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When you cover the East Coast independent horror scene on a regular basis, you can wind up in rather scary situations. But then there are moments like the one recently where this writer goes to check out the set of NO REST FOR THE WICKED, a segment from the multidirector anthology PSYCHO STREET, and I find myself sharing a bathtub with actress-turned-director Raine Brown.
OK, we’re actually sitting on the edge of tub, fully clothed—and that’s because the rest of Brown’s apartment, which is serving as the shooting location, is crammed with equipment, crew and actors prepping for the next scene. “We’re shooting in my very small one-bedroom apartment, and literally, the kitchen, the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom are all being used as sets,” says Brown, who also passed on the exclusive stills seen below.
Having already acted in the Pete Jacelone-directed PSYCHO STREET segment HYPOCHONDRIAC, which is pitched as an over-the-top comedy, Brown is making a 180-degree turn for her stint at the helm, in which she again plays the lead. “NO REST is a psychological thriller about this young single mother with a baby who is very lonely; she feels trapped in her life situation, and she also has a prescription drug problem. She has reconnected with her boyfriend from years ago, and they’re trying to figure out a way to make it work when he comes back into her world. But at the end of the day, it’s not the life he wants; he’s a rock star, he wants to travel, he wants to tour. So he gives her the ultimatum: Me or the kid. So she’s got a big choice to deal with.”
It goes without saying that she doesn’t deal with it very well. “Yes, and that’s why there’s no rest for the wicked,” Brown says. “It’s really interesting, because studying a character like this, it’s like, imagine getting to a place in your life where you could actually do something like she does. It’s a fine line—there’s desperation and loneliness, and one thing people always fall back on is denial.”
Brown, who’s also executive-producing PSYCHO STREET with Marv Blauvelt, hadn’t intended to direct a piece of it as well as star—until she got a look at the NO REST script by co-producer Trevor Wright. “When I read it,” she recalls, “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the kind of thing I’ve always wanted to act in—there’s real characters, drama, tension and depth,’ and we started looking for a director. We thought of a couple of people, and then I just said, ‘What about me?’
“There were a couple of reasons why, because honestly, I’m an actor, that’s what I love, but I enjoy directing for the creative control,” she continues. “I find that sometimes as an actor, it’s very frustrating, because you have a way you see something, but at the end of the day, it’s not your baby. You have to work within someone else’s vision. I had such a strong vision for this, and because it’s so character-driven and set in one location, it kind of felt like a stage play. I’ve directed for the stage and I feel very comfortable with that, and with the help of [assistant director] Jeremiah Kipp and [cinematographer] Dominick Sivilli…I have these visions of how I want it to look, and they’re able to translate that and create some beautiful imagery.”
Indeed they have; both during shooting and while watching playback of the footage, the expressive lighting (combined with water refraction in a number of shots) gives NO REST FOR THE WICKED a more artful look than one often finds in homegrown genre fare. Brown and co. are working efficiently, but fast: “We’re trying to get a 27-page script shot in three days,” Brown reveals. “It has been long days, but these guys are working their butts off for me; they’re not even counting the hours.”
NO REST’s cast also includes Matthew Bonacci as the boyfriend and 2-year-old Maximilian Cara as their son. A toddler co-star would seem to pose an extra hurdle for such a quick-and-dirty production, but he behaves like a trouper during Fango’s visit and delivers some memorable, unexpected moments. “Max is adorable; he’s the little son of one of my best friends, and he’s perfect,” Brown says. “He’s been so positive and excited to be doing this.”
Brown has also completed her acting turn in PSYCHO STREET’s wraparound story, COME ON DOWN (with Tiffany Shepis, directed by Arthur Cullipher), with the final story, the Lovecraftian demon tale LEWIS, set to be lensed in Indiana this May with Anthony Sumner at the helm. “Marv wants a final copy of the feature by July, because he’d like it ready for the October rush of horror films, to get it out to some fests,” Brown says. “This whole thing literally started on the phone, with Marv talking to me about doing just one short. And he’s got this personality where when he does something, he does it 100 percent intense, and we’ve got really good people working with us. It’s great.” A PSYCHO STREET website will be launched soon here, and you can see the movie’s MySpace page here.
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