Botched is the story of an unlucky American thief (Stephen Dorff) who flees a disastrous robbery attempt for Russia. Things go from bad to worse there, as hostages are taken and it seems no-one is getting out alive. The film – a horror comedy- won the New York Horror Film Festival in December of last year, and we had a quick chat about it with its director, Kit Ryan…
Mixing genres like comedy and horror could give you the benefits of both or the benefits of neither, so how did the tone of Botched come about?
Well, I was involved with the film back in 2003, and the initial film was very very dark, almost sickening, but it did have some moments of absolute genius to do with the humour. The characters came across quite brilliantly. But I found it too sick and I thought it was too twisted. Hopefully now there is a larger audience to go and see something like this, because it’s not tongue-in-cheek with the blood and the guts, but it isn’t a spoof.
Whereas before I would really have been limiting myself to a certain type of [audience]. Myself and the writers worked on the script for 8 months to get it to an area where we were all very happy with it.
So the comedy was played up to leaven the horror?
Yeah, I basically lightened it down. It still goes along the same story, but we really tried to lighten things down.
Do you think effective black humour needs a European sensibility?
In a way, I think it does. I was always a huge fan of films like Delicatessen, where it has its own look and its own unique flavour to it. I was trying to bring that across as well. I can’t say I was hugely surprised, but I was slightly surprised when Botched won the New York horror film festival when I was there last Christmas. I really wasn’t sure how that was going to go down, when I was trying to sell the script over there, trying to raise funds. So I had a bit of an initial problem on it. But once people started to understand…
…even Stephen Dorff – who plays Richie Donovan in the film – he initially read it as a straight down-the-line horror movie. I don’t know – it must absolutely have come across like a pile of crap for him. I don’t know how one could appreciate a script like that, without knowing that there are these characters around him and that the situation is so bizarre.
But once he realised that he’s an all-American action-hero in the middle of all these bizarre characters, he then got the humour. He used to say to me on set quite a bit, ‘Where’s my funny lines?’, and I’d say ‘You don’t need any funny lines, you’re funny because you’re in the middle of all this chaos.
What other horror comedies indicated to you that there may be a market for Botched?
When I was making this there was Shaun Of The Dead that had just come out, so I thought ‘Oh good! There are people still out there doing these types of films!’ [laughs]. Because in the eighties and early nineties you had things like Tremors, and things like that. But I grew up on films like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead…and I also had a complete love for Peter Jackson’s Bad Taste, and then Brain Dead. And they all had their unique flavour to them as well. So I’ve tried to bring that into my film in the design and the characters and the look of it all.
You could watch Botched in five years and you wouldn’t see any difference – there’s almost a complete blandness in this Russian, Soviet styling, so that the only way you’d really know when it was made would be because of the car you see at the beginning.
Is comedy a useful hook in an over-saturated horror market?
I would love to think so, for this film at least, because it opens the gates for an audience to come and see it. I was initially worried going to horror festivals with the film, because I thought I’d get beaten up, or lynched [laughs]. Were they actually going to like it or were they going to hate it?
Fortunately it seemed like whenever they put it on, they’d have some absolutely dreadful film on before it came on. Or something where they’d seen so much butchery and everything, so that when they came to Botched…they used to come up and shake my hand after. I’d be sweating loads, and then I’d think Thank God, it’s gone down okay here.So Botched has had a generally favourable reception at the festivals?
Obviously there are going to be people that will absolutely hate it from the get-go, but there are a lot of people who really do enjoy it. It is a film that’s out there not just for the young man who’s 16-25, but a guy in his forties could take his partner or his wife along to see it and they both enjoy it. Hopefully they come out at the end of it laughing.
Can you see yourself continuing in the horror genre?
There may be a Botched 2, depending on how well this one does, bringing a couple of the characters back. When I was in New York, a lot of people who had seen the film really wanted me to do it, but we’ll see how well it does. It is quite a bizarre film. A lot of the cast used to say to me on set, this could be a real cult. Well, I wouldn’t mind that as long as it had a good audience too, as long as people go and see it.
I’ve got a horror movie coming up later on this year, which is more of a film to put the frighteners on rather than make you laugh. It goes along a different direction.How did a modest budget bring out your creativity on Botched?
I had great difficulty [laughs]. I knew right from the off that this is how I want the film to look, this is how I want the characters to play amongst each other. I also wanted to use prosthetic effects rather than CGI, because obviously on a low-budget film that can come across as naff. I did use CGI, but it was only ever to enhance blood spatter or to enhance things that we really couldn’t get on the day. But Paul McGuiness, my special effects artist, worked an absolute dream for me, and almost everything came off.I understand that the increasingly-famous rat in Botched is totally prosthetic…?
Yes, I tried to get him as big as possible…he was a character in himself; he comes in and out of the film, doesn’t say much…everybody says that he looks so fake, but actually I wanted him to look like a small dog, more than anything else.
He comes across in the synopsis like the gopher in Caddyshack…
[laughs] Well, yeah, some people absolutely hate it and said why don’t you use a real one, but I think it’s kind of funny that you know what it is!
Botched opens in the UK on Friday. The website is at www.botchedmovie.co.uk