“HUNTING SEASON IS NOW OPEN”. Three deadly pursuers. One terrified woman… but the game is about to change.
Watch the film here.
A horror entertainment from Nova Scotia, Canada, GAME is an award-winning short film written & directed by Josh MacDonald (THE CORRIDOR), produced by Angus Swantee (TORTUROUS), edited by Jason Eisener (HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN) and shot by Jeff Wheaton (TREEVENGE, many more). Stars Andrea Lee Norwood (COPPERHEAD, BUNKER 6) as The Businesswoman, Pasha Ebrahimi (HWAS) as Prior, Michael McPhee (CLOUDBURST) as Jubal and Glen Matthews (ROLLER TOWN) as Gabe. We caught up with writer-director Josh MacDonald to find out more about the film.
Josh told us that the film originally came from his desire to turn his hand to directing, after working as a writer for a number of years. “Man, I just wanted to direct something! Since I’m mostly known as a writer (if I’m known at all), I was inspired to direct GAME as a way to exercise my visual eye: to try to “direct a director’s piece, ” instead of just framing up a “writer’s piece,” y’know? Before GAME, I’d written a horror feature called THE CORRIDOR (IFC Midnight) which– for better or for worse– was considered pretty heady, pretty talky. With GAME, I just wanted to celebrate the other side of my genre love: the Midnight Monster Mash”
Game is certainly a love letter to the genre, but Josh told us that many of the concepts in the film came from budgetary restraints. The hillbillies were a fairly cheap starting point, and also gave the team the opportunity to take a horror situation we are all familiar with and tip it on it’s head. The result is a film which challenges pre-conceived ideas about gender and horror.
Josh wanted to cram all sorts of ideas into the film’s short time period.
“I wanted to play with slow-mo, stage foot-chases, wrangle bugs and animals, work with practical makeup FX and gore FX, do in-camera trickery, post-production trickery, fight scenes in water, chucking axes right into the camera lens like a $3 version of The Last of the Mohicans, and also try to shoot as much of this thing at magic hour as I humanly could.”
He explained that he owes the success of the film to his crew, who worked incredibly hard on his first foray into directing. The film was shot at Grand Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada, on land which had been in his extended family for generations. During shooting, his parents and aunts & uncles donated their cottages or their homes as base camps, provided makeup FX, and cooked meals for the crew. “I owe my film-family and my real family a whole lotta favours after GAME” Josh told us, “and we really did make this “big little movie” all together”.
When Game was first conceived, Josh wanted to recreate the raw atmosphere of 1970s 16mm horror films, such as I Spit on Your Grave and The Last House on the Left. He also wanted to pay tribute to the monster movies of the 1950s and 80s, with elements of a cartoon vibe inspired by old EC comic books and Tales from the Crypt.
With his previous horror film The Corridor, Josh had created a contemplative, quieter film which he describes as a “winter-set horror movie that started out like a Larry Fessenden film, but then metamorphosed into a male-paranoia, claustrophobia flick indebted to John Carpenter’s THE THING.”
The film drew comparisons to Stephen King’s (or Larry Kasdan’s) DREAMCATCHER, although Josh had been working on the first draft since before the novel hit shelves. Issues surrounding making a feature film in Canada promoted him to question whether to make the film, but he ultimately decided to go ahead, explaining “we thought our movie remained more character-forward than DREAMCATCHER’s eventual shit-weasels and alien invasion scenarios, and so we thought ours was still worth making”
He cites Stephen King as a major influence on his work, growing up as a child of the 80s, DANSE MACBRE become his most treasured book. He sets out to tell horror stories set in his own backyard, and believes that King’s influence would always be there, even sub-consciously since “Nova Scotia sits just above Maine, and our geography and our towns, our people and our oddities resemble one another.”
“Nothing about GAME is meant to be taken too seriously, but maybe that the “woman in peril” isn’t actually. And that hillbillies can get scared, too” – Josh MacDonald
We asked Josh about some of the challenges he faced in making the film. He explained the the whole process was challenging, but that the challenges made it worth doing. He did tell us about one particular issue that may strike fear into the hearts of any arachnophobics reading.
“A funny tough part, though, was “animal-wrangling” up a spider in late October. It was harder to find than we’d thought. On the day, we rummaged around in woodpiles for quite a while before our awesome PA Evan Jobb found the spider that we ended up using. This “hero” spider looked so bulbous and engorged, though, that we weren’t sure if maybe it was pregnant or something, and we were nervous that when we placed in on our lead actress– Andrea Lee Norwood–‘s face it might panic and give birth to a thousand babies. Would’ve been awesome for the shot, but would’ve put Andrea in an asylum, and then we wouldn’t have been able to finish the film. Andrea was a super-hero with everything we threw at her, but that might have been the brain-breaker”
As is Popcorn Horror tradition, we asked Josh about his zombie survival plans, and he shared his wisdom
“Thriller Dance, always and forever. If you can get those zombies dancing they get totally distracted, and then you can just, like, go about your other business, all footloose and fancy-free.”