Initially, my decision to write a horror script was predicated on necessity: I had a synopsis for an “exorcism” script that Lindsay (my wife) and I had worked up together. A major distributor had expressed interest. Said distributor wanted to see a script “ASAP.” I didn’t have one. So, I pounded out a pretty serviceable draft within a week and sent it on. The distributor in question had kind words for the script, but passed, saying it was “too dark” for their catalogue. I took that as something of a compliment. It’s an old saw in the film universe by now that horror films are the surest bets to make money, certainly on the independent side of things. I refined the script a bit a passed it along to Keith Leopard at Uncork’d, the company that distributed my last film THE HOLLOW. Keith and I discussed and decided it was worth making at a lower budget, with Uncork’d distributing.
I was off and running to pull together a budget that would allow us to make a quality film. I’m very glad indeed that I wound up making DEMONS on my own terms (as Keith and Uncork’d are extremely supportive of their directors’ creative freedom). For one, the script became more personal to me than I thought it would be at first. It explores a number of issues that I’ve looked at in my previous films (THE HISTORIAN and THE HOLLOW). I was able to plumb deeper into a question that’s always fascinated me: the impact of religion, especially when narrowly-focused, on families and relationships. Add to that the very question of faith, which means such different things to different people. For the Colin character, faith demands constant questioning, even if—maybe especially when—the answers don’t come. But what happens when you do get answers and they aren’t what you expect. What happens if they drive you away from the seeming core of your belief system? What happens then? Who do you become?
The film is also my most female-forward one to date I’m proud to say. I came to care a great deal, especially about the women in the script: Kayleigh, Lara, and Jewel. Two characters (Kayleigh and Jewel) have suffered profound physical and intellectual abuse, each dealing with the repercussions of that abuse in different ways, one (Lara) defies typical expectations of female power and sexuality; all three are swirling around one another exploding into the great forces of nature each is capable of becoming. Being able to cast exactly who I wanted in those roles was huge for me. Every one of those actresses delivered brilliantly. Then adding Steven Brand, Andrew Divoff, and John Schneider into the mix, each one playing a character that’s not quite what he seems on the surface … each so keenly able to peel away the layers of the onion and reveal the truth beneath those charismatic facades … After three features, I continue to be amazed and humbled by the caliber of performers I’ve had on my sets.