Darren Lynn Bousman is nothing if not ambitious. He’s probably known for his writing and directing run on the Saw franchise, which he earned by writing a script that attracted attention, and his genre-blending horror-musical REPO! THE GENETIC OPERA. Now he’s back with a film steeped in mythology, whose universe started in a series of graphic novels that offers a completely unique take on the haunted-house subgenre. This latest project, ABATTOIR, will hit theaters, VOD, and digital HD on December 9th. Darren Lynn Bousman generously offered his time to talk to DAILY GRINDHOUSE a bit about ABATTOIR.
Daily Grindhouse: ABATTOIR started life as a series of graphic novels. What was the process like of adapting the graphic novels into a film?
Darren Lynn Bousman : They were never really adapted, I intended this to be more of a multi-media narrative using various forms of storytelling. The format is just one aspect, they all hearken back to a given mythology. Other stories return to a different place within the same shared universe. It’s sort of a narrative break. There are some people I know who don’t read comic books, and it’s important to tell it in different formats.
DG: In the film, you use a blend of different eras, with some old noir outfits and an older car, but you also feature new technology. What was your intent in creating this timeless aspect?
DLB: I respond to and love old technology. In my office I’m surrounded by typewriters and lamps from the twenties, but I use Ipads and cell phones, too. So in my own life, there’s that old and new blended together. It’s a stylistic choice more than anything. I wanted to create a hyper-realistic world. Something fantastical that recalled Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in a horror movie.
DG: How do you approach the horror in a film like ABATTOIR, which is more mythology-based and atmospheric, compared to how you approach the horror in the SAW movies?
DLB: In a movie like this, it’s not as much about the gore and violence, but more about creating the mood and atmosphere. I wanted this whole movie to be very different. There’s a difference in the pacing, and in the dialogue, which is overly poetic.
DG: What were some of the challenges of making this film independently, as opposed to working with a bigger budget on the Saw movies?
DLB: You can never have enough money or resources. Everything was done in a few days for a few dollars, and came down to the creativity of the crew and the resources you have. It meant driving around New Orleans, finding locations and modifying them.
DG: How did you craft the tone of the film during its different parts of mystery and horror?
DLB: It was a bit of a challenge, since the first part of the film is more like a hard-boiled detective movie. The second act was a challenge, but it helped that it didn’t have to be macabre or violent.
DG: What suggested to you the idea of a haunted house made up of rooms taken from other houses?
DLB: I was thinking, how do I not do the same idea for a haunted house movie. The character of Jebediah Crone is a collector, who assumes the rooms that have ghosts or spirits from the dead. What this really leads into is a franchise, since there are so many spin-offs and places the narrative can go from there.
DG: What was it like working with the case of the film, some of whom worked with you on THE DEVIL’S CARNIVAL?
DLB: The great thing about my career is I work with the people I want to work with, and the people I like. And when I bring new people in, like Joe Anderson, they become part of my repertoire. It’s a real family atmosphere on the East Coast, and I don’t think most people realize just how much fun we’re having.