By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Zeph E. Daniel, whose screenwriting credits include Brian Yuzna’s BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR and SOCIETY under the name Woody Keith, is back as scripter and co-producer of a new shocker called GIRL NEXT. We got some exclusive pics and words from the filmmakers, along with the teaser trailer.
Loris Curci also produced GIRL NEXT, which was directed by Larry Wade Carrell (the award-winning JACOB) and is currently in postproduction, eyeing a May 2020 release. Lacey Cofran, Marcus Jean Pirae, Paula Mercenaro and Rachel Alig star; the synopsis: “Lorian West is perfect. She’s young, upscale, connected, the right school, the right politics, the classic blonde, blue-eyed American beauty. Unknown to Lorian, though, she’s been targeted for abduction. She’s drugged and taken to a remote rundown ranch where international traffickers not only deliver women for sex, but change them into obedient, beautiful yet placid and willing-to-please sex dolls. They also kill the ones who resist the program. ‘Sofia’ is the newest model from Heinrich, a scientist whose genius is using trauma-based mind-control techniques along with other hideous extremes of physical and mental torture to create the perfect doll. Heinrich thinks Lorian is actually the next breakthrough model and is excited to raise the price of delivery. Enter a shady sheriff who supplies Heinrich with a drug that eventually takes him into madness. The sherriff gets the call from someone up the food chain to stop the operation and shut it down. It is now a failure and the order is given to kill Lorian. But Lorian has other plans—ones that involve retaliation.”
“I was deep in postproduction on another movie when Zeph and Mike Muscal originally reached out to me about directing GIRL NEXT,” Carrell tells RUE MORGUE. “Not knowing who they were, I initially declined because I was just so busy, but my wife actually pointed out to me who they were. I am a child of the video era and grew up on the classics—EVIL DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, SOCIETY—so when I learned that Zeph used to be known as Woody Keith and had written some of my all-time favorite cult films, I knew I had to meet them. My first conversation with Zeph went like this” ‘Look, we really have the itch to make a kick-ass movie, one that we would want to see. We have our own money, we don’t want to pull any punches. We have seen your flicks and like what you do. We think you are the guy. Let’s make an awesome film—you do the heavy lifting while we sit back, drink some martinis and watch you go!’ Well, how in the hell do you refuse that? I was on board! Then I got the script, and it addresses modern topics with characters that leap off the page, combining the best of the present and the past as only Zeph’s demented mind can.”
“Larry and I got on splendidly,” Daniel recalls. “We talked for hours about cool movie stuff, films we loved, the history of horror and cinema in general. At the time, I was still writing the screenplay for GIRL NEXT. He was very encouraging and enthusiastic about the early pages. It was not an easy script by any means, but I found myself in a very fortunate situation where all the characters were coming to life, not just one or two. Right away, Larry glommed onto the villain, Heinrich, and from there it was obvious he was the man to direct this unusual feature. He took the story and characters to a higher level. He’s quite the visionary and had the right plan for GIRL NEXT, and everyone knew it.”
When it came to casting, the plan was to cast unfamiliar actors so that audiences could hook directly into the story, without the distraction of recognizable faces. “We reached out all over the world,” Carrell says, “and saw literally thousands of actors until we found just the right people. We have a wonderful ensemble of brand new faces mixed with some veteran actors from other countries, which was perfect for our international group of human traffickers.”
Both Daniel and Carrell aimed to make a movie that pulled no punches. “The psychological aspects are quite extreme,” Daniel says, “and the actors all went beyond expectations. So now we’re in post, working toward the premiere, and we’re very excited to bring GIRL NEXT to audiences around the world. Fans of horror, psychological thrillers and dysfunctional family drama will all have something to sink their teeth into.”