Beneath the Darkness was released this week on Blu-ray and DVD, and I had the chance to briefly chat with director Martin Guigui. While usually known for directing comedy films, he jumped into horror territory with Dennis Quaid playing the role of a mortician with something to hide.
During our talk, Martin discusses how Dennis Quaid’s involvement and improvisition changed the final product and the the chances of us seeing a sequel. We also have the trailer, photos, and a number of clips for you to check out.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with Daily Dead. It seems to be inspired by movies like Rear Window or Phantasm and I was curious about how the project came together.
Martin Guigui: This was a project that was pitched to me at the Austin Film Festival by the late Bruce Wilkinson. I was there to promote another film and Bruce had approached me with the idea. I’ve turned down a number of horror films in the past because I couldn’t identify them. I identified with Bruce’s story, which was part thriller, ghost, and love story.
How did Dennis Quaid become involved in the project? Did you have him in mind from the beginning?
Martin Guigui: We had talked to several different actors. Dennis was interested in a different type of role and wanted to do something that he had never done before. After he joined the project, everything accelerated quickly. We had had a huge amount of momentum, which helped with funding and getting us into production. Dennis signed on and we went into pre-production 3 days later.
Did the project evolve when Dennis Quaid came on board or was everything similar to the original plan?
Martin Guigui: The film was continually evolving. It was a collaborative process and we were a team. It was more a collaborative vision than anything and I just kept everything together. There was some improvisation and changes on the set, and the movie continued to evolve even in the editing room and with Geoff Zanelli’s score.
On the topic of evolving, how close was Dennis’ portrayal of Vaughn Ely to the original concept? Did he make any changes or improvise?
Martin Guigui: Vaughn Ely came from a deep place in Dennis’ mind. The character would always have this sense of humor and hide behind that campy tongue in cheek approach to the human condition. That was all his idea. The cemetery speech at the end was also improvised. We stopped filming for 45 minutes as he reworked the dialogue with us.
His performance toward the end was all done on the spot. He told me that he’s actually claustrophobic, so he was very uncomfortable in those small spaces. That was all him.
**Spoiler Warning** Without going into specific spoilers, the film leaves open the possibility of a sequel. Is that something you have discussed? Is everyone on board?
Martin Guigui: Video on demand sales have been very strong, so a sequel is a good possibility. We already have an idea for a sequel and everyone, including Dennis, has expressed interest. We all had so much fun, that there’s that separation anxiety. This was one of those rare moments where everyone had such a good time and we’d all like to do it again.