The Wretched is set to be one of the scariest movies of 2020. From the creepy witch that will haunt our dreams for weeks to come, to the spooky music that set up each and every scene, there’s plenty to discuss when it comes to this IFC Midnight movie. We got a chance to speak with directors and writers Brett and Drew Pierce about their movie The Wretched, how it felt knowing they scared me to death, and what it took to bring this horror movie to life!
In all honesty, this movie scared the hell out of me. How does it feel knowing that you are giving fans nightmare fuel for weeks to come?
Brett: That’s a compliment to a horror movie maker. We love it when people are scared.
Drew: It’s exciting because when we wrote this film I was a new father. Obviously we play a lot with the fear of what if someone took your children? What if your wife was possessed by a malevolent witch?
Brett: What are you saying about your wife, Drew? [laughter] One of the funniest things about it is that the baby in the movie is actually Drew’s son and my nephew. It’s always fun. And the scariest thing about making a horror movie is actually making it and thinking, “Maybe people won’t find this scary?” So you’re always terrified about that and then you have to edit the movie without sound effects and music. And when you do these horror things you’re like, “Man, this is bad.”
Drew: I think that’s why horror and comedy are so tightly closed together, because there’s this results oriented approach. It’s like, if people don’t laugh, it’s not funny. If people aren’t scared, it’s not a scary movie.
To be honest, you sold me on the trailer alone. How does that feel?
Brett: Oh god. That’s exactly what we were trying to do. Just put the right amount until people go, “This is scary and it’s gonna be a fun rollercoaster ride.” But we’re also, as the guys who made it we went, “Don’t put too much in there. We don’t want to spoil everything.”
How was it working with the actors, especially the wife because she did an amazing job and was super creepy?
Brett: We found her in a casting session, the wife. And it was funny because once you cast the witch, somebody has to be creepy and moving in unearthly fashion. You have to do these weird auditions where you’re just like, “Stare at us, say this one line, and walk towards us like a creepy witch.” And it’s a room with me, my brother, and the casting person, and it feels kind of ridiculous but she had it. She was so warm and caring when she read the mom scenes but then she’d do the mom possessed, the witch scenes, and we were like, “That’s the girl.”
The wife’s mannerisms were so damn creepy. How did the actress take this?
Drew: That was always our feedback with Zara. And it’s the highest compliment for us and she just did her audition and we had her do it several times and we were like, “You’re so creepy. You’re so eerie.” And its funny because its the last thing you wanna hear as a beautiful actress.
Brett: But she loved it because she’s a huge fan of creepy stuff. So honestly, we didn’t know it, but she was game for this type of movie.
Drew: She understood the roll and the movie more than we did.
How was it seeing the witch come to life for the first time?
Brett: It was amazing for us but Drew did all the designs for the creature and it worked with the special effects for the looks. So we were so used to seeing it and we loved it. Like, Drew’s drawing came to life. But the best part, Piper Curda, who plays Mallory, she didn’t actually have a lot of scenes with the witch. And we’re going to film the scene where she’s going to see the witch creature for the first time. She bends down and sees this witch crawling out of this creepy hole and she goes, “OH MY GOD!” And Drew looked over at me, “I think Piper just realized she’s in a horror movie.”
One of my favorite parts of the movie was the soundtrack and sound effects. How important was that to the story of The Wretched?
Drew: It’s crucial. It’s the Hallmark…bad sound design is the Hallmark of a cheap independent horror movie. So we were terrified when we were going to find a sound designer. But Brett actually reached out to a bunch of game sound designers that he really loved.
Brett: Basically I had been playing Resident Evil 7, God of War, and all these fun PS4 games. And I was like, “Man, the sound design on these games are really good, especially Resident Evil. It’s a horror game, I’m creeped out, let’s find the guy who did that.” So I found him on Facebook and he came to watch our movie and really enjoyed, seemed really into it. And we were like, “Cool. So do you want to do it?” And he said yes, that he had some time. Then we realized, we know he’s done games but he’d just finished Aquaman and he was about to do Hobbs & Shaw. So we were kind of like, “We’re an independent movie. I don’t know if we’re the same thing.” But he just, he really liked the movie and he had a gap in his schedule and he was game to do it. He just knocked it out of the park. He killed it for us.
Drew: We knew we wanted like full sort of orchestra feeling soundtrack. So we reached out to our long time friend Devon Burrows and he, it was great to collaborate with him because we got to work on the score before we even shot the movie. We found a lot of the tone to give the actors on set, kind of give them a feeling of what we were going for.
What was the most memorable moment from filming The Wretched?
Brett: Weirdly enough my most memorable moment was from the last night of the movie. We were shooting and it was one of those nights where everything was going wrong. We were shooting this scene that took place on the beach and it involved a police car, our lead actor, a dog, and all this stuff. And the sprinklers had turned on us at 4 am so all the equipment was getting wet. Then the police car started sinking in the sand, so we couldn’t drive it around. The dog, he didn’t want to act for us; he was acting crazy. Everyone was exhausted and we all knew it was the last day. So we got the shot and our producer, Ed Polgardy came up to me, “You guys need the scene of the cop car pulling off from the beach.” And we were like, “We can’t do it. It’s trapped.” And he started crying and he went on about how he wanted the movie to be special and how much we cared about the movie. I was like, “Ed, we got the movie. I love it. You should be proud. We made it to the end.” So, it was kind of like Ed crying on the beach and he probably doesn’t like me telling that story but it touched me.
Drew: We had the most amazing crew. It was such a collaborative project and everybody was so invested and by that point, it was the best.
What advice do you have for fans that are stuck at home during quarantine?
Brett: Mine is a two prong thing. I try to be creative. It’s the only way that I can get by right now. That’s me sitting in front of my computer and writing. But then also being ok going, “You know what? I’m gonna spend the next four hours reading comic books.” Cuz that makes me happy and it calms me down.
Drew: I look for an opportunity to do the things we never have time to anymore. All the boring things. I’m an illustrator and artist and I like to just draw. It’s something that I take time for self relaxation. Draw something, make some music, do all those things that we all sort of move too fast in our lives to actually do.
The Wretched is available on VOD.