Insofar as modern horror films go, Darren Lynn Bousman’s contributions to the Saw franchise, Repo: The Genetic Opera, Saint Agatha, and so many more cement his place at the top of the echelon of directors. While the ever anticipated collaboration between Bousman and Chris Rock, Spiral, has been postponed due to COVID, another film of Bousman’s originally set to premiere after that Saw tie-in got released this year, Death of Me. Starring Maggie Q, Luke Hemsworth, and Alex Essoe, the film explores the sometimes deadly magic of a mostly unexplored Thai island. It’s a unique spin on the vacation-gone-wrong horror movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. I also thoroughly enjoyed talking to Bousman, who was more than forthcoming about Death of Me, Spiral, and surprisingly enough, his love for Weekend At Bernie’s.
You’ve directed tons of horror movies, and I like many of them. What defines horror for you, and what attracts you to the genre?
Darren Lynn Bousman: So, I think that why I love horror so much, more so than other genres, is you can compare it to a roller-coaster. People wait in lines for 90 minutes, sometimes, for a ride that lasts 60 seconds. And then you get on that roller-coaster, and most of it is just going up. Then that 10 or 15 seconds where your stomach drops will be something that you remember for the remainder of the day. You don’t remember necessarily waiting in the line or all of the other things throughout the afternoon, but you do remember that drop that you get in your stomach. These are stomach drops, and when those happen… And they happen so infrequently to me that those type of movies imprint themselves on me and they stay with me. And I just have always been drawn to things that stay with me.
“…more so than other genres, is you can compare it to a roller-coaster…”
Yeah, that totally makes sense. Maggie Q and Luke Hemsworth are really great in their roles in Death of Me. For an aspiring independent film director, can you take us through your casting approach and any tips that you might have for getting a great cast?
Well, for me, I always like to go with people that don’t have baggage. I don’t like going with somebody that might be really popular at the moment, necessarily. Because when you see them, you’re like, “Oh, it’s so-and-so who was just on TMZ yesterday.” I say that, yet I worked with Paris Hilton, but that’s a whole different story. But the majority of times, you want these actors to blend in and not have a ton of baggage with them. So with someone like Luke Hemsworth, who obviously people know the name Hemsworth, he’s just somebody I immediately saw. And he’s… This might sound weird, but he’s nebbish in this movie. He’s not a tough man, he’s not a badass, he’s none of that, and I just liked seeing him in this type of role.
And most importantly, and this is going to sound weird, but I like working with people that I like, people that I find are just cool. You’re stuck on set, in a case like this, you’re stuck in Thailand for weeks, and weeks, and weeks, and weeks, you got to want to hang out with these people and be around them on set. So I try to surround myself with just people that are good people. So Luke and Alex both, I just fell in love with immediately because they were just so fun and down to earth. And they had so much downtime that we just all bonded almost immediately. Maggie was an interesting one because I wanted somebody who could play the role and not play the victim. Because I think it’s just a cliche and trite to see the female victim who’s screaming, and running, and doing whatever.
So I wanted somebody that could hopefully bring some more power to it, and someone that was defiant, and a badass. And so I was a fan of her work, on top of that, I’m a huge fan of a comedy she did. This will sound ridiculous, but she was in a movie called Balls of Fury, which I just think is hilarious.
Oh, my God. (laughing)
So… I know, you were probably not expecting that brought up. So I was a fan of her there, and obviously, she’s an action star in her own right. But every movie is different of how I put things together, and that’s… On this one, that’s how that came together.