Now, I don't normally care for serial killer, hack and slash type movies. I call them "torture porn"-- which should give you an idea as to how I feel about them. But, this movie was different. The directing style and great acting provokes a lot of strong emotions in the viewer, and you'll find yourself disgusted and yet unable to stop watching.
Nothing is exactly what it seems, and #19 keeps you wondering what is going to happen, right up until the very end.
The movie starts with a young woman driving down a lonely stretch of rode. Her car breaks down, and a man in a scary van gets out to help her. But the man isn't out to help her, he aims to abduct her and rape her. In another location, the killer is preparing to butcher two women that he abducted, and place their vital organs and other edible body parts into a numbered bucket. The poor woman with the broken down car fights back, and you'll never guess what happens next...
Watch #19 on YouTube here
The following is my interview with the director of #19, Tommy Merry.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your short film?
A: Number 19 was original written by a fantastic author named Curt Pennington. I bought the rights to the screenplay from him and kept Curt on as a co-author during the re-write.
Q: How long did it take to shoot it?
A: Principal photography was a solid 10-12 hrs, for 7 days on set. A major looooong week.
Q: Where was the film shot?
A: We built the set from scratch in an old laundromat that was being demolished. We spent several months working on it, tearing out walls and carpeting, adding lighting, faux painting the sheet-rock walls to look like basement-cement. About $400, of the films total $6000 budget went into the basement room set. I would go there every night after work and tweak on it till it looked just like I wanted.
Q: Did you have specific imagery in mind when you went to film the scenes?
A: Absolutely. When I'm working on a film I have every moment of every scene mapped out. There is still some room for improvisation with the actors, but pretty much every details is planned out. Colors, mood, objective of every scene, etc.
Q: Did you purposefully have the killer wear blue colored rubber gloves as a representation of his cold character?
A: The over all color of the basement killer's set was designed to look cold. But as to the gloves, it was bright green, yellow or blue at the Hardware store... so I chose Blue! *he laughs*
Q: I've never seen a nail gun that big. Is that a rivet gun?
A: No, it's an actual heavy-duty nail gun. It's a fairly scary tool in real life.
Q: Could you explain why he nails the girls to wood on the vivisection table? It's not quite clear to me as to why someone would go through all of that trouble when they could just slit their victim's throats and be done with it.
A: Good question! There is a lot of back-story to the killer's motives and M.O. that we didn't have time for in the short film format. He's a chef, a culinary cannibal, and not purposefully torturing them, so he spends a lot of time tenderizing and preparing the meat. I wanted to use the nail gun, and in the original screenplay the killer used a wooden tabled. We had a real autopsy table donated to us for the film, and of course nails won't pierce it. So we came up with the wood blocks for the hands and the feet of the victims, then attached these pieces to the stainless steel table.
Q: Did you choose to have the two killers of the film wear articles of clothing with words on them to provide a visual clue or to throw off the viewers expectations as to what would occur? (I personally thought that it signified that the characters were foils of each other, and boy was I wrong.)
A: In a way. We wanted the audience to be guessing if perhaps they were the same person, also temporally we wanted the audience to ponder whether the events were taking place in real-time simultaneously, or past-to-present flashbacks. It was very difficult to film that long of a project without showing either actors' face until the very end. Both of them (Matthew Magennis [the basement killer] and Patrick G. Donahue [the roadside killer] did a superb job of acting without their faces/eyes for 99% of the film, and still managed to speak volumes with their acting, voice and and body movements. So back to your question, in the screenplay it had said the basement killer wears a Kiss The Cook apron, and that is how I interpreted that look.
Q: Do you have any upcoming projects?
A: Yes. Number 19 landed me several development deals for upcoming horror features I will be directing in 2012, through a newly formed horror company called HorrorMachine that is staffed with top actors, academy award winning special effects artists and great funding.
Here is an exclusive link to the building of the set of #19 that nobody has ever seen!