Director Declan O'Brien talks Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings, shooting in an old mental institution, the incredible amount of blood he used, and much more
Back in March, I had the chance to visit the set of Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, where I got to meet director Declan O'Brien and his cast. I recently had the chance to speak with Declan O'Brien again, to discuss the Blu-ray and DVD release of this horror prequel, which will arrive on October 25. This new movie takes us back to the early days of the cannibal brothers Three Finger, Saw-Tooth, and One-Eye, as they feast on a group of young college friends who lose their way. Here's what the director had to say below.
You directed the third movie, and you talked a bit on the set about what you wanted to do with this fourth movie, bringing it back to the roots of the franchise. Can you talk about crafting that initial concept?
Declan O'Brien: What I really wanted to do with this one, is to give audiences another turn. If we keep on going down the same road, with the same type of movie, and there's nothing different, well, why would people want to come back? The good thing between Wrong Turn's 1, 2, 3, and now 4, is each one is different. Each one has a different tone, each one has a different setting, a different cast of characters. With this one, I wanted to go back and do a prequel and tell the origin story of how these cannibal hillbillies came about, and why they're there. We explained all that in the pre-title sequence, and it's quite a long one, about 10 minutes before the title. Then we cut from 1974 to 2003, before the events of the first movie took place, the winter before.
That was quite a find you had, with that hospital. It was cool just walking around and exploring and seeing how naturally creepy that place really was. Can you talk about how big of a find that place was for you?
Declan O'Brien: Finding the Brandon mental health facility, which included the original equipment in it, and 250,000 square feet, four floors, original shock machines, it was just huge. You can't really recreate that. It was built in 1910 and it was a scary place to shoot too.
I was getting creeped out just walking around there.
Declan O'Brien: Well, I'll give you a little anecdote. You know the earphones I listen with, the headphones that pick up the boom microphones and stuff like that? Well, every night, we would usually change floors. I would usually have one thing on one floor, and another thing on another floor. Instead of going back to my trailer, because that would take too long and it's too cold, I never saw the inside of my trailer, I would just set up a little room, with a desk and my laptop and my coat, all that stuff, on each floor. I would set up a room on each floor we were shooting. We were set up on the second floor one night, and we finished up on the first floor. I forgot to change out all my stuff from the second floor to the first floor, so it was still sitting up there. We call wrap, and I'm finding myself walking down a very dark second floor hallway with a flashlight in my hand, like one of my characters, when I hear something whisper into my ear. I don't know what the words were, but it was something like, 'Where is he? Did you find him?' It was something like that, and you could've peeled me off the ceiling, because somebody was talking into the boom microphone on the other floor, but it sounded like they were right in my ear. So I ripped off my headphones, grabbed my stuff, and ran for the bus.
(Laughs) That's awesome. Can you talk a bit about finding this cast? I believe they are all local Canadian actors, so can you talk about assembling this team together, and what they really brought to the table?
Declan O'Brien: We looked all throughout Canada, Vancouver, Winnepeg, Toronto, Montreal. It was kind of like a nationwide Canada casting search. I went to various places and auditioned people, and I was just looking for the right mix of personalities, and I think we found a very, very good cast. Each and every person is very distinct and brings out the characters' personalities, and they're a bit like their characters. It was natural.
I thought it was cool, because you often see, in movies like this, there's the jock and all these other archetypes. You have these characters set up, but they're not quite the same ones we're used to seeing.
Declan O'Brien: Yeah, they're not on the nose. I think they're a little more realistic of what college kids are like. They're individual enough that you get to actually understand their motivations and care about what happens to them. Yeah, they're not your classic cardboard characters you just kill.
It was impressive, watching on the set, the amount of blood you were using. I just got to see the film, and it was a lot of fun and there are some really bloody moments in there. How far did you really want to take the level of blood and gore in this?
Declan O'Brien: It was like Carrie times 10, right? For that hanging scene? Where Victor (Zinck Jr.) is underneath her and trying to pull her down? I had to shoot some continuity of what he would look like after, before the scene. The makeup people said to me, 'We don't know how he's going to look after the blood falls on him, so how do you want to do it?' I said, 'It's simple. Take a bucket of blood and dump it over his head.' (Laughs) He's going to be covered. That way, you don't have to worry about continuity so much (Laughs). That shot where he turns around and looks at his girlfriend's neck still pumping, and we push into him with that huge scream, that's one of my favorite shots. It's hysterical.
Yeah. You have some great screamers on this cast too.
Declan O'Brien: That was pretty brutal, wasn't it?
Yeah. I was not expecting that. When I was on the set, I saw the hanging scene, so it set me up a little bit, so I knew it would be very bloody and very gory. I was cool with that, but that fondue scene, I was not expecting at all. That was really awesome though.
Declan O'Brien: It takes it to a whole other level. What's funny, for me, is I find it really, really horrific, but perversely funny at the same time. They have a guy dying, being eaten alive, and the other one wants to take a vote (Laughs), whether or not they want to go.
The thing I liked about the fondue scene, is when you think of cannibals, you think about these guys gnawing on flesh. With this, it's like they're cooking. It was hilarious to me. I guess it's kind of wrong that I thought it was hilarious, but it was still hilarious.
Declan O'Brien: It is hilarious. One of our promotional items is the Cannibal Cookbook, so make sure you get a copy (Laughs).
Is there something about the production, either a scene you shot or something else, that will really stick out when you think back about Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings?
Declan O'Brien: Well, listen, I just have to say, Brian, I had a really fun time shooting this movie. I had a very good cast, very nice people, and a really hard-working crew. There were horrible conditions, but no drama. We got lucky with the Brandon site. I mean, being out in Brandon for 10 days, that's like going on a camping trip from hell. It was just so much fun. I really, really enjoyed making the movie, and I think everybody else did too, and everybody really stepped up. For doing a movie in 19 days, of this scope and size, it was pretty challenging.
Do you see this as the end of this franchise? If there's a way, would you come back to direct a fifth one?
Declan O'Brien: Sure. I mean, it really depends, I'm sure, on the numbers for the DVD, but if it does as well as Wrong Turn 3 did, I'm sure we'll be talking about it again. Fox really likes the franchise, and it's really fun and challenging, thinking up new ways to kill people on film that hasn't been seen before. I don't think we've seen the fondue scene, I don't think we've seen the snowmobile shredding scene, so that sort of stuff makes me happy, gives me a sense of accomplishment. I wouldn't mind trying to top myself.
Where would you see the brothers though, story-wise? What do you think would work with them, coming off of this movie?
Declan O'Brien: Oh yeah. You set the next one in between this movie and the first movie. You still have the three brothers alive, and a whole new story to tell, how they get that cabin in the woods of theirs.
Very true. That would definitely work. I believe you're also writing a movie called Hijacked. That has a really good cast as well. Is there anything you can say about that, or where you are in the process right now?
Declan O'Brien: Yeah, Vinnie Jones and Dominic Purcell are in it. This is a movie I wrote some years ago that I was going to direct, some years back. We were getting a star attached and I had to go off and make another movie. What the producers did is they brought another writer-director in, so they shot in Louisiana, I think, last month. It was a pleasant surprise to get the call saying, 'Hey, we're making your movie.'
Finally, what would you like to say to either fans of the franchise or horror fans in general about why they should pick up Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings on Blu-ray or DVD on October 25?
Declan O'Brien: I think Wrong Turn 4 gives you a great mix of suspense and terror, along with gonzo, over the top horror. It mixes pretty well, so for fans of slasher films, they'll get what they want. For fans of traditional horror, they'll get the frights that they wanted as well. Hopefully they'll like it.
Great. Well, that's all I have, Declan. Thanks for talking to me. It was good speaking with you again.
Declan O'Brien: Good talking to you again too. Thank you so much.
You can pick up Declan O'Brien's Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings on Blu-ray and DVD starting October 25. In case you missed it, you can CLICK HERE to read my set visit report for Wrong Turn 4: Bloody Beginnings.