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Writer talks Grimmfest selection The Price We Pay

Ahead of its screening at Grimmfest 2022, we caught up with writer Christopher Jolley to talk all about action thriller The Price We Pay.

What can you tell us about crafting the story of The Price We Pay?

I basically, pitched a version of The Price we Pay, which I then wrote called ‘Hideout’. It went through various versions and iterations, until Ryuhei and I started working together in really shaping the story of the film we have now. I am a huge fan of 70s American cinema, where characters were deeply flawed people, where motivations are never quite clear and you are often thrown headfirst into a story. In addition to that, both Ryuhei and I have a deep love for 70s and 80s American horror, and it was a great opportunity to tap that vein of films such as The Hills have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The primary focus was always going to be the character of Grace (played by Gigi Zumbado, who is just fantastic in this) and the nightmare scenario she finds herself plunged into when she is taken hostage by these robbers (lead by Emile Hirsch and Stephen Dorff). 

As always there are the various plot mechanics and beats that you have to hit, and I am a firm believer in the power of collaboration and Ryuhei was vital in putting this film together and really making it work. There are of course the fun elements of getting those all important horror beats in there and a gleefulness in coming up with some unique kills.

I get the impression this could be an anti-hero story, would that be right?

You may have hit the nail on the head there. Circling back to those films of the 70s. I love films that centre on characters who are absolutely not perfect (after all, who is?). But even if you go back further, looking at say Rick in Casablanca or Ethan Edwards in The Searchers, I think audiences find anti-heroes so fascinating, because they feel real, they really represent the world we live in. 

While on the subject of character, Grace (Gigi Zumbado) is an almost classic hero, again flawed, but when writing the script, characters such as Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor were never far from my mind.

Tell us about collaborating with Ryuhei Kitamura?

Firstly, as a fan of his work, I was and am still on Cloud 9! The opportunity to work with him was just too good to be true and it was made even sweeter by the fact that Ryuhei is an absolutely fantastic guy and top bloke. Ryuhei was key in helping to shape the story and this is why, in my opinion I think it’s vital that writers and directors work together during that development stage. Ryuhei starts to formulate his vision for the movie and we would work together to ensure that the script would match that vision as close as possible. Ryuhei was vital in how the relationships of the characters were formed and in specific plot points that would pay off later on. But it was a blast all the way through working with him.

I take it we can expect plenty of violence and gore from The Price We Pay?

Now that would be telling! But I have a feeling gorehounds will be suitably satisfied!

This is quite an impressive cast, how well do actors such as Vernon Wells, Stephen Dorff and Emile Hirsch fit the characters you created?

Funnily enough, when you first start writing, especially scripts, you kind of have an idea of the look of a character and how they behave, so when actors first start to come onboard, it’s always exciting. They fit the characters perfectly, funnily enough Emile Hirsh really does some stuff with his character that wasn’t on the page, but absolutely worked. 

You have been super busy with Whisper, The Price We Pay and Remember Me, were any of these projects held up by the pandemic?

It certainly looks it! Ironically there is a story there, so Whisper and Remember Me were shot in 2017 and 2018 respectively. But these were super-low budget productions. Made on the fly, which meant the editing and post-production was a bit longer on both of those. There was then the seeking distributor stage and then finally being picked up for release. It was effectively a waiting game for both of those to come out and it was just a total fluke that they both received releases within the space of a couple of months! 

The Price we Pay was shot in late 2021, so it’s been waiting for the post to finish and so forth and then it’s now ready for the world.

How would you describe The Price We Pay to someone going in cold?

The Price we Pay is a full on hardcore horror movie, framed round a fantastic female lead. If you want a tough, nasty little horror flick then The Price we Pay is the movie for you.

The Price We Pay screens at Grimmfest 2022.

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