We're back with another edition of Horror Highlights! In today's installment: a look at the latest Billy doll from Mezco and Living Dead Dolls, two interviews with the composers of The Other Lamb and The Wretched, details on the Hollywood Critics Association's trivia event, and new of Well Go USA's acquisition of Broil:

LDD Presents Saw: Billy

"Let the game begin…

Often used by John Kramer, better known as the Jigsaw Killer, Billy would inform Jigsaw’s victims about the rules and instructions they had to follow in order to survive his deadly games.

Billy wears his signature tuxedo, bowtie, and red shoes. His all-new head sculpt features protruding cheeks with spiral detailing, and red lips that form a maniacal grim. His dark eyes and red irises see every move you make.

The LDD Presents Saw: Billy stands 10” tall and features 5 points of articulation. He is packaged in a die-cut window box, perfect for display.

LDD Presents Saw: Billy is available for preorder at https://mezcotoyz.com/ldd-presents-saw-billy."


THE WRETCHED Composer Devin Burrows Discusses the Film’s Spine-Chilling Score:

IFC Films’ genre label, IFC Midnight has become known for a lot of their cult classics in the horror genre. From THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE to THE BABADOOK, they repeatedly release projects that are telling fresh and terrifying stories, while continually raising the bar for the genre. Their latest title, THE WRETCHED, being no exception. Directed by The Pierce Brothers, the film follows a defiant teenage boy (John-Paul Howard), struggling with his parent's imminent divorce, as he faces off with a thousand-year-old witch who is living beneath the skin of and posing as the woman (Zarah Mahler) next door. There are many things that stand out about this film, Devin Burrows’ score being one of them. His original and unique score creates suspense, terror and dread all at once. We wanted to shine a spotlight on Devin’s creative process, so we spoke to him exclusively below. Read the full Q&A here:

-The Hollywood Reporter said that “Your score escalates from ominous dread into nerve-jangling haute terror.” Was this what you were going for while creating the score?

I’m elated by that description of the score! With THE WRETCHED we set out to make a magically dreadful, unique aural imprint; a score that aids in telling the story and makes your spine quiver. I hope we delivered on all of those intentions. It does build into a visceral orchestral maelstrom by the end of the film!

-At what point were you brought on to the project? After it was already filmed?

The Pierce Brothers, Brett and Drew, and I started by discussing the themes for the movie as they were writing the script. I would read the latest draft and send them a musical idea, a theme for the witch, for instance. They would then send me an updated version of the script to review. This back and forth had an intense and fun creative energy.

I also visited them on-location in Michigan to get a feel for the woods and in LA to experience the innards of the witch’s maw. Those visits were key to getting the vibe of the score, especially the parts that introduce the witch and that lead us, if warily, into the woods. I’m always thrilled to work with Brett and Drew because of the profound collaboration. They like to challenge me; we work well together and we can chat about movies for hours!

-Like many other horror films, the opening scene begins with a bang, intensity wise. Did you score this film in chronological order or go back to this scene after you had gotten more comfortable with the film’s sounds?

I tend to not score chronologically at first. Ideally, I’ll watch the film without temp music, many times, and try to understand the tone. I look for emotions, themes, motifs, harmony, and/or timbre that can represent ideas and can be developed throughout the narrative. The initial music does not need to be synchronized to picture.

Once I have something working, I try variations in a few pivotal moments in the film. There is no magic-bullet process, of course. On THE WRETCHED I experimented a lot to get the right sound. Experimentation and flexibility are paramount.

-The Pierce Brothers’ last film, DEADHEADS, has a lot different vibe then THE WRETCHED. How was your approach different between the two films?

For THE WRETCHED we wanted the score to have a distinct sonic signature. Brett and Drew came over to my place at one point. I laid out several instruments and went about playing them; and all listened. It was a musical instrument casting session! They were super enthusiastic about the Sarangi and Bowed Psaltery which went on to play very important roles in the score. They gave THE WRETCHED it’s textured, sometimes avant-garde, sound.

DEADHEADS was a comedy, action and horror film so the nature of the music was a bit different. Both films have mixed tonality; that is one thing the Pierce Brothers were clear about, from the word go, on THE WRETCHED. The emotion in the film is polychromatic and the music had to be too. This film has strong character development and striking performances, so you’re invested when things become sinister. The music goes from creepy and voyeuristically playful to sentimental to darkly revelatory.

There is nothing like recording with an orchestra; I’m ecstatic that I was able to in Germany for THE WRETCHED soundtrack; in that way, it differs from DEADHEADS as well.

-What were The Pierce Brothers main notes about the score?

“Make it bigger!” There were a few times when I was holding back a bit but they only had to ask me once. We ended up with a big sound! Giving unabashed feedback and being able to accept it is super important in this business and it is something I pride myself on. It’s all about doing the right thing for the story.

I like to present a few options to directors to be sure we explore different angles musically. It’s amazing how music can influence the meaning of a scene. Brett and Drew like to give their team space to perform their magic which is great.

-What makes a horror score stand out to you?

I have a high threshold for harmonically tense music and I cherish scores that build and release anxiety. I treasure film scores of old that have a bit of personality like POLTERGEIST, PSYCHO, and THE OTHERS. If a horror film has themes and motifs that stands out. I’m really glad we were able to weave several themes into THE WRETCHED, it was important to the Directors & I. The use of innovative unnerving sounds also leaves a lasting impression.

-THE WRETCHED has a similar vibe to REAR WINDOW and FRIGHT NIGHT. Did this cross your mind when you were working on it?

We discussed REAR WINDOW and the FRIGHT NIGHT vibe was not lost on anyone. I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and it was a treat trying to conjure the spirit of Bernard Herrmann while scoring. There are many genre film nods in THE WRETCHED: ALIENS, JAWS, perhaps THE THING.

What excites me about the film is that even with this diverse set of influences, it still unapologetically deviates from the recent horror-movie blueprint and establishes something new. It’s an uncommon creature-feature flick with witch fairy-tale mythology and a set of rules that I think audiences are going to dig.

-THE WRETCHED is a horror movie in the witch subgenre. What did that mean for you, musically?

Oh wow! Great question! I have a big collection of musical scores. I surround myself with things that inspire me: art, poetry; music. I prepared by studying scores of the past including music about witches. I dove deeply into Mussorgsky’s “The Hut on Hen's Legs” and Manuel De Falla’s “El Amor Brujo”. I wanted to give the sense that something ancient was being summoned. We may have performed a bit of musical witchcraft with this movie. I can’t wait for audiences to see it!

Learn more about Devin Burrows here: http://www.devinburrows.com/

THE WRETCHED is available on all VOD platforms.


INTERVIEW: The Other Lamb Composer Rafaël Leloup Breaks Down the Film’s Score:

What do you get when you mix Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Wicker Man (1973) with Ari Aster’s Midsommer? IFC Midnight’s recent feature The Other Lamb. For her entire life, the cult she was born into has been all that teenage Selah (Raffey Cassidy) has known. Along with a band of similarly cloistered young women she lives seemingly unstuck in time, cut off from modern society in a remote forest commune presided over by a man called Shepherd (Michiel Huisman), a controlling, messiah-like figure with a frightening dark side. But when her insular world is rocked by a series of nightmarish visions and disturbing revelations, Selah begins to question everything about her existence--including her allegiance to the increasingly dangerous Shepherd. Awash in images of primal, dreamlike dread, this provocative fable is a haunting vision of adolescent awakening and revolt. Not only is the film visually stunning (cinematography by Michal Englert), but the score is equally intriguing and effective. One of the talents behind these melodies, composer Rafaël Leloup. To learn more about Leloup and how the film’s score was created, we spoke to him exclusively below.

-When you were reading the film’s script what stuck out to you most about the story?

I was stoked to be able to start thinking about the score of The Other Lamb before it was even shot, only based on writer Catherine S. McMullen’s script, director Malgorzata Szumowska’s musical intentions and producers Stephanie Wilcox and David Lancaster from Rumble Films’ movie references. The scope for the imagination was quite broad, I clearly remember how excited I was reading the script and thinking of all the musical possibilities, and how the story already had a strong musical rhythm and progression. The fact that Catherine wrote the story through the eyes of Selah, the main protagonist, also gave the opportunity to play with her inner emotions and the contrast between her inner feelings and the external point of view.

-In a previous interview you said the director wanted a lot of music prior to filming to get into the mood on set. So you wrote music in many different directions to give her a wide selection to choose from. What other kinds of music did you present to her?

After reading the script, I wrote a lot of music based on my first impressions. From those tracks, a lot of them still exist, untouched, as thematic material in the film, others have been re-worked back and forth with Malgorzata until we were both satisfied and ready to start working on the images. I stayed very close to the intentions and references I was given, but I experimented a lot with instruments, spaces, rhythms and pace. I wanted to give Malgorzata a lot of options to choose from, and ultimately she stayed very loyal to her first intentions: minimalistic, modern and dark with a lot of ambiance, leaning into strange, disturbing sounds to create a creepy mood.

-Is there a scene or sequence that you composed in the film that you are most proud of that you can talk about and reveal why it resonated with you?

There is one scene that holds all of the musical ideas of the film in one single track, I am pretty proud of that one even though it is not a key moment in the story. It just worked perfectly and it is one of those cues that barely changed from the moment we started the process until the final mix. It’s about one third into the film, it starts with a few electronic bell notes and the string quartet playing a stripped down version of one of the main themes. It evolves into a more horror-like soundscape with haunting tones and extended string techniques, and ends with voices filtered through an effect I created with a modular programming software called Max/MSP.

- Rumble Films’ film references for The Other Lamb included The Witch and The Babadook. What stuck out most to you about those two films and more specifically their scores?

The fact that Malgorzata’s intention was to have an electronic score with a few strings definitely put the soundtrack of The Witch as a number one inspiration for me, even before Rumble Films mentioned that film as a reference. I particularly appreciate Mark Korven as a composer in general, and in his score there he did such an incredible job both narratively and musically. The way he uses the cello, nyckelharpa and voices in the film is both beautiful and haunting at the same time. I just tried to immerse myself as much as possible in the two films’ universes before delivering the first tracks to the team.

-Do you feel like the intensity of your score progressed as the film went on or did it stay the same? 

Because the narrative is told from Selah’s perspective, it made sense to have the score evolve as she realizes the situation she is in. From an acoustic string quartet only, the score evolves by adding layers and distorting the pureness of the beginning, and thus adds to the horrific realization and measures she takes against the patriarchy. Pretty much everything in the music, from the frequency spectrum to the amplitude, to the space, develops and grows to reflect her feelings.

-Is there going to be an album release for the score?

The music is very much tied to the images, and having an album would require re-working the cues for that specific purpose. As much as I would love to dive back into the soundtrack again, I am currently working on a couple of new projects that I want to give my full attention to. If the opportunity arises in the future, that would be awesome, reshaping the soundtrack for a stereo, music-only album would allow for a lot of interesting developments.

-Was their anything you learned in particular while working on this film that you will take with you onto your next project?

Every project is a new experience, and brings new challenges. Over the years, I have worked with smaller teams on indie movies. It was my first time working on a bigger production with several countries involved, several time zones and cultural expectations, that was super enlightening and interesting. Also, the music team for the project was larger and I got to work with A-list talents like music supervisor Arnaud Blanpain from General Score, everyone at the ICP recording studios and Dada mixing studios in Brussels, as well as the amazing members of the string quartet Paulina Sokolowska, Kaja Nowak, Jasmien Van Hautem and Kacper Nowak. 

-Pawel Mykietyn is also listed as the other composer on this film. Can you talk about how you split up the work or who focused on what?

Malgorzata and I worked for a while to find the tone of the film before it was shot. Most of the soundtrack was almost decided by the time they started shooting in Ireland so they could create a nice symbiosis between the music and the visuals. In post-production, when they started editing the film, Malgorzata attended a concert of her friend Pawel in Poland and fell in love with one of his orchestral pieces. She felt that one sequence would work perfectly for some sections of the film. Fortunately, he was excited by the project and gave his permission to license his work. It’s a gorgeous piece and adding these orchestral flourishes into the film brought a really nice dimension to the soundtrack. I worked carefully to integrate those passages to make sure we would keep the overall cohesive feeling and narrative the film needed.


The Hollywood Critics Association to host a film and television Triviathon to help raise funds for those who have been impacted by COVID-19:

Press Release - "The Hollywood Critics Association is hosting a film and television Triviathon to help raise funds for those who have been impacted by COVID-19.

"The past two months have been challenging and scary times. This pandemic is unlike anything we have ever seen or experienced before, but during this time of uncertainty, millions of people are doing what they can to help others in need. This is why we as an organization have decided that we wanted to do something not only as a way to assist those in need but to show our appreciation to everyone who has put themselves on the front lines during this incredibly difficult time," notes HCA founder Scott Menzel.

"I have been so moved by all of the recent relief efforts and felt like our organization had to do something to give back to our community and those who have been impacted by the virus. We came up with the idea of hosting an online telethon, but wanted to make it fun, which is why we have decided to make it a trivia game," adds HCA Vice President Jazz Tangcay.

The Hollywood Critics Association Triviathon will consist of seven rounds of film and television trivia that will feature questions created by members of the Hollywood Critics Association, as well as some special appearances by surprise guests. Each round will highlight a different organization that is doing its part to help out those who have been impacted by COVID-19. At the end of the event, the total amount of funds raised will be revealed and then divided up and donated evenly to the seven charity organizations that we have selected. We are raising money for The Actors Fund, ASPCA, Dine11.org, Feeding America, MPTF, UNICEF, and United Way Worldwide.

How to donate:

The Hollywood Critics Association has set up multiple ways in which you can donate to the organizations listed. Here are three easy ways to donate:

Via Venmo @HollywoodCritics
Via Paypal - paypal.me/HollywoodCritics
Via Individual GoFundMe Campaigns
The Actors Fund - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-for-the-actors-fund
ASPCA - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-for-aspca
Dine11.org - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-for-dine11org
Feed America - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-for-feeding-america
MPTF - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-for-mptf
UNICEF - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-for-unicef
United Way Worldwide - https://www.gofundme.com/f/hollywood-critics-association-and-united-way

How to play:

While this Triviathon is being held to help those in need, this trivia game is free to join and play. There will be a series of prizes as well as some bonus giveaways that will be given out throughout the event.

Starting at 4:30 p.m. PST/7:30 p.m. EST on Saturday, May 16, 2020, you can go to the Hollywood Critics Association YouTube channel or the Hollywood Critics Twitch Page to view the live stream of the Triviathon. The game itself will begin promptly at 5:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. EST. We will also post the link on our Twitter page at @hcacritics and the official Hollywood Critics Association Facebook page.

We welcome everyone to join in the fun and play the game. You can play alone or create a team. However, if you are playing on a team, please select one person on your team to fill out the answer sheet for each and every round. We cannot have multiple sheets submitted for the same team. At the end of reach round, that answer sheet for that round will be turned off and answers can no longer be submitted. Once the sheet has been turned off, one of the hosts will reveal the answers for that round before the next round begins.

At the end of the event, the final scores will be added up and the three teams/winners with the highest scores will be announced later that evening or the following day on the official Hollywood Critics Association Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. We will contact the winners directly to get the necessary information to ensure the winners will receive their prizes.

Six Important Rules:

1. No cheating. This means no looking up answers or clues on the internet. I know it’s tempting, but it is not in the true spirit of what makes trivia fun.

2. If you are using a team name, please make sure that the team name is spelled the same way for every round. If it is spelled incorrectly, we will count it as a separate entry.

3. Spelling. While we don’t want anyone looking up clues or answers on the internet, we do encourage everyone to use the internet if you don’t know how to spell an answer. The better the spelling, the quicker we will have the scores added up.

4. Please do not guess or post answers to the questions in the chat during the rounds. If you know the answer to a question, that’s awesome, but don’t give another team or player the answer because it will only hurt your odds of winning a prize at the end of the game.

5. Please keep the answer to yourself or team members until all answer sheets are submitted and the round is officially closed. We are doing this event for free as a way to raise funds to help support The Actors Fund, ASPCA, Dine11.org, Feeding America, MPTF, UNICEF, and United Way Worldwide. While it is not required to donate, anything that you can give is much appreciated.

6. Have fun. We are doing this because we love having a good time. Trivia is all about coming together with friends and having fun. We want everyone who is playing to enjoy themselves.

If you participate in our event, we would appreciate it if you could use one or more of the following hashtags: #HCACritics #HCATrivia #HCATriviaNight #HCATriviathon

If you are interested in participating in the event as a special guest or would like to submit a trivia question, please contact Scott Menzel at SMenzel@HollywoodCriticsAssociation.com for more information.

We truly hope that this Triviathon offers some much-needed enjoyment and entertainment while also helping to support those who have been on the front lines and helping combat COVID-19.


Well Go USA Acquires Gothic Thriller BROIL for October U.S. Release:

Press Release: "Well Go USA Entertainment has acquired the U.S. rights to Canadian thriller BROIL, a seemingly classic coming-of-age story that is quickly complicated by the fact that the protagonist’s family has been hiding a dark secret for millennia. Directed by Edward Drake (Breach, Cosmic Sin), BROIL features a veteran cast that includes Lochlyn Munro (Riverdale), Timothy V. Murphy (National Treasure: Book of Secrets), and Jonathan Lipnicki (Jerry MaguireStuart Little). A digital and home entertainment release is scheduled for October 13, 2020.

After a violent incident with an insufferable school nemesis, 17-year-old Chance Sinclair (Avery Konrad) is sent to live with her reclusive grandfather (Murphy) in his lavish mountain estate. As she seeks to uncover the true origin of her eccentric grandfather’s exorbitant wealth—and a mysterious familial health condition going back generations—she may get way more than she bargained for. Quickly caught between two warring factions of the family, Chance’s only hope for survival may well come from a killer-for-hire (Lipnicki) with a fortuitous stroke of culinary genius.

"Well Go USA is home to some of my favorite films and I’m so grateful for the hard work of the team,” said Edward Drake, director and co-writer of BROIL. “BROIL was created by a fantastic Vancouver and Victoria cast and crew. We took cues from Rosemary's Baby, The Witch, Get Out, Succession, Barry Lyndon, You’re Next, and many more to bring BROIL to life, a story which is absolutely 100% based on true events.”

"BROIL explores the ways families hurt each other,” said Piper Mars, co-writer of BROIL. “I hope the film invites viewers to question the needless secrecy and conflict they have in their lives.”

BROIL was directed by Edward Drake, written by Edward Drake and Piper Mars (The Young Woman) and produced by Corey Large (It Follows, The November Man)."

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