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An Order of Horror, Hold the Monsters

Fantastic Fest vet Simon Rumley brings his brand of scary movie to Austin

By Ashley Moreno, Fri., June 26, 2009

Simon Rumley
Simon Rumley
Photo by Jana Birchum

In 2006, British director Simon Rumley won the hearts of Fantastic Fest fans with shockingly little stage blood and no true-to-form zombies. His film The Living and the Dead won five awards, including best film. But as it toured the genre and indie festival circuits, not everyone agreed with its categorization as a "horror" film. Equally well-described as a psychological thriller, the film tells the story of a mentally ill son who tries to care for his terminally ill mother. The sense of horror in the film develops despite the absence of a real villain.

In October of last year, Rumley again started work on a monsterless horror film with the script for his latest project, Red, White and Blue. The film's main character, Erica (Amanda Fuller), is HIV-positive and sleeps with men in an effort to infect them. "I started thinking, 'How could I do another film about death and killing, but where there wasn't a monster in the closet?'" says Rumley. "And then there was the whole HIV/AIDS thing. I had read a few stories on the Net – one of the first about a Japanese woman who was infected by a Japanese policeman. She then started sleeping with Japanese policemen, having unprotected sex and infecting them. That really stuck with me. I thought it was an interesting way to progress – a way of killing people without traditional horror methods."

With his script now complete, Rumley is currently shooting Red, White and Blue here in Austin. The city helped inspire the narrative, and Fantastic Fest founder (and Alamo Drafthouse owner) Tim League is executive-producing. Last month Rumley started soliciting support for the ambitious project through the Alamo Drafthouse's website, where he posted a blog asking for volunteer extras, as well as persons willing to provide their homes and automobiles for filming. During the next three weeks, Rumley plans to film in some 28 different locations throughout Austin – seven of which he found through the Drafthouse's blog. Using naturalistic acting and natural light, he hopes to capture a "stylized documentary" feel. "The film is very much about regular people, regular life, regular situations which just take an incredibly dark turn," says Rumley. "The locations carry that theme. I want all the locations to be as natural possible."

In addition to featuring Austin homes and well-known points of interest, the film will also include as many as possible of the 180 extras who responded to Rumley's online call for support – a high number for a volunteer position but one that didn't come as much of a surprise. "The reason I came [to Austin] is because I knew Tim and Karrie [League], and I had a great time at Fantastic Fest a few years ago with The Living and the Dead," says Rumley. "I sensed that there was a great community. People really doing stuff."

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