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As a writer for FANGORIA, I often stumble upon rare gems
while researching or watching films for interviews and feature articles.
Writing about one movie usually points me in the direction of several others I
desperately need to see; as The Fixx once sang, “One thing leads to another.”
Nick Simon’s REMOVAL was recently added to my must-see-movie list while I was
finishing up an article for an upcoming issue of Fango.
It happened like this: I was interviewing Oz (Osgood)
Perkins about his brilliant father Anthony Perkins (you may remember him from a
little film called PSYCHO), and I discovered that young Perkins is a talented
writer and actor in his own right. He gave me a short plot summary of a movie
he co-scripted with Nick Simon and Daniel Meersand and co-stars in called
REMOVAL, and I immediately e-mailed my editor to get my hands on a copy. And
just as I suspected, REMOVAL is one of those rare gems, discovered almost by
REMOVAL, released earlier this month on DVD by Lionsgate,
isn’t exactly a horror film; it’s more of a psychological thriller. However,
since the genre is coupled so closely with the final plot twist (one of several
REMOVAL employs), it could be considered as such. Also directed by Simon, the
film has many deep, dark secrets hidden beneath its carpets and under the
furniture. It centers on Cole Hindin (Mark Kelly), a troubled professional
carpet cleaner who witnesses the suicide of his best friend (DRIVE ANGRY’s Billy
Burke) and spends several years cleaning up his psyche in a rehabilitation
center. His girlfriend, (BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER’s Emma Caulfield) doesn’t
think he’s ready to live without therapy, but Cole disagrees. He ends up lonely
and alone, slaving over dirty floors and hallucinating about his dead pal.
Just when we think it can’t get any worse for our poor
protagonist, Cole is called out to an isolated mansion to meet Henry Sharpe
(Perkins), a calm, collected and egotistical millionaire who offers him $5,000
to spend the night cleaning his entire house, top to bottom. One room in the
mansion is a complete disaster: red stains on the carpet, bedsheets tossed and
tousled on the floor, lampshades crooked and turned. Henry even asks Cole to
help him carry and lift two large trunks into the back of his car. Having
witnessed a brutal death before, Cole’s mind runs wild with ideas about how
Henry has killed his wife—and his hallucinations worsen with every inch of the
mansion that he cleans. What’s in the heavy, black trunks? Is Henry really the
awful murderer Cole thinks he is? Are Cole’s hallucinations getting the best of
Of course, you’ll have to see the film to find out. Although
made on a fairly low budget, REMOVAL is beautifully shot, with an art-house
sensibility and attention to small detail, and each actor does an excellent
job. Perkins’ acting style and portrayal of Henry Sharpe is reminiscent of his
father; he’s boyishly handsome and intellectually comedic, yet hard to read;
you’re not quite sure if you can trust Henry at any point in the film. Kelly
also does a brilliant job keeping the audience guessing. Simon demonstrates
real potential as a director; REMOVAL is his first feature (he helmed two
shorts in 2008), but you would never know it.
I caught up with both Simon and Perkins to let them know how
much I enjoyed the film, and ask a few questions…
FANGORIA: REMOVAL is one part horror, one part psychological
thriller, mixed with a little bit of black comedy—would you agree?
PERKINS: I always saw it as a thriller, and with that you
have to be careful, because almost everything has been done 1,000 times before
and so it becomes really hard to stay, you know, “thrilling.” I felt like it
was important to also have comedy in there, just to keep the texture rich and
surprising. Not that it goes for laughs per se, but rather a sense of humor
that kind of lingers in the world and knows that it’s there and that it is
woven into the environment. For example, Cole gets up in the morning and he’s
talking to his wife about what a beautiful day it is, and we cut to his point
of view, and he’s looking out at the most depressing suburban tableau
imaginable. Yet he thinks it’s beautiful, because he is in such a deep state of
FANG: It took a while for the film to be picked up for
distribution, but you’ve gotten very positive reviews. Are you happy with how
the film turned out and all the feedback you’ve received?
SIMON: It’s been a really long and hard uphill battle
getting the film released, so it feels really great to get the positive
response. We made this movie for a very small amount of money. And when making
an independent film, you never think about how long it might take to get
distribution. Or even if you will get it, for that matter. I’m just so happy
that people can finally see it.
FANG: Oz, what’s it like writing with and taking direction
PERKINS: It was great, because we more or less met and
worked for the first time together on a short film [2007’s SHADOW PLAY], so we
had a good sense of things going into the feature. I think we always just
wanted to do a better version of that short, so we had a basis from which to
build it. We very much co-authored the movie in that way, almost like we were
curating it, taking care of it and making sure it was being well-represented as
it evolved into a feature. We wanted to honor the short, which was why were all
there in the first place.
FANG: Nick, how was it working with Oz?
SIMON: Oz is really one of my best friends. He is an amazing
writer, actor and collaborator. I was lucky enough to have him in SHADOW PLAY.
He was a little intimidating to work with at first, but he is literally one of
the funniest people you could ever meet, and he went out of his way to make me
feel more comfortable with him. We also have the same birthday, so there may be
some weird cosmic thing going on!
FANG: What’s next on the agenda; any future projects we can
look forward to?
SIMON: I have a couple of scripts ready to go that I’ve
worked on with my co-writers on REMOVAL, Daniel Meersand and Oz. Also, Dan and
I just finished writing a script called SITE 146 that Alexandre Aja and Grégory
Levasseur are attached to, through Silvatar Media. Working in development with
Alex has been a real eye-opening experience. His passion for the genre is so
contagious. He has so many great ideas, and as a writer, I’ve grown
considerably since working with him.
PERKINS: I’m working on something really cool as well, but I
don’t want to say too much and jump the gun just yet! You’ll have to wait and
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