“Infernal,” the new horror film from writer/director Brian Coyne, speaks to the fears that many men experience as relationships become more intimate and committed. As Nathan (Andy Ostroff) moves into a new house with girlfriend Sophia (Heather Adair), she tells him that she’s pregnant. It’s a quiet, romantic moment overshadowed by tangible signs of trouble.
When reached by phone for an interview, Coyne explained that the both the ending and the opening of the picture were reshot.
“In the opening of the picture, you can tell that he loves [his] woman,” the director said. “We’d gotten a note from our distributor and our foreign sales guys asking ‘Can you put a ‘pop’ in the opening?’ As you know, it’s 7 minutes of talking and then you sort of see something. And I’m sure that’s exactly what they wanted. I prefer the movie opening this way.”
“Kramer vs. Kramer” meets “Paranormal Activity”
Nathan and Sophia welcome Imogene (Alyssa Koerner) into the world, but doctors believe she is autistic. As she grows older, the child exhibits strange behavior, including an obsession with her hair and sleepwalking.
A self-proclaimed horror movie buff, Coyne has a wealth of film knowledge at his command. While “Infernal” features a troubled little girl, the core story is about the parents struggling to stay together under unusual circumstances. The director sees elements of “Kramer vs. Kramer” and “Paranormal Activity” in the film.
“One thing my mentor always taught me is that you can write a movie and have spiritual elements, have a predatory killer or whatever. Subtract them and if the material still works, then you’ve got a decent enough picture,” he offered. “That was something that always stuck with me. I think with ‘Infernal,’ that’s why it plays how it does.”
Coyne’s father, a be-bop jazz guitarist, also had a way of explaining genres to his son: “Say horror is rock-n-roll and jazz is drama or lighthearted comedy. Whatever it is. He’d always say if you find a way to mix the two that would be perfect. I said ‘Yeah, it’s called the Beatles.’”
As Imogene’s abnormal–and perhaps supernatural–behavior increases, tensions rise between Brian and Sophia. He installs more and more cameras to keep an eye on his daughter, including a couple of disguised “Nanny Cams.” The images captured are disturbing, to say the least.
“Infernal” also requires Alyssa Koerner to deal with some unnatural situations. Coyne said he was impressed with the young actress, especially after she gave him a note about how a scene should be done.
“Ninety percent of casting a kid is casting the parents, and they are as fantastic as their daughter,” he explained. “Working with kids is interesting because when you are doing it right, you are making sure there is an on-set tutor, going through the right channels,” he said.
Still, the adults shared a surreal moment during the filming of the extremely dark third act.
“I was sitting at the monitor, laughing with the mom, the dad and the on-set teacher, who was there for the welfare of the child, at this miserable material that was happening. The second I would call cut, Alyssa would jump up and start jumping on the bed,” the director said.
“Infernal” is currently available on VOD. The film also will be released on DVD in May.