Interview conducted by John (Xomba editor)
Darren Lynn Bousman has spent the past decade, give or take a year or two, making movies. But it was in 2004, after pitching an ultra-violent screenplay titled The Desperate to H-wood execs, that Bousman was contacted by James Wan and Leigh Whannell to direct Saw II. Seems that although The Desperate closely resembled the plot of Saw, it was creative – and bloody crazy enough – to capture Wan’s attention. The story was adapted and, under Bousman’s lens, became the second in the Saw franchise.
Needless to say, work came quickly for the Kansas native after that, including a Mudvayne video, another Saw film and the cult hit musical Repo! The Genetic Opera. And he has a grab bag of various film projects in the works, including a sort-of-remake of Mother’s Day. But Bousman has taken a new direction of late.
He and pal Michael Peterson had an idea for a film, but the project was “too big,” so they scaled it down into separate packages, one of which is the upcoming graphic novel Abattoir, published through Radical Comics. Rather than belabor the point in a lengthy expository introduction, we’ll let Bousman tell the story.
This exclusive interview with Bousman is brought to you as part of our latest Horror Channel “What Scares You?” essay writing contest. The winner gets a free copy of the first issue of the six-part serial Abattoir (due in stores on Oct. 27), along with other Radical (pun intended) prizes. For entry details, click here.
Here’s what Bousman had to say about his most recent venture in print:
Xomba: Where’d the idea for the Abattoir series come from?
Bousman: It was actually a little while ago that I came up with it. It was myself and a friend of mine, a guy named Michael Peterson. We wanted to do a horror film and wanted to do something that was a little bit different than the Saw films and other films attached to it at that time. I wanted to do a kind of haunted house movie, but the problem, I guess the concern, was that so many times there’s been so many different variations and versions of haunted house films. It was hard to do one that was unique and people haven’t seen before, so we kind of struggled for weeks and months to find out what that idea would be — what haven’t people seen before and what isn’t clichéd and hasn’t been done a million times.
We kept throwing ideas back and forth, and back and forth. We could never really figure it out or crack it. Then one afternoon, it kind of just came to us. We came up with this idea, and it seemed so simple, yet I had never seen it done before. So we went on this huge research kick to try to see if anyone else had done this kind of idea before for a haunted house film, and we had never seen it done before. Then we started coming up with an outline and came up with this really cool, unique, dark outline. Then… we realized how huge it was. It was so big and so massive. I had no idea, neither of us had any idea, how the hell we were going to pull something like this off. I pitched it to my agent, [who] flipped out, and everyone loved it. I think it was a really kind of cool, unique, different approach to a horror film with a haunted house movie, and that led us to go on and start pitching it. It was just a cool sort of novel idea. The first people we pitched was Radical Media because one of the ideas we had was that we can’t do this as a feature because it was so, so kind of massive. What if we did the backstory as a comic book to kind of set it up and to get the mythology out? So that’s how it started.
Xomba: It seems you were instrumental in getting the idea moving, but you have other writers and illustrators on the project. Is that correct?
Bousman: Yeah, we totally do. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I have no idea about comic books. I’m a huge comic book fan, I read a lot of comic books, but that doesn’t mean that I can go and write the comic book. Then I think that’s where [writers] Troy [Peteri] and Rob [Levin] came in and were amazing, to be able to take an idea that I had and actually, you know, turn it into something much bigger.
And so we talked, I would say it took us probably nine or 10 months for everyone to get on the same page. I might be grossly overestimating that — it might have been five months. But we finally all figured out an outline that we all just loved. And we started an outline for the series of books based on the vast mythology of this world that I wanted to create, with this character and this kind of story I wanted to create.
What’s interesting about it is it has no resemblance of a haunted house movie, and I think that’s what I love about it. Some of my favorite horror films are masks of the genre. They don’t look like horror films on the outside, but when you get into them, they’re absolutely horrific. I’ll give you an example: something like Requiem for a Dream. That movie is one of the most disturbing movies I had seen, but I would never call it a horror film. It’s kind of the same thing I’ve done with this. I don’t think anyone’s going to look at this and say, “Oh, yeah, that’s a haunted house film,” but at its core, it really is.
Xomba: You said that this is shaping up to be backstory for a feature film, but is the series really going to be a complete idea once it’s done?
Bousman: Well, here’s what’s gonna be unique about the world of Abattoir. I want to create a universe, and this is the beginning of a universe. I don’t foresee using the comic book to be what the movie is. But it’s part of the world of what the movie will exist in, and everything will stand on its own. For example, the comic book will be its own world, its own movie, its own book, its own story. The movie will be its own world, its own story, but they will all connect. All pieces of this thing connect and tell a much bigger tale.
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