By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Way back in 2009, indie producing outfit Upstart Filmworks began shooting a horror movie then titled IMAGO. It was recently completed under the new title IN THE BLOOD, and we’ve got the exclusive first look at the trailer and poster, along with words from the director and one of the stars and news about a forthcoming Texas screening.
IN THE BLOOD marks the feature directorial debut of Chris Warren, from a script he wrote with Mel House (CLOSET SPACE, PSYCHIC EXPERIMENT), who also produced. Natali Jones (DEAD AWAKE), Lisa Wilcox (A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 4 and 5), Debbie Rochon (AMERICAN NIGHTMARE, MODEL HUNGER), Omar Adam, Sean Brison and Parrish Randall star; the synopsis: “IN THE BLOOD follows Jennifer [Jones], a young woman with a dark past, as she goes on a search for her missing brother. Jennifer soon discovers that her brother’s disappearance was anything but planned…and related to something not of this world.”
“We screened the movie in its original form several years ago at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Festival,” Warren tells RUE MORGUE, “and everyone loved it. However, we kept hearing the same feedback about certain things that weren’t quite landing the way we’d intended. We were still getting sales offers here and there, but once Mel and I discussed it, the decision was made to take another stab at the edit and the visual effects. When we first set out to make this film, we didn’t anticipate having as many VFX shots as there are in it now, which is a huge hurdle to overcome when you’re working on an indie budget. It took a lot of time, and a lot of vendors, but we eventually got it done.
“The protracted timeline also allowed for us to take some interesting chances,” he continues. “We actually brought young actress Sadie Brook back for some additional footage as an adult. When we shot the bulk of the movie, she was 11, and then we shot her again at 20. We also rescored a great deal of the movie with our friends in Two Star Symphony, and of course did a whole new sound mix. Our post sound guy, Greg Vossberg, whom we’ve been working with since PSYCHIC EXPERIMENT, was stoked to take another pass at it, because his stuff ‘sounds 10 years better now!’ ”
“It has truly been a trip to see how IMAGO morphed into IN THE BLOOD over the last few years,” says Wilcox, who plays Christine, Jennifer’s aunt and surrogate mother. “Since Mel and I have become close friends in the decade since we initially shot the movie, he has been keeping me up to date on all the iterations and changes. What always jumped out at me, and what’s still very much there in the final version, is the idea that memories can stay with you and haunt you, in some cases gaining so much power that they become real! And Natali did such a wonderful job at portraying this haunted, damaged young woman. Plus, they got me a cookie cake!”
“The last day of shooting The Movie Formerly Known As IMAGO also happened to be the 20th anniversary of NIGHTMARE 5’s release,” Warren explains. “There was blood and gore everywhere; I mean, literally everyone had blood on them. Right after we said, ‘That’s a wrap,’ Mel said ‘OK, who’s ready for some cake?’ Then he brought out a cookie cake with a red-and-green-striped baby carriage on it. It was a hilarious moment—we all were like, ‘Yeah, it’s time for some cake.’
“Of course, it being an entire decade later, lots of things have changed,” he adds. “I’m married, Mel is a dad, people shoot 4K now, etc. Unfortunately, we also lost some folks involved with the film as well during that time, and the movie is dedicated to them.”
In addition, Upstart’s Katelynn Bauer was diagnosed with lymphoma this past September, and the team has set up a benefit screening of IN THE BLOOD with all proceeds going to her treatment. It will take place Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m. in Houston, TX (venue to be disclosed to attendees upon purchase confirmation). Tickets can be ordered here.