An Interview with Neil Marshall, director of “The Descent”
BY KEVIN CARR
Neil Marshall is the director of the new horror film “The Descent.” Kevin talks with Neil about how the film came about, what inspired the work and possible news of a “Dog Soldiers” sequel. Excepts from the interview follow.
Hear the entire interview…
7M: WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS PROJECT?
I was looking to do something really scary after my first film. My first film, “Dog Soldiers,” had come out more as a black comedy than a straight horror film, and I still had this hankering to fulfill the need to do a really, really dark and bleak horror film in the vision of horror films I grew up with and loved, and still love. Things like “John Carpenter’s The Thing” and “Deliverance” and “Alien.”
7M: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE AN ALL FEMALE CAST?
Just to be different, really. I thought it was something that was contemporary. I thought it was something that was unique, certainly within this genre of brutal action horror film. I thought it’d never been done before. I thought it’d be interesting to try something fresh, and I thought why not in this day and age.
7M: ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE LEVEL OF GORE AND VIOLENCE?
Absolutely. I still don’t think there’s anything in there that’s totally gratuitous. Everything in there is kind of necessary to the plot to a degree and necessary to the progress of the characters. Certainly in terms of the Sarah character, driving her insane as to what she becomes and what she turns into.
7M: WERE YOU INTIMIDATED BY LAST YEAR’S RELEASE OF “THE CAVE”?
Oh definitely, because we found out “The Cave” was in production pretty much when we were in production. And we knew they had a much bigger budget than we did, but we just decided to knuckle down and get on with the job at hand. We had an idea that we were going to making very different kinds of film, primarily because we’d be very dark, and we didn’t expect that theirs would be.
We managed to get “The Descent” into the cinemas before “The Cave” in the U.K. We couldn’t get it out in the U.S. before “The Cave.” It just physically wasn’t possible. So Lion’s Gate wanted to hang on a while and give us as much distance from them as possible.
7M: HOW WAS THIS RECEIVED IN THE U.K. THEATRICAL?
It was received astonishingly well. Critically, it was one of the most critically acclaimed British films of the year, which is really amazing for what it is.
7M: DO YOU LIKE THE COMPARISONS IT’S GETTING TO “ALIEN” AND FILMS LIKE THAT?
Oh, absolutely. It’s one of the films that inspired me to be a filmmaker. I love “Alien.” I love all of Ridley Scott’s work. But “Alien” is just a sublime piece of work, and to be compared to that is quite an achievement.
7M: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SET IT IN AMERICA INSTEAD OF EUROPE?
It was really a combination of a few things. I needed an environment that was remote enough to be plausible for the crawlers to have existed without being discovered. I also needed an environment that was quite well known for its caves and caving. And Carolina and that area was quite known for that. But mainly because it’s a bit of an homage to “Deliverance,” which was a huge inspiration for this film.
7M: HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT CASTING THE CRAWLERS?
I cast a couple friends of mine who have a theatrical company, and they do very, very physical theatre. I wanted that sense of physicality about them, but I also wanted them to act a real performance through their make-up. And on the whole, they’re really only wearing prosthetics on their faces, and everything else is just them. It’s just body paint and K-Y jelly. I wanted that kind of raw physicality about them.
7M: HOW MANY GALLONS OF FAKE BLOOD WERE USED?
It was something ridiculous. I think there was something like two or three hundred gallons of blood. It was a ridiculous amount. And I was literally throwing buckets of it around the set.