Exclusive Interview with Tim Story, Director of The Blackening: Casting Choices and the Possibility of Kevin Hart.

There is a gag in this movie that made me laugh harder than anything in a long time. It’s just a small moment, but I think it’s in the trailer, so I think I can talk about it. There’s a moment where someone holds a gun sideways and then another character flips it up correctly, and it just destroyed. Was that in the script? Was that improvised? How did that happen? That was magical.

That is Jermaine Fowler. I have to give that one to Jermaine Fowler. The situation was obviously in the script. I’m not sure to this day, I don’t know whether he told Sinqua [Walls] what he was going to do. I don’t believe he did. Once he did that, and I think we were kind of joking on set about how when Sinqua went to go shoot, how it’s a cultural thing that you always want to shoot a gun sideways, which is about the worst way to shoot a gun. When he did that on set, we all laughed, and we just knew we had something. Those kind of little moments that, like you said, it’s so little, but if you get it, it really does make you laugh out loud.

More broadly, I think horror is having a bit of a moment right now. Was this movie in development before this horror boom? Or was this movie sort of a result of, “Okay, there’s this horror gold rush right now. We see the opportunity”? How did this come about?

Yeah, it’s weird to say this, this has almost been four years in the making. Dewayne Perkins created this short that went viral. I want to say it was 2018, if I’m not mistaken. And [co-writer] Tracy [Oliver] found him and said, “Look, I think we can make this idea into a feature.” And luckily, he agreed. It took them another year-ish to find the script. Then we ended up finally getting the script. I was a producer on it at the time, but read it and said, “Wow, this is really great.”

I thought the script was brilliant, and just hilarious, and just so smart. So I kind of raised my hand and said, “What if I came on as a director?” Even though, at the time, I was just supposed to be producing. We ended up making it. Literally, we look up and it’s been really four years in the making. It was around before the boom. Now we’re kind of finding a really good moment where, like you said, horror is having this moment right now. I think when you can put comedy inside of it as well, I think you kind of have an experience that could be pretty cool.

Oh, for sure. And you’re talking about two genres where comedy and horror are both arguably the hardest to pull off individually, then having to do both at the same time. But this movie does truly nail it. There is a lot of genuine horror in it. One of the things, your killer in this movie uses a crossbow. Jason’s got his machete. Michael’s got his kitchen knife. Leatherface has his chainsaw. How’d you guys arrive at a crossbow?

Yeah, I’m going to try to represent the writers as best as I can. I think one of the main ideas in figuring out what the killer was going to use is one, to be perfectly honest, we didn’t want to make something that killed too quickly. We wanted to be a little bit torturous where it could, if he got you, he might put a few in you, which I know sounds a little crazy. But we wanted to be able to extend some of the kill moments. We didn’t want to be too gory because although we were making kind of our version of a slasher movie, we didn’t want that to overpower the film in terms of the gore of it all.

Once you get into other things like axes or machetes or this and that, once somebody hit you with one of those, there’s only one way to go. I don’t want to give much away, but we knew where we were going and we knew that this weapon would be the best for us having a lot of fun. But at the same time, still pretty horrifying, which is in the trailer when you see these moments happening, for somebody to be chasing you and shooting things at you, it would be pretty terrifying. So it was definitely a choice, something that would allow us to have a lot of fun and extended moments throughout the film.


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