By MICHAEL GINGOLD
It’s a scary office Christmas party for the heroine of AMERICAN EXORCIST, co-starring Bill Moseley and debuting this week. Johnny Zito, who wrote and directed the movie with Tony Trov, gave us some words and exclusive pics from it, to go with the latest trailer.
Gravitas Ventures releases AMERICAN EXORCIST to VOD, Blu-ray and DVD this Friday, October 26. The cast also includes Falon Joslyn, John Bolaris and Jeff Orens, and the synopsis is as follows: “Christmas always seems to bring bad luck to the American Building. After a century of tragic accidents and unexplainable deaths, the infamous skyscraper is reportedly haunted. Georgette Dubois [Joslyn] is a professional skeptic hired by management [Moseley] to debunk those urban legends. She’s a scientist, meticulously searching for something to believe in. Her every encounter with the supernatural appears to have a rational explanation. None of that experience as a paranormal investigator prepared her to be trapped high above the city with genuinely ghoulish horrors. Instead, Georgette must reconnect with her spiritual roots if she hopes to survive.”
Zito tells us that the film offers a variation on typical supernatural pictures, which often center on suburban homes and churches: “AMERICAN EXORCIST showcases a traditional exorcism early in the film where we touch on the idea of capturing demons in holy containers—like dybbuk boxs or tabernacles. Then we move to this old skyscraper, a steel structure in the middle of the city, and we find all kinds of evil spirits trapped there. So our main character is running around this big dybbuk box with a demon, and they’re both looking for a way out.”
Zito and co. shot the movie in an abandoned Philadelphia skyscraper, and he recalls, “We spent a week of preproduction exploring all the decaying corners of the building. Lots of the set dressing came from what was left over when we moved in. The office space had been closed since the previous Christmas, and no one bothered to take down the decorations before the move-out. It was strangely perfect for what we were trying to do.”
Despite the title, the filmmaker notes that the visual style was heavily inspired by Italian horror cinema of the 1970s and ’80s. “We used a lot of stark, theatrical lighting when things get supernatural,” he notes. “In many ways, AMERICAN EXORCIST is our love letter to Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. Trov and I grew up searching for their movies on VHS, and we obsessed over the surreal visuals. We were really just trying to make something that made us feel like INFERNO the first time we saw it.”
Moseley, he adds, played a role in the production beyond his onscreen part. “Bill was hired as an actor, but contributed so much creatively that he became a producer. He helped shape the climax of the film both in plot and tone.”
For more on AMERICAN EXORCIST, head over to its official website.