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Director Matt McWilliams Talks Debut Horror Flick Chupacabra Territory.

It’s official. Chupacabra Territory, the creature feature recently released on Blu-Ray and DVD through Invincible Pictures, is a monster movie hit. It’s almost sold out of its first disc pressing and it’s high on the charts despite debuting over a month ago! With the stunning, unprecedented success, I wanted to chat with the film’s writer and director, Matt McWilliams, a Minnesota native now living in California. After years of working behind-the-scenes on popular television series, Chupacabra Territory is McWilliams’ proud directorial debut. With that in mind, I wanted to know where his thought processes where when he decided to go forward with horror as his first picture. He says, “I have always loved the horror genre, but there was never really a fine lined decision to start with [that]. It came together rather organically. I had been pitching ideas to my producer, Chris Maltauro, for a while and Chupacabra Territory was the first one that really struck a chord with him. I think it really came together after I edited this short sizzle trailer for the movie. I sent it to Chris  and he sent it to a video-on-demand company he was working with and they loved it. So, that was our green light!”

With a title like Chupacabra Territory, obviously the horror flick starring Sarah Nicklin, Michael Reed, Alex Hayek and Bryant Jansen lends itself to a plot that follows unfortunate young people crossing paths with the devilish goat blood sucker. Believed by many to be a real life undiscovered species or an abomination of nature, the elusive chupacabra isn’t nearly as popular as cryptid brethren like The Loch Ness Monster and The Werewolf. Yet Mr. McWilliams took the underrated baddy and turned him into a point of interest in 2017, and his decision was simple. “I wanted to showcase a monster that hadn’t been overdone. The chupacabra has been a widely neglected cryptic in US films. The Yeti monster, for example, we have seen represented so many times the first thing that comes to mind is a big hairy white ape that lives in the mountains. The chupacabra, however, is a lot more illusive in its imagery. In fact, there are many contrasting representations of this creature; some very far fetched and some very simple.  Because of this, I felt the chupacabra had a lot of potential to be molded into whatever the story needed and also provided leeway into some creative interpretations.”

Stylistically, Chupacabra Territory was filmed as a found footage feature, presumably to give it a more gritty, earthy feel while showcasing man vs. the hidden dangers of nature. Previously Matt McWilliams worked on reality shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” and I wondered if working the camera in a non-narrative way in the past influenced his style during principal photography of this movie. Despite being grateful for his television experiences, McWilliams shot down that notion and gave praise to his real influences. He clarifies, “[That] didn’t really play a factor in my decision to shoot Chupacabra Territory found footage. It did give me a better understanding of some of the filming aspects though, but my main influence was Gordy Hoffman’s film – A Coat of Snow. I remember watching it and actually forgetting that it was a film and not a home video recording. It wasn’t until later I realized how amazing that experience was and how real it felt to me. I think the genre has an incredible ability to draw the audience into a story and make them feel like they are part of the action. That’s how I wanted Chupacabra Territory to be. I wanted the audience to come along for the ride.”

“Our principal shoot was eight days with three days of re-shoots and some stop motion CG shoots for the chupacabra. Cast and crew were all living together in an unfinished one bedroom apartment so we were like one big family. It was a fast and demanding shoot especially when you consider that we were up in the mountains the entire time mostly doing night shoots,” Matt expands on his time spend during principal photography. “It was also October, so the nights were incredibly cold. Sarah Nicklin was running around in a tank top and mini-skirt the whole time. After every take we had to throw a down-jacket on her just to keep her warm. I believe she also ended up with poison ivy after the shoot, so needles to say she was a trooper. Wind was another factor that pretty much killed any smoke effect we were trying to achieve. We were fighting the elements here and there, but overall everyone had fun and I think it added to the film.” Their efforts were clearly worth it!

Filming may not have always been a breeze – literally – but the story concept came naturally to the up-and-coming writer/director. Having watched and reviewed Chupacabra Territory myself, I made sure to point out in my article that this feature incorporates several unexpected plot progressions into the over-arching story. Although every tale – or tail – comes in a certain format, McWilliams found it easy to weave a more intricate story into Chupacabra Territory. He explains, “All films follow a similar story and found footage is no different. For Chupacabra Territory, I wanted to branch out from the norm and create a story that had more to it than the viewer was expecting. Something familiar yet different. Adding in other elements was the first step in combining different aspects of the horror genre with the conventional found footage narrative. I also took this same liberty with the chupacabra monster. It’s always difficult adding to a monster that is already established, but we laid the groundwork for some aspects of the creature that have some great potential and I think it paid off.”

Capping off my interview with Matt McWilliams, I wanted to hear his personal thoughts on the success of the movie while also directing his new fans to any upcoming projects. He gushes, “Overall, I’ve been very pleased with the response the film has received. There have been some overwhelmingly positive, well thought and well written reviews. And of course there is a flip side to that. That’s just the reality of film-making. But we knew we had a fun and entertaining creature feature and the responses that we have received so far confirms that. I have been in development on several scripts since finishing Chupacabra Territory. Currently, I am in pre-production for a dark short film I will be shooting in the summer. In addition to that, I am finishing up two other scripts; one of them being the sequel to Chupacabra Territory, so keep your eyes out for that!”

We’re getting a sequel? Sweet! Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to chat with me, Matt. If anyone is interested in viewing Chupacabra Territory, you can find it at the following links:

Best Buy:

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)