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Exclusive: Dread’s Anthony DiBlasi Tells Us All About Cassadaga

Starring True Blood‘s Kevin Alajandro

After showing a lot of promise with his malicious and brooding Clive Barker adaptation, Dread, writer-director Anthony DiBlasi has returned with a new horror film, Cassadaga, written by Bruce Wood and Scott Poiley.

Community‘s Kelen Coleman plays a young woman grieving after the death of her sister. She moves to the eponymous town to seek spiritual help, however, she finds herself at the center of a murder mystery when the ghost of a dead girl comes in contact with her. The film also stars True Blood‘s Kevin Alejandro and film vet Louise Fletcher.

Cassadaga is making its premiere at Screamfest in Los Angeles on October 22 and we reached out to DiBlasi to discuss the film, its origins, its rather outrageous poster and how the actor (who will remain a mystery for now) who plays the film’s killer – nicknamed “Geppetto” – rattled the crew.

Shock Till You Drop: Post-Dread, you were toying with a few potential projects. Was this an instance where something came along that was ready to go, so you jumped on it?

Anthony DiBlasi: Right, it happened super fast. We were still putting together the financing for Pig Blood Blues when the money fell apart. It was August, after Dread came out, and these guys – Florida locals – had seen it. They came to L.A. and were looking for a director for Cassadaga, which they already had the financing for. They wanted to meet with me, we got along well, I liked the script and that was it. I flew down to Florida two weeks later to start pre-production.

Shock: Is this film giallo inspired?

DiBlasi: It kind of is. The poster, to be honest, is a bit misleading for the material. It’s right and what I wanted to get out there. It does have that giallo feel, but the movie is more like The Changeling or Don’t Look Now. It’s a very dramatic films and it’s got a lot of different elements like the ghost and the serial killer. It’s a sprawling journey with this female character. You saw Dread, which is like a psychological drama. Cassadaga is a supernatural drama with horror elements. People going in should expect a fair amount of character development, like The Changeling, which I love. There’s a certain horror audience for that type of film. Not everyone likes that, but I do. That’s my kind of thing.

Shock: If they saw Dread then they should know what to expect.

DiBlasi: Exactly. It’s a deliberately paced movie.

Shock: What separate Dread from this film in themes or even your own growth as a filmmaker?

DiBlasi: Themes are similar. If you watched both movies back to back, you might be able to say, Okay, I can tell Anthony directed this. But Dread was very much in your face, documentary style. This movie is done in a classic style, a lot of camera moves, a much different feel. Casting someone like Louise Fletcher, I knew getting her would make the film feel that way as well. I approached the camera style on the opposite other side of the spectrum [from Dread]. A little less naturalistic when it comes to acting. It’s more surreal.

This film deals with the emotion of loss and how we get over that. This might have a happier end, maybe. I wanted to make a movie that was not only scary and suspenseful, but something that had an emotional arc. Our character suffers a great loss and is dealing with it and she is led astray moving to Cassadaga. And there, she’s dealing with it in supernatural ways. She’s chased down the wrong path.

Shock: How did you get Fletcher?

DiBlasi: She was our first choice for that character, Clare Anderson, who runs this estate by Cassadaga University where she helps girls get an education. We just approached her people and she was up for it.

Shock: What were you looking for for the rest of your cast?

DiBlasi: The people we cast in L.A. – Kevin Alajandro from True Blood – I know he’s done a ton of TV, but I didn’t see him until True Blood. Seeing that, I knew he’d be perfect. It was written for a Spanish character. We sat down and he was the only offer we made for that part. Kelen [Coleman], who is from The Office, Kevin and I got along great. Kelen is someone who came in to read and she was awesome. She brought out a lot in the meeting and stood out for me.

Shock: Talk about the killer we’re going to see in the film…

DiBlasi: He’s more of like a Buffalo Bill. When I read the script, he plays a lot like Buffalo Bill or the Tooth Fairy in “Red Dragon.” He’s complex and has a lot of layers. [The actor who plays the character] brought so much to it. He made it a lot more sexually disturbing than I had anticipated. It is sick. The days we shot his scenes, we had two days in his lair location. I do a lot of freestyle directing, shooting 15 minute takes sometimes because we shot on the Red, and in the takes that I did with him, people were walking out of the area because it…you just felt dirty. He went for it. And the girls he acted against, really went for it, strung up like marionettes. It had this weird feeling watching him manipulate these girls in his contraption, which was fully functional. He’d do things we didn’t choreograph and he’d be humping these girls using the ropes.

Shock: Who did your score this time around?

DiBlasi: A local guy named Dani Donadi, who I love. He’s an Italian, thick accent. Reminds me a lot of my relatives. He’s amazing. Where Dread was more about atmosphere, here I wanted something very musical, a score I could pop in and listen to at any time. There are a lot of themes, the score I think is one of the strongest parts of the film.

Shock: Do you have distribution?

DiBlasi: Not yet. We’re world premiering at Screamfest and then we’ll take it from there as far as festivals go and see how distribution goes.

For a photo gallery from the film, including exclusive stills, click here.

Source: Ryan Turek, Managing Editor