I got the chance to sit down with director Christopher Wells while at Panic Fest Film Festival in Kansas City this past weekend to talk about the World Premiere of his film THE LURING. We talked about how the project came to be, and what he hopes audiences take away from the film. Take a look below and be sure to look out for future screenings of THE LURING.
Were you a genre fan before you got to work on The Luring?
Yes I grew up watching horror films and always loved them. From the classic black and whites Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, phantom of the Opera, to Halloween, Friday the 16th, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shinning, so on and so forth. I would stay up late and watch Tails From the Dark Side, The Twilight Zone and Elvira. I was too young to be allowed to go out like my sister and step brothers so instead I would stay up late and there were always horror films to keep me company. There’s a comfort in horror for me, as odd as that may sound. Some are super weird and may not be considered typical “horror” like the film Blue Velvet or really cheesy like Chopping Mall but I loved them all so my appreciation is very wide. I owe a lot to horror and The Luring is a culmination of my appreciation.
How did this project come to be and what the casting process like?
In 1989 my Mom and Dave, my step Dad bought a very small vacation house in Lyndonville Vermont which is about 20 minutes from St. Johnsbury which is where my Dad lives. I was lucky that they were all best friends and really got along. After when Dave died a few years ago my Mom wasn’t able to afford the taxes and the upkeep of the house and said she had to put it up for sale. It was devastating because that house was in our family for so long and it was hard enough losing Dave. He was always so supportive of my films so I thought about it and the next day I asked my Mom if it would be okay if I shot a film in the house and she agreed. Having a deadline was important because the house was being shown so that meant I didn’t have time to waste.
So we shot the first scene and showed that to investors and were able to raise enough money to move forward. Rising money wasn’t easy but it really took off when people saw that we had skin in the game and we had the business side of things all in order.
The last day of shooting I was on this amazing high of feeling like I accomplished a great feat and the next day I was on my hands and knees scrubbing the floors because the new owners were moving in later that week, it was crazy but wonderful and of course humbling. I learned a lot and I’m a much better filmmaker for it.
The casting was a lot of fun. We saw a ton of great actors, one of them was Rick Irwin who was our first “Garrett.” We thought he nailed it but of course we had to keep an open mind but the more we saw other actors come in the more it was clear Rick was the one so we called him in to see how he would play against some of the female leads and the dynamics between him and Michaela Sprague and Molly Fahey were undeniable. Michaela and Molly ability to dive into their characters and asked really good questions that made me as a director feel I made the best choice.
Dan Berkey who was cast from the first scene we shot to raise money was so good I expanded his role. That role extension really plays nicely to the dynamic of the film. Sometimes as a writer we are influenced by so many different things and it was his ability to bring something special to his character, I wanted to see more so I wrote it.
What does the title “The Luring” mean to you?
The Luring is something that takes notice of our faults, our insecurities, our small evil intentions and magnifies them to a level where we lose ourselves. The Luring entices us with whispers and gets the best of us and our curiosity. If you are jealous for instance The Luring would make that voice in your head the only sound of reason. I always wondered why people do evil things and fall victim to their uncontrollable urges that normal people can shut off. But what is the actual force that is somehow able to identify those who are weaker? That force is The Luring. Pure evil takes great pleasure in manipulating the vulnerable.
How did you go about depicting you lead’s downward spiral and how were you able to capture moments of that spiral on set?
I wanted to make sure the downward spiral made sense and didn’t just come out of nowhere. I needed to show how evil presents itself, what it would say or do to get into the mind of our main characters. Each person is different and so the approach is different. Our characters are curious and flawed, they want something from the other and they are hiding their intentions which puts them in situations that plays against themselves.
I wanted to also play with reality since the film has a lot to do with nightmares and perhaps in that state of sleep this evil force is able to have easier access to their mental state. Evil likes people who are vulnerable so it preys on our insecurities and inability to defend ourselves, that’s why it also targets kids which to me is the most evil thing anyone can do. When Garrett says “I’m not a child anymore” it’s because he was able to escape intact but he has no memory of what happened or who is responsible. Evil doesn’t like that and isn’t done with him.
Was it difficult treading the humor into the horror of the story?
I have a very fucked up sense of humor because I don’t always like to be obvious with my jokes. I tend to be drawn to humor that isn’t for everyone and makes the audience think a little bit. The people who get my humor really like it and the others who aren’t so sure at first, once they understand me and and realize some scenes or lines are meant to have a reaction, they become fans of my work. Most of my films have a very dark sense of humor to them and I love having an audience feel different things, even confusion at times. To me, to the people who don’t get my sense of humor, the jokes on them and that makes me laugh. It’s kind of fucked up to think that way but I have no desire to appease the masses, it’s the outcasts I am drawn to because they are the most interesting. I love weird and I love watching people react to my weirdness. Some people want to put my work in a box so they can have a sense of control since they think they can define it but I’m more interested in the people who just enjoy the many levels of The Luring and who “get it.” It’s like a secrete handshake, if everyone knows it then it loses its magical connection. It’s a delicate dance because it means I won’t appeal to everyone but it’s all intentional.
How did the world premiere of the film at Panic Fest go for you?
Amazing! Kansas City has great horror fans because they really enjoy the sick and twisted. Hearing the audience be entertained by my film was such an experience I’ll never forget. Rick and I were so excited to witness that. I felt like I was among people who get my sense of things. I was able to talk with a bunch of people who saw my film and their enthusiasm was contagious to Rick and I. It’s an honor when people come up to you and want to talk with you because you entertained them. They could have done something else with their time, they didn’t have to watch The Luring, they could have stayed home or done something else so it means a lot to me. Tim and Adam were great, really helpful and I can’t say enough about the amazing people I met at Panic Fest.
What is next for you?
Well there is a lot going on with The Luring so this takes up a lot of my time. I’m not allowed to say anything right now but soon I will be and announcing some updates on our website TheLuring.com so I can’t wait. As for other projects I have a few scripts I’m working on. One of my scripts is about a vampire on the run, another script is a psychedelic love story so it really depends on how they are developed and what other options I have out there.
Oddly enough someone who saw The Luring asked me if I was open to doing a sequel and I thought that was interesting, I’d be open to that for sure but I also like how the film ends and could be just as happy directing a totally new project I either wrote or someone else’s script. The Luring is a calling card and I plan on making more films.