British writer-director Ben Wheatley made a cult splash with his critically acclaimed 2010 gangster movie Down Terrace, a film EW’s Lisa Schwarzbaum hailed as “a dark and hilarious thwomping of the whole miserablist British gangster genre” in the course of her “A-” review. Now Wheatley is boggling the minds of terror fans with his second feature, the brutal hit men-horror movie Kill List, which earned Michael Smiley the Best Supporting Actor trophy at last year’s British Independent Film Awards and which is currently on theatrical release and available on VOD.
But what has Wheatley done (for us) lately? Quite a lot, as it turns out. Below, the director talks about his currently-in-post-production third movie Sightseers, his contribution to horror anthology The ABC’s of Death, and three more projects he’s got in the pipeline. Why the rush? “We’ve got an opportunity to make stuff at the moment,” Wheatley says. “But that might not last forever. And we want to get as many movies as we can done.”
“That’s a comedy. It’s kind of lighter and sillier and funny. It doesn’t have any of the horrible, sickening violence that Kill List has. I just thought I’d better make something that’s not Kill List. And I didn’t write it either, so that’s a new experience for me. It’s like a road movie about people who go caravanning, They don’t know each that well and the guy turns out to be a serial killer. I liked the script because he’s like a class warrior. He murders everyone. But posh people, they’re the first to go.”
THE ABC’S OF DEATH
“We’ve done it and we’re really happy with it. It was a good laugh. Who f—ing knows what that’s going to be like. The budget’s f— all. We sent off the one [idea] we wanted to do and they said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s great.’ Then we just didn’t do it. We did something else. So we went back to them and said we’ve changed our minds about it. They went, ‘Well, we’ve shot all the titles and stuff.’ We were like, ‘Tough.’ That’s going to be a crazy bag of madness. 26 shorts. Is that going to work? I dunno. Hope so.”
MEGA EVIL MOTHERF—ERS
“That’s a claymation film. That’s in the early days. It’s kind of about a mixed, high security prison. Men and women together, fighting it out. It’s just the most violent thing ever made.”
“We’ve got development money to do Freak Shift, which is a cops versus monsters film. We’re redrafting that, and storyboarding it, getting artwork done and we’ve done a test shoot with the creature test. So that’s really exciting. I think that will happen. Generally, in the industry, people are going, ‘Ooh, we want it, we want it.’ I think that will be the big step up. It’s still low budget. But it has the potential to do really well.”
“That is based on a comic strip I wrote, that was online, and it’s about these guys who are best mates at school and then they burn the school down and cause all sorts of mayhem. They get called in front of the judge who says, ‘You’re never allowed to see each other again, your both going to prison.’ And one of them, Macrobane, escapes and the other one, Terry, goes to prison. When Terry gets into kind of his late thirties he bumps into Macrobane in the street. And Macrobane has been apparently a deep sea diver, he invented the Internet, he’s been a spy, all these potential lies. Terry’s really confused but they pick up their friendship again and go on this kind of rampage. [Entertainment Weekly: A lot of your films seem to feature rampages. You've already filmed more rampages than Woody Allen has in 40-odd films.] But that’s the problem with Woody Allen movies. There’s not enough rampages. I’d be the first one to say that. [Michael] Smiley’s in that, hopefully, as well, playing a character called George Clooney. But not the George Clooney. Just a George Clooney.”
You can check out the trailer for Kill List below.
‘You wanna see something really scary?’: How anthology movies became horror’s hot new trend
Guns, drugs, and… folk music!: British director Ben Wheatley talks about his new gangster movie, ‘Down Terrace’