I had the opportunity to interview the director of Death of Me, Darren Lynn Bousman, who’s most known for his work on Saw II through IV movies, gives deep insight into his latest movie. Please note this interview does contain some spoilers about his recent film.
BARON CRAZE: Why did you choose to incorporate black magic/ voodoo influence?
DARREN LYNN BOUSMAN: It’s actually not voodoo that was the original premise of the movie and we wanted to try and make it more relevant to the landscape to what we were filming – we were filming in southeast Asia and we tried to figure out a new mythology that the fans may have not seen before which we went with a partially made up and kind of based on some old folklore version of a religious belief – since I’ve been a kid I’ve always been fascinated with faith and beliefs and so I’m drawn to movies that have faith and beliefs as well
BC: With so many cinema fans taking offense with cultural representation was that something you were concern or careful about showing?
DLB: I don’t think so – First off if anything the islanders are the corrupt ones here – everything they were saying happens does happen – one of the things for me was that this movie doesn’t portray the islanders as the villains they were doing what they have to do to survive to protect their elders and children which was #1. And #2 what we tried to do was cast the island and the inhabitants as coming from other places in the world and the main one which we spent the most time with is the westerners are kind of the key manipulators of Christine showing we don’t come from one place we come from many places on an island of gypsies & travelers so the idea is the island has power and the people come to this island seeking power … I think she says she’s from the States and came there with her daughter to seek the magic – I think we were all very cautious – at the end of the movie we fictionalized the belief system they had we were all very careful to make sure that we weren’t trying to hit on a real belief system.
BC: That was one of the things I was really curious about. I research a film, I really get into a movie and tear it apart and dig in and couldn’t find but find pieces of different philosophies researching a film but couldn’t find one that could exactly fit your movie so that’s why I started to think that it was parts of mythology put together and I always want to be care when I review a film that I don’t misrepresent a cultural representation in a film so I just one to make sure of that.
DLB: Yes, one of the things that was interesting about Thailand was that they are very posh as well in letting people come into film and they are not making a mockery of their religion and religious beliefs and I think we tried especially with the producers and Thai crew that we approached this in a way that wasn’t taking real beliefs and kind of made it fictional we went and found some old folklore and took some ideas and used them to make our own kind of crazy thriller.
BC: Maggie Q did an excellent performance – why / was her character pre-ordained to be the chosen one?
DLB: That’s a great question, no she wasn’t it could have been anyone and one of the things which we try to make very subtle – [reads from a book about a human sacrifice] – it’s widely rumored under the city pillars lies bones of people that were sacrificed and become guardian spirts of the town writing about the history according to some cultures there was a public announcement that some people would not allow before the installation of the town pillar could take place. That during the night some people would allow others to call out the evil spirits and most would not answer back and if one did, they would be sacrificed before the town. So the idea was that in the legend/folklore they would go knock on doors and the first one to answer would be the one sacrificed so the characters of Christine and Neil they were at that bar and a woman comes around asking everyone if they want shots that was like knocking on the door – so everyone turns their back and turned it down except them – are you sure you want this? And then she gives them that first drink which sets the events into action – so it could have been anyone they weren’t picked, forced or brought there they were at the wrong place at the wrong time.
BC: Why does her character seem to vanish at different times?
DLB: So one of the things I tried to do as a filmmaker is one of my favorite things is not to actually answer (of course I will for you) but there are 2 different paths on the screen one could everything that happened could be supernatural or is it a supernatural answer and two being manipulated by the town so in the case of Christine going missing if you look at it through Christine’s eyes she’s in this crazy weird temple with these faceless women doing terrible acts on her. So when re-watching the movie they are giving Christine or Neil the drug or smoothies or food at the beach café and the doctor try to give her chemicals and in the end it’s a hallucinogenic drug so throughout the movie you could follow one of two paths is it super natural and is going to an in between place or it’s complete natural and the town is messing with her – you could give the audience both ways but it seems that it’s been leaned to her being drugged.
BC: Which is the most difficult scene to do and did it change from the original script concept?
DLB: First it was amazing to go to a place so beautiful as Thailand as well as the people were amazing but it was difficult because you’re dealing with the language barrier so I think that as a director my job is to communicate with the cast & crew and try to tell them exactly what I want and in Thailand you’re dealing with translators and there’s always something a little off in the translation especially trying to film the movie as quickly as we did. So I think the lost in translation was one of the hardest things for us because you’re trying to explain something and there are cultural differences and trying to explain what I think is dark and edgy that could have a different meaning based on the culture looks to the production or even the set – being able to communicate was one of the biggest challenges especially for the short and rapid time.
BC: Thank you for a great interview!