ABOUT THE FILM
Hell To Pay is an occult thriller based on the classic story of "Faust".
Logline: When a law student summons a demon to cure his brain tumor, he must fight to protect the lives and souls of his friends from a ruthless enemy that knows their darkest secrets.
The film subverts many elements of the horror genre to tell a deeper, character driven story. Thematically, it asks questions about the dark secrets that everyone carries, the damage they can do to us and those around us, and how far we would go to save ourselves if our lives were truly at stake.
Director Mike Jackson is an Emmy-nominated editor, vfx guru, and has directed numerous award-winning short films and music videos. Producer Boris Ivanov have also won a number of awards, and his films have premiered at major festivals including Sundance. The script for Hell to Pay won second place in the International Horror and Sci-Fi Screenplay Competition.
RT 105 minutes
Genre: Occult Thriller
Keywords: Deal With The Devil/Lost Souls/Horror/Redemption
Stars: Malcolm McDowell
Production: Canada / British Columbia
Production Company: Interfilm Productions Inc.
Distribution: Anchor Bay Canada (VOD/DVD)
Hell to Pay is an "Occult Thriller". It builds on the elements of a classic genre film - a collection of young people in a cabin in the woods - but it's really a psychological thriller, delving into the slow, burning damage that people can do to themselves and each other.
The cottage in Hell to Pay is a pressure cooker, and Asmodeus uses that pressure, and his own knowledge of everyone's darkest secrets, to break the people who summoned him. Thematically, the film is about the dark secrets that everyone carries, the damage it does to us, and the damage it can do to the ones we love.
Our five protagonists are trapped in a room with the Devil, who gradually uses their own secrets to tear them apart. There is incredible energy in a 'locked room', from Hitchcock's Rope or Lumet's Twelve Angry Men, to Kubrick's The Shining, Vincenzo Natali's Cube, or the first Saw film.
Hell to Pay contains big scares, gorey violence and laughs, but at its core, it's focussed on creeping tension. Like Brian Fuller's amazing Hannibal series, the characters dig into each other on a purely psychological level, breaking each other apart piece-by-piece.This is where the real 'juice' of the piece is, and played correctly, it will make the thrills all the more thrilling. The characters become more than simple horror tropes, and when the pressure cooker blows, we FEEL it as an audience.
ARTFUL AND TEXTURED
Hell to Pay draws more on the best classic horror films and thrillers than it does on the slasher and torture-porn of current cinema. Movies like The Excorcist, Don't Look Now, Angel Heart, or Jacob's Ladder form the backbone of the film's style, where character and mood become claustrophobic and paranoid. The audience shouldn't ever be asking themselves "Who is the monster going to kill next?" They should be asking "Who is going to betray who, and how are they going to get out of this?"
Artistically, the closest thing that currently exists to the cinematic style of Hell to Pay is the Hannibal series. Like that show, there are more than enough scares and gorey deaths (burned Claire should be especially memorable), but the focus remains laser sharp on the disturbing psychology of the villain (in our case Asmodeus) and his battle of wits with the protagonist (Tyler). Hannibal isn't afraid to be creative, with majestic dream sequences, creepy hallucinations, and edgy editing. We won't shy away from that either.
The screen language of Hell to Pay will always feel cinematic, never shakey-cam, faux reality, or found footage in quality. It will be lush and textured, and above all, stylish.
The cinematography of Hell to Pay will draw heavily from Film Noire. The basement will be built up in layers of light and shadow, with cold shafts of light and deep shadows. Most colors will be desaturated, but reds (blood) and greens (the forest outside) will pop.
THE BUZZING OF INSECTS
Sound will be a big part of Hell to Pay's creeping tension. Taking another page from Hannibal, or the work of David Lynch, it will build more on edgy, creepy sounds than a melodic score. Buzzing insects, rolling and thrumming bass sounds, hi-pitched whines that tickle at the back of the brain. It will form a seething, creepy background that unravels along with the characters.
Foreground pillars will often occlude the action in the basement, forming visual lines and barriers between characters. Cross shapes and circles will often be formed by the layouts of objects and lighting in the scene, giving a constant yet subtle presence of the devilish and the divine.
As the story progresses, we'll use longer and longer lenses to shrink the space in the basement. At the beginning it will seem quite open and roomy, and by the end it will be oppressively claustrophobic.
SCARY BUT FUN
Even though the core of Hell to Pay's mood will be an artful, creeping dread, it still has a healthy dose of humour and action. Genre films are at their best when they can relieve the tension with laughs, and Hell to Pay will never push so far into the dark areas of the story that it loses its sense of fun. But like the best of Joss Whedon's work, that fun comes from clever characters saying amusing things, and will always enhance the existing drama, never undercut it.
Similarly, gore will sit on a fine but important line. It should be enough to make the audience scream "Oooooohhh!" and squirm uncomfortably, but it should never feel gratuitous, or hold on moments so long that people feel they have to cover their eyes because it's too gross and horrible. A lot of the violence will be implied or half-glimpsed, so it flows along WITH the story, rather than distracts from it.
ELEVATING THE GENRE
To sum it all up, I want Hell to Pay to be a suspensefull occult film for grownups and young people alike. The thrills and chills of a fun genre movie, with the artfull production values and rich themes of a European arthouse thriller. Hell to Pay is an occult thriller that should appeal to both young hard-core horror fans, and older genre audiences who want more depth to their movie fare.
CONCEPT ART / STORYBOARDS
ABOUT THE TEAM
Director: MIKE JACKSON
Mike Jackson is an award-winning director, vfx guru and Emmy-nominated editor. He has directed over two dozen shorts and music videos, many of which have won or been nominated for awards.
Most recently Mike edited Dead Rising: Watchtower for Legendary Pictures, and the pilot MTX! for DisneyXD. He has cut a number of award-winning shows and documentaries for various networks, including the Iraq War documentary Beyond Top Secret (CBS/History Channel), which was nominated for Emmys for Outstanding Editing and Outstanding Research, an episode of Dan Rather Reports, and the documentary feature Ecopirate: The Story of Paul Watson.
Mike's short films and music videos have played in dozens of festivals around the world, and have won or been nominated for awards, including two LEO nominations (BC film awards), a Golden Sheaf Award nomination, and wins in the Hot Shot Shorts competition, Bloodshots 48-hour Horror Film Competition (including wins for Best Picture, Best Acting and Best Editing), Reel-Fast 48 Hour Film Competition (winning the CBC ZED People's Choice Award and Best Ensemble Performance), Sea to Sky Film Festival (Best Comedy), and many others.
His screenplay for Hell to Pay (with frequent collaborator Sam Dulmage), won second place in the International Horror and Sci-fi Screenplay Competition.
Mike also has extensive experience doing visual effects, and has been nominated for a LEO award for his work. He has done VFX sequences for Dead Rising: Watchtower, the TV series Jake 2.0 and Dead Zone, the Google webseries Ingress Obsessed (directed by Zach Lipovsky and Adam Stein), and a number of shorts and music videos by John Albanis (co-producer on Hot Tub Time Machine and Hector and the Search for Happiness).
Before becoming a director and editor, Mike worked in animated television, as a storyboard artist on MTV's Aeon Flux, and a production designer for season III of ReBoot.
Producer: BORIS IVANOV
Boris Ivanov is Interfilm’s “hands on” producer in charge of development, production and marketing. His producing credits include Family Portrait in Black and White, which premiered at Sundance and won Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs, and Chicago International Film Festival’s hit Love Translated. He’s produced a number of TV documentaries including True Love or Marriage Fraud?, Fatherhood Dreams, From Russia, For Love, and Moscow Freestyle.
Other credits include theatrical recreations director/producer for CBS/History channel’s Beyond Top Secret, which has earned two News and Documentary Emmy® nominations; as well as theatrical recreations director/producer for the Investigation Discovery’s series Deranged , three episodes of WeTV’s Secret Lives of Women , a special on Jaycee Duggard: Kidnapped for 18 years for TLC and two specials for TLC: Natalie Holloway: Lost in Paradise and TV Murders .
When not directing or producing his own projects, Boris lends his expertise to the Canadian service production industry, including being a Unit Manager on Season III of Battlestar Galactica and as a Production Coordinator on a dozen features and TV films.
Casting: ANN FORRY
Ann Forry has worked in the film and television industry for over twenty years. She has cast over forty feature films, short films, movies for television and hundreds of TV commercials, as well as casting many music videos and print ads. As a member of both The Casting Society of America and The Casting Directors Society of Canada, Ann's mission is to discover new talent and take the seasoned actor to the next level.
DOP: NAIM SUTHERLAND
Music: JEFF TYMOSCHUK