By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Ever since his debut film COMBAT SHOCK (pictured), now out on limited special-edition Blu-ray from Severin Films—see our interview about that here—director Buddy Giovinazzo has specialized in gritty drama and thriller features like NO WAY HOME, THE UNSCARRED and LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKDOWN (based on his book). He has ventured into horror with the “I Love You” segment of the anthology THE THEATRE BIZARRE and the still-unreleased A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES, and now aims to get back to that territory with a project called MANIFESTATION.
“It’s a pure horror film,” Giovinazzo tells RUE MORGUE, “dealing with a family in crisis. It’s a mother, a father and an 8-year-old boy who’s slightly autistic. They’re completely bankrupt, and they’re forced to move into a house that the mother inherits from a deceased aunt. Once they move in, they’re trying to live their lives, but their marriage is on the rocks, and there’s a demonic female presence in the house that appears to the husband and falls in love with him, and will do anything to be with him. That makes the marriage even more fucked-up, because now it’s a question of, is he seeing things, is any of this real, what the hell’s going on? It’s more mature than my other films; it’s not so bloody, but it’s very creepy.”
MANIFESTATION follows in the thematic footsteps of “I Love You” in its depiction of horrifically fractured relationships. “I love that subject,” Giovinazzo says, “and my biggest regret about THEATRE BIZARRE is that I didn’t turn that story into a feature. I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever made.” He’s also a big fan of a recent genre hit that explores similar ideas. “I just saw HEREDITARY, and I thought it was terrific. It’s definitely my kind of film.”
Currently, Giovinazzo is shopping the MANIFESTATION script around, seeking backing for the film. “I’m trying to find a production entity, a producing partner who can come on board and shepherd it, and set things up. I don’t want to produce, I just want to write and direct, because I’ve produced and it takes too much away from the filmmaking part.”
Hopefully, MANIFESTATION will come to a better end than A NIGHT OF NIGHTMARES, about a music blogger (THE LOST’s Marc Senter) who travels to the remote home of a singer (WE ARE STILL HERE’s Elissa Dowling) and discovers she’s not the only one dwelling there. The movie got positive responses at festivals in 2012, but has been in distribution limbo ever since. “I made it for a company that didn’t want to make a horror film—or, what they wanted was a horror film from the ’80s with a guy chasing girls in the woods with a knife,” Giovinazzo says. “I don’t think that film will ever see the light of day, and it really bums me out. The movie has been recut, and they added an eight-minute scene at the beginning that plays like a porno film. It’s completely disappointing.”
While on the trail for backing for his new feature, Giovinazzo is writing another book. “It’s not so much in the genre, it’s more of a dramatic piece. I can’t live from my books, so I write one every 10 years or so, just to get it out of my system.” He’s also got another assignment coming up in what has been his “day job” for the last decade or so: directing episodes of a TV series in Germany, where he currently resides. “I’m shooting in August in Berlin,” he says. “These shows are where I hone my chops as a director; they’re not my scripts. They’re crime films, basically, but I’m limited in the amount of violence and blood I can show. What they allow me to do is work with great actors and fine-tune my craft. When I did ‘I Love You,’ I used a German TV crew and two actors I had worked with on those series. That’s how I live as a director right now; unfortunately, I haven’t carved out my niche like David Cronenberg or David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch or John Waters, guys who can just live from their own films. That’s something I haven’t been able to crack, but I’m not giving up.”