Coming to theaters, VOD, and iTunes tomorrow with the gas pedal to the floor and one eye on the rearview mirror is Wrecker, a new road trip horror film from XLrator Media. For our latest Q&A feature, we caught up with Wrecker co-writer/director Micheal Bafaro.
Thanks for taking the time to converse with us, Micheal. How did you come up with the idea for your latest film, Wrecker?
Micheal Bafaro: I’ve always been inspired by the open road. For me, it’s the ultimate embodiment of freedom, adventure, and optimism. However, it can also be unpredictable as one moves away from familiar surroundings into the unknown. I’ve got an active imagination and I’m always having story ideas pop into my head. Highways themselves are an iconic part of the North American landscape and culture, and I felt that it was time to do a road film of my own. I grew up in a small town and hopping in your car and taking off somewhere has always fascinated me.
I originally got the idea for Wrecker while I was on a road trip doing research for a different film. I was driving somewhere pretty remote and my radio cut out. I had to stop for gas. It was one of the places where they still pump the gas for you. As the attendant was busy, I decided to stretch my legs and smoke a couple cigarettes. I was enjoying the quiet of the highway when I overhead a tense conversation between two young women arguing over which direction to go. I suppose they were lost. Something about them just made something go off in my head and I thought: "what if these two girls found themselves pursued by a homicidal maniac?" I mentioned the experience to producer Evan Tylor, and together we developed the story for what eventually became Wrecker. We really wanted to create a modern day version of classic horror that would speak to audiences across generations.
What were the challenges of shooting a film that has a lot of intense on-the-road scenes?
Micheal Bafaro: Block shooting is always going to be a pain in the ass. Anytime we had to do a new camera set-up we had to ensure that the actors matched their performances. Some of the driving scenes were shot over multiple days. For instance, I might get the two-shot of Anna and Drea on Monday, Anna’s coverage Tuesday, and then Drea’s coverage Wednesday, all of which has to be cut into one scene. Having the actors maintain the same level of energy and consistency in performance is something that I had to really be diligent on with this film. With all of the high intensity driving scenes, I had to make safety a priority above all else. I’d say the most challenging thing was the level of organization necessary to pull this film off. I am very fortunate to have had the privilege to work with a dedicated cast and crew that eased any unforeseen challenges.
What was your experience working with Anna Hutchison, who many horror fans know from The Cabin in the Woods?
Micheal Bafaro: Anna was fantastic, an absolute pleasure to work with. It was great having her on-set as she constantly kept a dedicated attitude which enlivened the rest of the crew. I’m embarrassed to say it, but when I found out she not only liked the script, but was eager to do the film, it felt like I had something good on my hands.
Throughout the production she kept bringing new things to the table and in my mind, she truly became Emily. Anna’s got an amazing screen presence and her chemistry with Drea went beyond my expectations. Between takes Anna and Drea were constantly joking and laughing, but as soon as the cameras started rolling they dropped straight into character. With Anna and Drea together, I really felt like I had the perfect cast. Any director would be lucky to work with either of them.
Did any other vehicular horror films influence how you approached making Wrecker?
Micheal Bafaro: Without a doubt. George Sluizer’s original The Vanishing is one of my favourite films of all time. There’s a scene very early on in the film that was big influence on my film—where the car breaks down in the middle of a dark tunnel—that always sticks with me. When I approached Wrecker, I knew I wanted to have that type of atmosphere when we’re outside the car. Without giving too much away, if you’ve seen The Vanishing, you’ll see the big influence that it had on Wrecker.
Steven Spielberg’s Duel, a childhood favourite of mine, was a huge source of inspiration as well. The way Spielberg created that level of tension and suspense in a film that’s set during daylight I found to be remarkable. Normally, we think of the psychopath stalking through the night when no one’s around, but there’s something so much more unsettling about running for your life in broad daylight and not knowing who it is.
Another film which captured the isolation and helplessness I was trying to convey was Jonathan Mostow’s Breakdown. I’m indebted to the contributions made by these filmmakers and I hope that Wrecker will have the same impact on future generations of filmmakers and horror fans.
With Wrecker due out in theaters and on VOD and iTunes on November 6th, what projects do you have on deck that you can tease for our readers, and where can they find you on social media?
Micheal Bafaro: Right now I’m just finishing off this script I’ve been working on for the last few months and developing several other projects, one that I’m really excited about, a little horror film called Playtime. I can’t say too much about it right now, but let’s just say it’s a story of two guys who get their hands on a killer video game and all hell breaks loose.
You can find information for Wrecker on the official Twitter and Instagram pages, or check the Industry Works website for more information. As far the page for Micheal Bafaro, check the white pages… just kidding, I’m currently putting a new one together, look for it soon.