Wanna know how some of your favorite sounds, action sequences, or visual effects were created? Daily Dead had the opportunity to do a Q&A with James Hattin, co-founder of VFX Legion, a creative team that worked on The Purge: AnarchyHardcore Henry, Ouija, and more. Also in today's Horror Highlights: a Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre Blu-ray clip and trailer as well as three promo videos for Sadako vs Kayako.

Daily Dead Q&A with VFX Legion Co-Founder James Hattin, Breakdown Reel and Images:

Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for us. Can you give our readers an idea of what the VFX Legion team does to improve the look of a film and enhance the cinematic experience for viewers?

James Hattin: There are a lot of things that make up a movie. There’s sound, acting, locations, lighting, editing, and often times, visual effects. There are a ton of aspects to visual effects. Sometimes we do something as simple as removing a palm tree from an LA skyline because the show was supposed to take place in Vermont; sometimes we stitch multiple plates together to seamlessly transition from one take to another; sometimes we create CG characters that feel real within the surrounding environments. Really it all comes down to enhancing the sense of immersion, and supporting the narrative of the film.

VFX Legion recently worked on the innovative action thriller, Hardcore Henry. Did the film’s first-person POV provide any new challenges or experiences for the team?

James Hattin: Yes! This was one of the most challenging and demanding projects that we have worked on to date. We’ve done a lot of gore and muzzle flashes over the years, but it was never on GoPro footage. The super wide-angle lenses that the GoPro uses are virtually impossible to track and solve quickly. This is how Hardcore Henry rapidly became a passion project of epic proportions for us.

What has been the most exciting part of the entire process of working on a revolutionary film like Hardcore Henry?

James Hattin: Watching early cuts of this movie almost two years ago, we were blown away by Hardcore Henry and knew that we had to be a part of the journey. Scenes like the shootout in the brothel are just unbridled carnage. It’s so much fun to hand a sequence like that to a very senior artist and tell them to have fun with it. At the end of the scene, there’s blood on every wall, every bad guy is dead or dying, and people are getting limbs cut off. It’s just fun, blood-spattered goodness – you can’t deny that there’s an element of fun to just going wild with the effects on a scene like that.

Do you have a favorite scene from Hardcore Henry that you worked on?

James Hattin: There were no sequences that we worked on that weren’t epic on some level, whether that was Henry was jumping off a building, chasing a bad guy only to see his head explode, or driving in a car and having the driver get shot in the head and crash. They were all pretty cool sequences to work on. However, there was a subtle side too. There are some really subtle morphs between edits – where we stitched shots together to create the illusion of one continuous shot – that we thought were absolutely brilliant. That isn’t perhaps as exciting for the audience, but for us gear heads it’s really, really cool!

In addition to Hardcore Henry, VFX Legion has worked on plenty of horror films, including the upcoming Purge: Election Year. Can you discuss how you got involved with The Purge franchise and give a tease of your work in the blood-spattered Election Year?

James Hattin: We work on a number of films for horror mavens Blumhouse. We worked on The Purge: Anarchy in the capacity of removals and clearance issues: signs, phone numbers, in the background and so on. We were approached to work on Election Year at the end of the year last year. The show has been shot and is currently being edited and finalized. We can’t say much other than people are going to die, and there’s going to be a lot of blood as it happens. What’s a Purge without a little death and destruction?

VFX Legion has also had a creative hand in the respective Insidious and Sinister horror film franchises. What kind of eerie elements have you added to these films over the years?

James Hattin: Insidious 3 was all VFX Legion. There was a lot of dark imagery in that one. Leigh Whannell wrote a pretty frightening script that made it from the page to the screen almost exactly as he wrote it. Legion was tasked with a couple of great jump scares. There’s a shot where the ‘man who can’t breathe’ is outside a window, dead on the pavement, but when our heroine looks out the window he’s RIGHT FREAKING THERE and pulls her out of the window. The shot that we worked on was a couple of different takes stitched together and a giant greenscreen outside the window. Our lead artist Kyle Spiker rebuilt the street and neighborhood inside the computer and projected it onto rough geometry of the scene outside. It plays so well that even we jumped in the theater when it came on!

For Sinister 2, we took over some of the VFX when the previous vendor couldn’t complete the additional shots required. This was mostly from the end of the movie. We did a lot of work on the ‘Ghost Kids’. These are the children that Bughuul has convinced to kill their parents, and now their one job is to recruit new kids. At the end of the movie, the Ghost Kids are trying to help one of the brothers hunt down and kill his family. They required a very specific look on their faces; sort of a cracked doll look. In a few shots in the movie, this was done with makeup, but for the later sequences, it was decided that VFX Legion could apply the faces in post. We put tracking dots on the actor’s faces and then built their Ghost Look in the computer, applying it to them for the whole sequence. The sequence ended with the antagonist’s brother being killed by Bughuul. This shot was created by our maestro of gore John McConnell. He built a destroyed face and tracked it onto the boy as he walked towards the camera. As he walks, we animated his face deteriorating into nearly skeletal ash, which leads to the house catching on fire. And then, yeah, we also burned the house down.

Is the VFX Legion team comprised of big horror fans that prefer to work in that genre, or do the projects that come up just tend to be more scare-centric?

James Hattin: Having a relationship with Blumhouse has afforded us the chance to do some great work in the horror genre, but we love a mix of genres at Legion! Half the company loves horror; the other half loves science fiction. Our head of production likes artsy Italian movies from the 50s. Still, whatever our artists’ preferences, it’s always very rewarding to take something like the last few scenes in Sinister 2 that weren’t playing well with what was shot, and then going over the top and creating something that is visually very disturbing. We will always look to do work that seamlessly works to change how people feel as they watch something. That might mean just altering what was shot, or in some cases, creating something completely new.

Is there a type of film or story that you haven’t worked on yet that is on your dream project list?

James Hattin: Spaceships! Mechs! Sci-fi. We haven’t yet worked on much science fiction stuff. There are so many great projects out there now with the Star Wars movies and their spin-offs, as well as a new Blade Runner being produced. It’s a very exciting time to be working in visual effects, with some awesome projects going on, and we’d love to be a part of them in the future.

Looking back on your VFX portfolio, what particular cinematic moments have you helped enhance that you the most proud of?

James Hattin: There’s so many little moments that we’ve worked on that made the movie, from jump scares to crazy facial alteration like in Ouija, where we added stitching to a character’s face to just make it really creepy. However, the big jump scare in Insidious with ‘the man who can’t breathe’ appearing in the window, pulling Stefanie Scott’s character out if it, really sticks out in the memory. That’s something that Legion’s artists pulled off with their distinct style.

Do you have any upcoming VFX Legion projects that you can tease for our readers, and where can they go to learn more about the company and its team?

James Hattin: As always, check out our website for updates. Right now we are working on The Purge: Election Day. Lot’s of good blood and gore! If someone needs a bullet in the head, they know who to call. A computer generated bullet, that is…


To learn more about VFX Legion, visit:

Spoiler alert for those who haven't seen Hardcore Henry:

  • Tamika Jones
    About the Author - Tamika Jones

    Tamika hails from North Beach, Maryland, a tiny town inches from the Chesapeake Bay.She knew she wanted to be an actor after reciting a soliloquy by Sojourner Truth in front of her entire fifth grade class. Since then, she's appeared in over 20 film and television projects. In addition to acting, Tamika is the Indie Spotlight manager for Daily Dead, where she brings readers news on independent horror projects every weekend.

    The first horror film Tamika watched was Child's Play. Being eight years old at the time, she remembers being so scared when Chucky came to life that she projectile vomited. It's tough for her to choose only one movie as her favorite horror film, so she picked two: Nosferatu and The Stepford Wives (1975).