, even though she looks like a corpse and she’s covered in blood and her throat is slashed open, all of these 10-year-old kids would be lining up to get her autograph. I don’t know what’s going to happen to these children when they see the film.
In fact, you have two Disney Channel stars in the film, correct? I’m afraid I’m not much of a Disney Channel watcher, so you’ll have to fill me in.
Yeah, so Sierra was on a TV show called A.N.T. Farm that was very popular among the Disney TV watchers. I also was not familiar with it. I cast her based on meeting her, because she was unbelievably brilliant. Then, Grace Phipps is our other female lead and she’s popular from the Teen Beach movies. She also has all of these tween girl fans who love her from these movies where she sings and dances.
Were they keen to show a different side of themselves onscreen?
Absolutely. I think all of the people that were in the movie were in the movie because they understood what we were trying to do in the script, which was to do something very violent and very hardcore but — as I would always say to all of them — we take the emotional violence as seriously as the physical violence. So, for every time someone dies in a spectacular slasher way, there’s also a moment of intense emotional pain and agony. I think all of these young actors were really attracted to the idea of doing that. And these actresses that come out of Disney always want to find the next step to grow and to become something else.
Do you think they’ll ever work at Disney again after this?
I can’t comment on that. I don’t want to jinx anybody’s lovely careers! But the things that you see them do in this movie are pretty extreme. I never want to spoil these moments, but if you ever wanted to see these Disney stars interacting with a razor blade in ways that you were not sure were possible, this is your film.
Cutting does play a big part in this film. Were you concerned about glamorizing the subject?
Okay, we’re having fun talking about [the movie]. The reality about the film is that we do take it quite seriously. After we finished writing it, and I was getting ready to direct it, I had in my head the idea of the perfect audience member, which is a 17-year-old girl who loves horror movies, who has experienced in her life already some kind of emotional abuse, or difficulty in her family, or confusion about her own body, who would therefore recognize in the intense emotional landscape of the film something that she could connect to and feel less alone.
We are absolutely not glamorizing cutting. I mean, nothing but bad things happen to the people in this film. It would be hard to see it as a glamorization. Ultimately, the goal for me is for people to feel less alone.
Tell us about your leading man.
Ronen Rubinstein had been working with our producer Dallas Sonnier in a film called Condemned, so Dallas was really excited about him. I talked to him quite a bit, and he had had in his life sort of a hardcore bullying experience when he was in high school that seemed to have really marked him. So I knew that he would be able to get into it. It’s funny, I think when we wrote it, everyone imagined the character as a very scrawny little kid. And Ronen is kind of big — bigger than that anyway — and the advantage of that is, you get the sense of a guy that’s too broken inside to know how to control his body.
We really just beat the s–t out of him. I mean, there are so many scenes in this movie where he’s getting his face smacked in a puddle of milk in the cement, or kicked, and punched, and running around. And lighting himself on fire! He lights himself on fire! I mean, this is a super-low budget movie. But I really insisted that we used real practical fire effects.
You can see McCormick, Phipps, and Rubinstein (on fire!) in the trailer for Some Kind of Hate, below.