We are just a couple of days away from Deathcember’s UK premiere at Grimmfest Xmas Horror Nights, and Bloody Flicks had the opportunity to talk to director John Cook Lynch about his segment Cracker. Check out what the British filmmaker had to say below –
What can you tell us about your Deathcember segment Cracker?
On the surface Cracker is about a family partaking in the quintessential British festive passtime of pulling Christmas crackers. But as the film progresses it becomes clear there is a dark and sinister subtext to the game which builds to an outrageous climax. Oh, also did I mention that it’s all set in the 1950s?
What sort of remit were you given when writing Cracker?
Deathcember was a pretty unique project for me to be a part of, in that beyond the conditions that we make a Christmas themed horror or genre film no longer than 5 minutes, directors were given a lot of creative freedom. We submitted our scripts and treatments to Producers Dom, Ivo and Frank before the project was signed off and funded of course, but the level of trust placed in us by them was pretty unprecedented. Of course with that creative freedom comes a level of responsibility so I was always thinking about how Cracker could fulfill the producers’ vision for the project and interact with the other shorts.
We’ve heard the film has a Fallout vibe, was this the tone you wanted to strike?
Haha! A “Fallout vibe” is actually something that has been mentioned a few times not just about Cracker but also about my 2016 film, Eddie. I should mention that Cracker does have a sci-fi element to it, so that mixed with the 1950s setting is possibly why people make that connection.
Whilst I have played and do enjoy the Fallout games, they weren’t a direct influence on Cracker. I was more trying to channel the suspense of Alfred Hitchcock mixed with the colourful melodrama of Douglas Sirk, albeit with a sci-fi twist. I think it would be fair to say that I do share a lot of the same original inspirations as the makers of those games, I’m talking about sci-fi serials like The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits as well as a fascination with that iconic mid-century vision of “the future”. I’m also aware that Amazon and Kilter Films are developing a big budget Fallout TV series, so if Deathcember fans want to lobby them to hire me for that then I won’t object!
Tell us about assembling the cast for Cracker?
I knew straight away that I wanted Johnny Vivash to play the father in Cracker. He was the lead in my film Eddie and was a joy to work with so we’d been looking for a reason to work together again. He’s also a big horror nut and immediately understood the surreal, intense style I was going for. I met Leila Wetton, who plays the daughter, previously at a film festival and loved her performance in the film Litterbugs so it was great to have her involved.
It was the first time I’d worked with Amy Newton, and Jennie Lathan, who play the mother and grandmother and they were fantastic. I tend to surround myself with actors and collaborators that share my dark sense of humour and who aren’t afraid to try things out and bring something new to my scripts.
Oh and for anyone that has seen Eddie, the TV announcer in Cracker is played by Alan Mandel aka Eddie himself!
Were you surprised that there hasn’t been a Christmas horror anthology like Deathcember before?
I was surprised when Dom and Ivo first approached me with the idea that it hadn’t been done before. It really is a killer concept, provided you get an audience that approaches Deathcember the way it’s intended, an advent calendar of bite sized horror. I think the fact that, ultimately, to get distributed the film has to be packaged more like a regular anthology film perhaps shows you why it hadn’t been done before. I know the producers agonised over how to cram 24+ stories and ideas into a single movie “sitting” and I’m sure it was a mammoth task to wrangle that many international directors!
What was your initial feedback from the Deathcember after submitting the film?
I’ve just looked back at the email I got back from Dominic and he said “Seriously, John, this is nothing short of BRILLIANT”, so I think they were pretty happy, which is good because by that point I had spent all of my budget.
What does it mean for you to have film as part of such a big project?
As a relatively unknown filmmaker without a feature under my belt, it’s amazing to have my name up there on the billing with the likes of Ruggero Deodato or Lucky McKee. However, it wasn’t until after travelling to the cast and crew premiere of the final film in Frankfurt that I realised another benefit of being involved. Since that get together I’ve really started to feel part of a small community of filmmakers with similar interests and goals which I’ve never really had before.
Getting to know awesome filmmakers like Steve De Roover, Jürgen Kling, Annika Marx and Zach Shildwachter has really been the biggest upside of being part of the project.
Have you seen the finished film yet?
Indeed I have. Much like previous interviewees, I was present for the combined “film screening / sauna-night” that was the cast and crew premiere in Frankfurt. I also had the pleasure of being at the Slash Christmas screening in Vienna, which was a really beautiful experience. The audience there really entered into the spirit of it and there’s nothing quite like listening to the sound of a full cinema “reacting” to moments of your film. That’s something I’ve missed dearly in 2020.
UK horror fans will get the chance to see Deathcember at Grimmfest Xmas Horror Nights, is this a proud moment for a Brit filmmaker?
Certainly. It’s taken us a long time to finally get a premiere on home soil. I’m really excited to see what British audiences make of the anthology and Cracker. It turns out that outside of the UK, Crackers aren’t really much of a thing, so it’ll be especially nice to finally have an audience that can watch the film from a ‘knowing’ point of view of having been around the Christmas dinner table pulling crackers themselves, though hopefully not with the same end result!
Deathcember has its UK premiere at Grimmfest Xmas Horror Nights