BY DOUG JOHNSON
It didn’t occur to California-based director Patrick Phillips that he could shoot his movie in Edmonton.
The film, titled The Black, relies heavily on bodies of water in which the horror narrative can drown unsuspecting youth for its concept.
The films editor, the locally -based David Puff, was the one who clued Phillips in that Alberta, despite its flat fields, also has some prime and remote lakes, ideal for establishing suspense in a flick of this kind.
“He was the one who said I could shoot it here. The film takes place in water so I didn’t think I could, but it turns out Edmonton has some great lake areas,” Phillips said.
The small crew will begin shooting The Black near Barrhead, just north of Edmonton. While some of the crew is based in Los Angeles, others are locally-sourced; the same goes for the small, 10-member ensemble that make up the cast, more than half of whom come from Alberta.
Phillips expects shooting to finish up in early August, but the special effects, which for this movie are essential, will push post-production into a three-month timeline.
“It does take a long time. This film does require a lot of visual effects: four to six weeks on those alone. It should be ready by the end of October,” Phillips said.
The premise of the film is that every 20 years something happens to the water; it turns black, as the film name implies, and becomes evil and semi-conscious. Anything that touches this cursed water becomes infected, and the water itself will actively seek out the infected and try to drown them in its depths, even if they’re on land.
“I used a Supermoon as my guide,” Phillips said.
The Black follows a group of youth who catch wind of the phenomenon and attempt to explore it by travelling to an isolated island in the middle of a lake. In true horror flick fashion, they come face to face with the evil forces at work, left deliberately ambiguous, and enlist the help of a man who survived the dark water, not without scars, 20 years prior.
Spoiler alert: everyone except one character dies.
“The way it ends is left open for a sequel,” he said.
“It’s never been done really. You see a lot of horror films that have your typical ghosts. I’ve never seen anything done with the water.”
According to Phillips, the film differs from standard horror films in that the characters, apart from their initial venture to seek out the cursed water, act intelligently, and the film lacks the kind of “don’t go in there” situational irony that hallmarks the genre.
“Once it’s started, they want to get away from it but they can’t.”
The filmmakers also released a short film, related in concept but not in narrative to the feature, titled The Black: Infected, you can watch it here.
“We never really come to grips with exactly what it is,” he said. “We kind of want to leave that open for future exploration.”