Most of you horror nuts out there are familiar with the name David Hackl, because he's not only a veteran of the horror genre, but he's used his expertise and visual style to bring the Saw series to life, and had a key role in the franchises overall success. Most notably, he was the director of Saw V. Recently, he's completed his directorial effort on Grizzly, which is slated for a release later this year. And now, Hackl is back in the horror genre to deliver a very unconventional film that's both original and most intriguing, titled Earthworks. Earthworks takes place in the setting of World War 1, and promises to be unlike anything you've seen before!
"Earthworks is the story of 5 US soldiers who get lost int he fog of No Man's Land on a routine excursion. Unable to find their way back, they find that something unknown is directing them away from their trench. It is a tense and atmospheric psychological horror."
Hackl and the UK based production team have gone the crowdfunding route on this one, and you can help out by donating whatever you can to their Kickstarter campaign, HERE.
Here's some concept art that's been released:
I recently had the awesome opportunity to interview David about his upcoming project:
Grimm: How did the concept/idea for Earthworks come about?
Hackl: I was sent Michael Gilvary's script by my agent and I immediately loved it. It was very atmospheric and tense and I felt that the film has to have corkscrew turning tension run through it, to create a constant sense of fear and for that I am using very traditional suspense-based techniques. I like to think of it as The Shining in the trenches.
Grimm: What about World War 1 intrigued you to want to make a horror film in that setting?
Hackl: With the centenary of the start of the WW1 and I had been watching a lot of stuff about the horrors of that war and it seemed poignant to take this on at this time. One of the things that makes horror great is that it can make you feel the horror of a situation without living and it creates long-lasting understanding and empathy with the people who have lived it.
Grimm: Being known and respected for directing Saw V, what can fans of your work expect from Earthworks?
Hackl: They will get all the scares and some of the gore they expect but there will also be something more, a sense of the psychological horror these young men, and some women, went through.
Grimm: Having designed the Saw franchise, can we expect some wicked visuals from Earthworks?
Hackl: Of course! We are building the trenches and No Man's Land inside a studio so we can control the smoke, explosions, air, rain and other elements. We want to create a richness of texture in the pitch of the night and an almost angelic lightness and creepiness to the daytime scenes. We are going to create this dense fog which I want to treat as a character in its own right, it's presence is ominous and it has to have that Victorian London fog feel about it.
Grimm: How will Earthworks be different from your other directorial efforts?
Hackl: Earthworks has a strong psychological thriller element to it which has to work alongside the horror and it also has a historical vein which I will do justice to. The marrying of these three things brings about, to my mind, a unique story and in some ways a more classic and elegant movie. There is a lot more subtext and I think that you will be thinking about it long after you have left the theatre. From a technical point of view, it is more complex because of the extensive set building but also because the creation of tension requires a lot planning, precise camera-work and razor sharp editing.
Grimm: Can we expect a lot of gore, or is Earthworks going to be more grounded around suspense?
Hackl: It will have both. The suspense will be with you right from the get-go and it will increase throughout the film but there is also gore. It is handled very carefully and some if it is quite spectacular in its unveiling. I can't say much more without giving something away.
Grimm: In one way or another, are there any films that inspired Earthworks that you'd like to credit? And are there any existing movies that you'd compare Earthworks to?
Hackl: In terms of story and setting, and the way in which it written, no. There are certain films which have that kind of suspense and use similar film-making techniques: The Others, The Orphanage, The Shining, The Fog, even Assault in Precinct 13 has that build up of tension and 'pregnant with fear' feeling, in fact anything by John Carpenter I am very much looking to the classics for Earthworks.
Grimm: What can those who follow Earthworks and/or donate to the Kickstarter campaign expect from the movie upon viewing it?
Hackl: I think they will walk away having enjoyed it as a horror and will be hooked by the psychological thriller aspect of it. It will be haunting and I hope that haunting extends beyond the film, to the young men who actually died in Europe.
Grimm: What separates Earthworks from the typical horror movies of today?
Hackl: It's not a horror made in one interior location. There are a lot of these and they are remarkably good considering the lower budgets they are made on but Earthworks is a broader canvas. The scale and style of it is bigger and broader than most horrors of today. Also it is a period film, it deals with a war which is largely unknown to much of the world and to many generations of our countries who fought there. There is a historical perspective, I cannot remember the last time I saw that in a horror.
Grimm: You've got a bright young cast lined up with Daryl Sabara, Michael Zegen, and Adam Butcher. Can you tell me how enthusiastic you are to be working with them, and what will we see from them in Earthworks that we haven't seen them do before on screen?
Hackl: They are a great bunch of actors and it is amazing to me how much they have already achieved, you just have to look at the roll-call of directors and actors they have worked with: Martin Scorsese, David Hayter, Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth, Alejandro Amenabar, Antonio Banderas, Ethan Hawke, Steve Buscemi, Woody Harrelson...I mean these guys have been busy! Earthworks will really push them into tougher emotional and psychological territory. I am looking forward to what these guys will come up with.
So, that's my Q&A with the director, and now it's your turn! It's easy, just post your questions in the comment section and David will respond!. Ask whatever you wish about the movie-making business, and have fun. Just remember to please be courteous and respectful.
Sound off! What questions do you have for David Hackl?