EXCLUSIVE: One genre movie that electrified almost all of us at The Playlist last year was “Kill List,” from writer/director Ben Wheatley. A kind of domestic drama/hitman thriller/suburban comedy/horror movie, it wowed us when we first got a gander of it at SXSW, and then tickled even more of us at the Empire Big Screen Festival in its native U.K. Well, it’s finally about to be released in the United States, and while we’ll have more from our interview with Wheatley before “Kill List” hits theaters, we first wanted to offer some updates on various projects the filmmaker has in the works, including the Edgar Wright-produced “Sightseers,” his Nick Frost vehicle “I, Macrobane,” and the very cool-sounding monsters versus cops movie called “Freak Shift.”
About whether or not “Sightseers” — his Edgar Wright-produced dark comedy that he described to us as “a bit like ‘The Honeymoon Killers,’ but based around camping” — will debut at SXSW this year, Wheatley wasn’t sure. “We are showing it to Edgar Wright tomorrow,” Wheatley said with a laugh. “So we’ll see. It might be SXSW 2013. We’re showing the director’s cut tomorrow so we’re showing to the Big Talk people and then we’re going to do a round of viewings for the financers next week. We’ll see what state it’s in. We’re pretty happy with it — it’s pretty much there; the music is all there so it’s go-go-gadget from our end. But you never can tell.”
As for “I, Macrobane,” which will star Nick Frost along with Wheatley regulars Michael Smiley, Neil Maskell and MyAnna Buring, and is a film he described as “slightly psychedelic,” it’s still on target to be next, after he wraps up “Sightseers.” “It’s all waiting for ‘Sightseers’ to get sorted and once that’s done we can start talking about it,” Wheatley said. “It’s scheduled for the middle of the year, and we’ve got some finance bollocks to deal with, but it’s in good shape. The principles all want to do it and the script is being redone at the moment and the storyboards are all done. So it’s in an advanced stage.”
Wheatley is also working on the awesome-sounding “Freak Shift,” which should open up the scope a little bit and let the filmmaker play with some brand new toys. “It’s a cops versus monsters thing we’re doing,” Wheatley said. “We’re doing test shoots and storyboards and rewrites at the moment on that. I’m hoping ‘Macrobane’ first and then getting at ‘Freak Shift’ at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.”
When we pressed for story details, he let a few slip: “It’s an adventure/sci-fi thing. It’s like ‘Hill Street Blues,'” Wheatley said, making a fairly incredible comparison. “It’s about a crew that’s built up this armored vehicle and they go out and have to respond to 911 calls about these big monsters that have come out of the ground.” He went on to descibe the creatures: “They come out of the ground every night but there are different creatures — there are these massive half-monkey mutant things and loads of weird spiders and shit.” Wheatley explained that working on the designs for the monsters has been a thrill, as it’s allowed him to tap into some childlike glee, “It’s been cool. I’m a big collector of comics, so I’ve been talking to a bunch of old ‘2000 A.D.‘ artists and they’ve been doing artwork for it. And we’ve got some 3D models of the creatures, which we’re going to test this month.”
The director has even been working on the costumes for “Freak Shift.” “I’ve been down to the army surplus store buying up all of the chemical warfare suits,” Wheatley laughed. “It’s actually not chemical warfare. You get these things for jumping out the side of helicopters — it’s like a half all-in-one, half wetsuit. It’s fucking amazing.” We figured that these suits would be perfect for battling monsters, but Wheatley says they serve a more specific purpose: “You don’t want to get blood on you or you’ll get infected.”
Additionally, Wheatley will contribtue to “The ABCs of Death,” a horror anthology film put together by the Alamo Drafthouse’s Tim League, which features a whopping 26 short films by directors like Ti West (“House of the Devil,” “The Innkeepers“), Nacho Vigalondo (“Timecrimes“), and Bruno Forzani & Helene Cattet (“Amer“). While he was hesitant to give us specifics, he disclosed that “We’re shooting ours next week. It’s very, very violent, is all I’ll say. Although mine will probably be nothing compared to the tsunami of blood some of the guys will bring.” He estimated that his segment would probably run “two and a half minutes,” and that he guesses that the whole film will be done by the end of January. In other words: if “Sightseers” doesn’t make it in time for SXSW, there’s a very real possibility that he’ll be there with “ABCs of Death.”
“Kill List” is available on VOD right now, and will hit theaters on February 3rd.