Friday, January 13, 2012

Vincent D'Onofrio chats about his new movie

MovieBuzzers, 1.13.12
by Melissa Hanson

Hearing Vincent D’Onofrio, many might not know who he is, but say, “Edgar suit,” “Private Pyle” or “Goren from Criminal Intent” and then you’ll see the “Oh! That guy!” face. He’s appeared in over 50 films, but he flies mostly under the radar to the general public taking on roles that are obscure and often go unrecognized. I got the chance to sit down with the actor-turned-director to talk about his newest film, Don’t Go In The Woods. He’s behind the camera this time after conceiving the story and shooting it in a mere 12 days on a budget, after post-production, of just around $100,000.

The film is about a young band of guys who go on a camping trip to concentrate on writing songs for their new album without the distractions of home like technology or girls. After walking endlessly through the woods, they settle on a spot and as they are just starting to get work done, a group of their friends (all girls), show up and (seemingly) disrupt their songwriting. Throughout the entire film, the characters break out in song much like those in the TV show Glee, while at the same time, a deranged killer is on the loose killing them one by one.

D’Onofrio conceived the story because he wanted to do an absurd movie; what he calls a “slasher musical, where everybody sings and everybody dies.” He gathered all the people he’s worked with over the years to shoot for as little money as he could and as quick as possible. “I really don’t feel like a director, I just feel like somebody that’s just trying to get something done and try to get away with it, without costing everyone too much money.”

Asking him about directing, he reveals that he gets shy about referring to himself as a director. He directed a short film, Five Minutes, Mr. Welles, which played at several film festivals in 2004 and 2005 and garnered much praise, but when speaking of directing Don’t Go In To The Woods, he acts as though it was not a big deal. “I’ve been around enough cameramen and crews in my life to have learned how to shoot things.” It’s obvious to me that he’s a natural, but he’s incredibly humble and gives all the credit to those in the cast and crew. He’s extremely confident when he talks about the story though, and it’s actually quite inspiring: “I completely commit no matter how absurd I know it’s going to turn out.”

In taking Don’t Go In The Woods on the road, he often screened at colleges and universities. You could see it gave him great joy to show the film to an audience of sometimes 300-500 students because of the impressive screening facilities and great sound systems. He describes people were yelling at the screen and after at the Q&A, students would comment that they couldn’t wait for characters to die or how annoying the characters were. “That’s why we made it,” he says proudly.

D’Onofrio goes on to say that he never critiques horror movies. “The thing about the horror genre, it’s an excuse to not critique.” He explains that there are exceptions, such as with epic directors, such as, of course, The Shining, which is not only horror, but a great film. He brings up an interesting point when speaking about the genre; something that I have never really understood or been able to pinpoint. “Unlike the comedy and dramatic genres and even sci-fi, horror is just horror. You know what you’re going to get going in. You know that you have to take a leap of faith. You know there’s going to be a bad guy, and he’s really not going to make a lot of sense.” I had never thought of it this way. He talks about how when he goes to the movies to see anything other than a horror film, he expects it to be a great movie. He holds it to a certain standard. But with horror, it’s an excuse to turn your mind off and just enjoy the ride. I am now beginning to see the appeal. I see so many movies that I do like to see one now and again that just simply entertains me. I don’t give an entire genre a free pass though.

He refers to the horror genre as being “non-acting.” He goes on to describe it as “flat” and “kids talking lines.” It’s something that he says is very different from what he does for a living, “so it’s very entertaining for me to watch.”

When I asked him what some of his favorite horror movies are, he immediately answers with the French film, High Tension (2003) by director Alexandre Aja. His endorsement: “It’s just so absurd. It makes no sense whatsoever.” This makes me hesitant, but I do believe I’ll check it out. He goes on to say that the acting is “very good” and of a higher caliber than those of horror in general. He loves all slasher movies, even the B-versions. He explains that with movies like Final Destination, it’s again, just entertainment. You can turn your mind off. I comment that I enjoyed Dead Alive. He adds, “I like movies like Dead Alive much more than the Hostel-type movies or the Saw movies. Those movies don’t interest me at all. I find them to be a bit offensive, and I don’t like the way they portray women in them. The context is just wrong.” I find his entire thought process to be quite fascinating. I have never really taken this much time to dissect these types of films.

When searching for the film online (it’s currently available VOD) the genres of “horror” and “musical” come up as descriptions. It’s certainly not for everyone, and I have to say, I didn’t enjoy the film at all, but after speaking with D’Onofrio, I understand more about the horror genre as a whole than I ever expected to and have gained much more respect for it.

Check out Alex’s full review of the film, here.

Don’t Go In the Woods stars Bo Boddie, Eric Bogosian, Gwynn Galitzer, Jorgen Jorgensen, Tim Lajcik, Soomin Lee, Kate O’Malley, Matt Sbeglia, Casey Smith, Nick Thorp, and Cassandra Walker. It is being released by Tribeca Films in NY on January 13th and will expand to other markets in early February. It is currently available on VOD.

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List of films in production.

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]

"In Dubious Battle" [2016]
An activist gets caught up in the labor movement for farm workers in California during the 1930s. Vincent....Al Anderson


A story about the early life of Tennessee Williams

Directed by James Franco
Vincent D'Onofrio, Jacob Loeb

"American Falls" - [TBA]

In a rural town in Southern Idaho, the Suzukis, a Japanese American family, run a small motel. One night they get a strange visitor who sports ‘city’ clothes who turns out to be the first African-American man that Toru Suzuki’s children have ever seen. Yoshiko takes it upon herself to solve the mystery about this man, especially when 2 police officers come knocking on their door.

Short film produced by Erika Hampson.
Vincent D'Onofrio as Detective Foster.

'Purgatory' [TBA]

'Purgatory' [TBA]
Tagline: In the Wild West a lot of blood was spilled... but it didn't go to waste. Vincent....Dallas Stoudenmire

"A Fall From Grace" [TBA]

Detective Michael Tabb knows the city of St. Louis inside and out. He has felt its true heart, as much as its dark underbelly: but he does not know who, in both the dark and light - is taking the lives of young girls.

Director: Jennifer Lynch
Producer/Writer ...Eric Wilkinson

Vincent D'Onofrio ....George Lawson (GRACE's father)
Tim Roth.......Detective Tabb

Filming in St Louis - TBA

"Supreme Ruler" [TBA]

A man campaigns to become the leader of the Buffalo lodge.

Vincent D'Onofrio as Hank Dory
Ron Livingston as Steve
Marcia Gay Harden as Nancy

"The Monster Next Door" [TBA]

"The Monster Next Door" - Comedy Horror

Executive Produced by Dennis Johnson, Melanie Mohlman Produced by Eric Wilkinson, David Michaels
Written by Jim Robbins
Directed by Jennifer Lynch

Cast: Vincent D'Onofrio, Bill Pullman, French Stewart, Bill Moseley

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]

'Down & Dirty Pictures' - [in Production - Filming TBA]
Vincent......Harvey Weinstein

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