SplatterFilms.com dissects the After Dark Horror Fest selection

The selections for this year's After Dark HorrorFest 2007 were released recently, and one of those flicks is Matt Leutwyler's Unearthed. The movie stars Emmanuelle Vaugier, Luke Goss, Beau Garrett and Charlie Murphy. Our own Mushy recently discussed the film with writer-director Leutwyler.

How did you come up with the idea for Unearthed?

Matt Leutwyler: After doing the comedic musical horror Dead and Breakfast I wanted to try something a little more straight. I have always been a huge fan of Alien and Carpenter's The Thing. I also wanted to make a horror film with a female protagonist that has her own baggage and demons to deal with in addition to being the one that is supposed to protect the rest of the gang. Fortunately, Emmanuelle made it pretty easy since she brings both the vulnerability and the necessary aggressive presence to pull it off, not to mention the fact that she was a total pro on the set and the rest of the cast took their lead from her.

Since it seems that audiences have gotten a bit comfortable with certain forms of violence and on screen scares, in what ways did you try and subvert their expectations with Unearthed?

Matt Leutwyler: Well, actually Unearthed is not that gory. Most of the scares come from not seeing the creature but feeling its presence. You do see some post attack imagery and some swift violent attacks but its not like Saw or Hostel in its approach to violence. We were always making a throw back to the creature feature films of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

What was the most difficult part of making Unearthed?

Matt Leutwyler: Too much to even go in to. All in all this was an extremely frustrating film to do. The budget really limited what could be accomplished with the creature in particular. I'm also not sure if I will ever be interested in shooting another film that takes place at night outside. Shooting all nights in the desert is very difficult on crew and cast alike. Post production hit a huge snag with the Digital Intermediate company that we originally used. The entire film had to be rescanned by another company after we finally decided to cut our losses with the original company. We must have lost 8 months on that alone.

Is there something you learned while making Unearthed that you didn't know before? Something that hit you after the production was over?

Matt Leutwyler: I know more than any director will ever need to know about the Digital Intermediate process. There are a lot of other technical things that I would have done differently but its all rather boring to tell.

Why do you think horror films are so popular now? They seem bigger than they've ever been.

Matt Leutwyler: Not so sure that is still true. Horror never really went away in my estimation. Audiences love to get scared. Now, I do think that the marketplace is glutted with horror product so there is probably too much out there to get seen and that's why there is appears to be an adjustment going on in terms of how many horror films are being produced. But there will always be horror films out there

What's it like being involved with the AFTER DARK HORROR FEST? Do you feel that maybe it's like Sundance for Horror Films?

Matt Leutwyler: My friend Mike Mendez had his film in it last year and they did a nice job with it so we are very excited to be part of Horrorfest.

What are you working on next?

Matt Leutwyler: Lots of different things. Most outside of the genre. Sim Sarna and I are currently producing Lower Learning with my company Ambush and Starz Media / Anchor Bay. It's a comedy directed by first timer Mark Lafferty that is hilariously subversive. It stars Jason Biggs, Rob Corddry and Eva Longoria, who I think is going to really surprise people in this. Ambush is also about to wrap the drama Wonderful World with Matthew Broderick and Sanaa Lathan down in Louisiana. My Ambush partner Miranda Bailey and I have a couple of others that we are producing early next year including my next directorial effort Below The Surface. We are working with Sekretagent Productions on that one which is a bit of a psychological thriller in the vein of Jacob's Ladder. I'm also putting together a non-profit called GYDE (www.thegydeproject.org), a virtual cultural exchange program that plans to work with youth around the globe making personal docs about their individual lives and communities.

Unearthed and the other horror films of After Dark's HorrorFest 2007 can be seen in theaters from November 9-18.