Courtesy photos/Juri photo by Sandro Baebler
EXCLUSIVE: The Hour and Suffragette actress Romola Garai is to make her feature directorial debut on upcoming horror Outside, I can reveal. Carla Juri (Blade Runner 2049), Alec Secareanu (Gods Own Country) and Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake) will lead cast in the movie, which is scheduled to go into production this fall. AMP International is handling world sales and will introduce the project to buyers in Cannes. Deals have already closed in German speaking Europe (Ascot Elite), Latin America (Imagem) and The Middle East (Front Row).
The contained horror, which is also scripted by Garai, tells of a young male refugee traumatised by war who is brought to a dilapidated house in order to care for a woman and her dying mother. Falling in love with the younger woman he begins to suspect she is enslaved to a demon and resolves to fight the creature and rescue the woman he loves…but all is not what it seems.
Matthew James Wilkinson of Stigma Films, currently in pre-production on the Untitled Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film for Working Title Films/Universal, is producing. Damian Jones (The Iron Lady) is executive producer as are James Norrie, Bob Portal and Inderpal Singh for AMP. Anna Kennedy was casting director.
Rising Swiss actress Juri, who most recently played Dr. Ana Stelline in Blade Runner 2049 and also stars in Peter Greenaways upcoming title Walking To Paris, got her breakout in 2013 German hit Wetlands. Romanian actor Secareanu was BIFA-nominated for his performance in UK breakout Gods Own Country. Oscar-nominated stage and screen veteran Staunton is well known for performances in Mike Leighs Vera Drake and her role as Aunt Lucy in Paddington and Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter franchise.
Garai, Golden Globe-nominated for her performances in BBC dramas Emma and The Hour, starred last year in supernatural adaptation The Miniaturist. She previously directed short Scrubber which was nominated for Best International Short Film at Sundance Film Festival 2013 and Best British Short Film at Edinburgh Festival 2013, and recently created futuristic ensemble drama The Divide, alongside Penelope Skinner. Kudos recently optioned the idea and commissioned the pilot.
AMPs Norrie told us, “In Outside Romola has crafted a deliciously smart horror script that is as exquisitely terrifying as it is thought provoking. With the stellar cast she has assembled this film is going to leave audiences
reeling, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”
‘Antebellum’ has a ‘Get Out’ vibe, but doesn’t live up to its twist
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definite..
“Antebellum” is built around a provocative twist, and it’s a good one — as well as one that definitely shouldn’t be spoiled even a little. Once that revelation is absorbed, however, the movie becomes less distinctive and inspired, reflecting an attempt to tap into the zeitgeist that made “Get Out” a breakthrough, without the same ability to pay off the premise.
Originally destined for a theatrical run, the movie hits digital platforms trumpeting a “Get Out” pedigree in its marketing campaign, since there’s an overlap among the producing teams.
More directly, the film marks the directing debut of Gerard Bush + Christopher Renz, who have championed social-justice issues through their advertising work. The opening script features a quote from author William Faulkner, whose intent will eventually become clearer: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
If that sounds like a timely means of drawing a line from the horrors of slavery to the racism of today, you’ve come to the right place.
The story begins on a plantation, where the brutal overseers carry out grisly punishments against those tilling the fields. A few have just tried to escape, led by Veronica (Janelle Monae), and they pay a heavy price for their resistance, which does nothing to curb her defiance.
Also written by Bush + Renz, the script take too long before revealing what makes “Antebellum” different, but the middle portion — a “The Twilight Zone”-like phase when it’s hard to be sure exactly what’s going on — is actually the film’s strongest. (Even the trailer arguably gives away too much, so the less one knows, the better.)
The final stretch, by contrast, veers into more familiar thriller territory, and feels especially rushed toward the end, leaving behind a host of nagging, unanswered questions. That provides food for thought, but it’s also what separates the movie from something like “Get Out,” which deftly fleshed out its horror underpinnings.
Although the filmmakers (in a taped message) expressed disappointment that the movie wasn’t making its debut in theaters, in a strange way, the on-demand format somewhat works in its favor. In the press notes, Bush says the goal was “to force the audience to look at the real-life horror of racism through the lens of film horror. We’re landing in the middle of the very conversations that we hoped ‘Antebellum’ would spur.”
“Antebellum” should add to that discussion, so mission accomplished on that level. Monae is also quite good in her first leading film role (she did previously star in the series “Homecoming’s” second season), but otherwise, most of the characters remain underdeveloped.