After bringing blood-stained scares to Valentine's Day with 2009's My Bloody Valentine and raising hell in 2011's Drive Angry, director/co-writer Patrick Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer tap into Halloween horror with Trick, which follows a detective tracking a mysterious and vicious killer who strikes every Halloween season over the span of several years. With the new horror film now in theaters and on VOD and Digital HD from RLJE Films, Daily Dead recently caught up with Lussier to discuss the movie's festive Halloween atmosphere, reuniting with the legendary Tom Atkins, and how the story for Trick originally came from a sequel idea to My Bloody Valentine 3D.
Congratulations on Trick, Patrick. It felt a lot like My Bloody Valentine 3D, with you and Todd Farmer going back to the slasher subgenre. Did you and Todd have this idea for a while, or was this something that you guys recently came up with?
Patrick Lussier: Originally, we thought we would do a sequel to Valentine, and then that never happened. Lionsgate sort of changed what it was looking for at the time, and there were some ideas in that sequel that we had that we thought, "Okay, those are really worth hanging on to and we should see if there's some way to keep them alive. So, it's like the tagline from [Invasion of the] Body Snatchers: "The seed is planted, the terror grows."
So we kept those seeds planted and the terror just sort of grew and took on its own new life and became its own new thing, and we started twisting that around and it became this, and we added more layers of stabbing—there was so much stabbing.
Yeah, it's a really physical movie. It almost feels like watching Michael Myers, but he can do parkour and he's on some kind of drug that makes him even more intense. How much choreography was involved? Because almost everybody in the cast has this fight scene at some point in the movie and it's very brutal, too.
Patrick Lussier: Well, we had a great stunt coordinator, Corey Pierno from New York, who was brilliant and he and I talked a lot about what we wanted. We didn't want a slow stalker. We wanted somebody who was insanely fast and was very much like a snake and it had a real wild predator element to it that would feel unstoppable. He was going to come on like a freight train and just do so much damage so fast. And we worked with the actors on that. Kristina Reyes was great in the fight scene that she has with the killer and did such an amazing job matching that physicality. The primary stunt double helped all the actors in the interaction sequences and obviously helped with the Patrick Weaver sequences—the crazy insane things he could do, we just exploited that.
I love that the killer has this really iconic look to them with the two-face pumpkin mask and the boogeyman makeup underneath. Is that something that you and Todd had written into the script, or did you guys dabble in different looks for the character?
Patrick Lussier: Well, the first mask in the script was just sort of a pumpkin mask, but then we did have the pumpkin makeup underneath. We always had masks and makeup—that was something we wanted to do a combination of. The two-faced pumpkin mask came out during a prep talk with Gary Tunnicliffe, who designed all the masks and the makeups. It was something to make them more interesting, and part of it was when we found the location, sitting there in the location and looking at it and and starting to look at how the black in the scene worked and wanting to add that separate piece. And you can't trust the face that Trick presents to you and we felt, "Okay, this is a great visual way to show that, literally."
Yeah, it ties in metaphorically and practically with the story. And I love, too, that this movie is like a big Halloween festival, beginning to end. It's totally a Halloween movie. It's a celebration of it. It looks like you just transformed all of your shooting locations into the biggest Halloween party that you could.
Patrick Lussier: Yeah, something that we had learned in My Bloody Valentine is that the title sort of informed you on that film and we said, "Okay, well, that tells us the kind of movie we're making, so we need to lean into that." For this, we just thought, "If you're going to do it, you need to just do it." Deana Sydney and Eric Whitney, our production designer and art director, were really into finding ways to put the Halloween into the story, both classic and new. The maze originally was written as a corn maze, and of course it wasn't corn season. But then they found the remnants of a Halloween maze, a haunted house from somebody selling their house and getting rid of all their stuff. And so they bought it all and then they built that maze—a part of it we built inside, a big chunk of that we built outside the actual church on the edge of an actual historic graveyard. So, all that was right there. You couldn't have asked for better.
Yeah, it certainly sets the mood, and then on top of that, you also have this Halloween connection with Tom Atkins, who you and Todd have worked with on your previous films together, and he has a nice juicy role in this one as well. Are you at a point where you write roles for Tom? How did that whole relationship start?
Patrick Lussier: Yeah, when we write, we always stop for, "Okay, and what role is Tom playing? How do we write something for Tom Atkins?" "Well, this is a movie about a convent, and all the characters are 17-year-old girls." "Yes, but which one of them is going to be Tom Atkins?" We adore Tom and would do anything to work with him again and again and again. He is an absolute joy to work with. He's a tremendously awesome human being.
In addition to Tom, you have a really star-studded cast here, including Jamie Kennedy and Omar Epps, who are Scream alumni. And of course you edited the first three Scream movies. Did you know those guys from working on those movies, or was this just a happy coincidence?
Patrick Lussier: I knew Jamie from working on those movies. Omar was just in the first sequence of Scream 2. We never actually met on Scream 2, but we met on Dracula 2000.
So I emailed Omar as we were getting close to shooting and talked to him about the role and the film and how much everyone was wanting to work with him again, and this might be the perfect time. As it turned out, he read the script and loved it. He was totally on board. Omar's a joy to work with, he's an incredible pro. He just thought the part was really fun and he's a big fan of horror movies, as are his kids, which I thinkthat helps. So that was a handy thing.
It's always fun to see Jamie Kennedy in a horror movie again because I love his performance as Randy Meeks in the Scream films.
We have a scream. Jamie and I met early on, and he really dug the script, and when I talked about the part and things like that, he was very on board with what's coming on. So it was great to have him there and he's a blast to work with.
Is there anything else you have coming out that you can talk about? It looks like you leave room for a sequel with Trick, but is there anything on the horizon you can tease?
Patrick Lussier: Yeah, actually on the horizon I just got back from finishing an episode of The Purge for season 2, which you'll be able to see you on December 2nd, which was great fun to do, and I think even has a bigger body count than Trick.
That sounds perfect for Christmas-time viewing.
Patrick Lussier: Absolutely.