Everybody's been there. You move to a new city, you make some new friends, and it turns out that one of these perfect strangers is actually a maniac determined to turn your life upside down. OK, maybe that doesn't happen to everybody, and Austin-to-L.A. transplant Vincent Van Horn had a much easier transition.
Right now Van Horn (full disclosure, a former Chronicle employee) is spending the lockdown in L.A. housesitting for a friend, and awaiting the North American premiere of his new film, Blinders.
Not so much luck going spare for Andy, the blundering victim he plays in sinister stalker flick Blinders (which makes its North American debut Saturday night at the virtual Austin Film Festival). Freshly arrived in the City of Angels from Austin, Andy makes friends with his rideshare driver Roger (Michael Lee Joplin, another Austinite now in Cali), but then has other engagements, most especially with Sam (Christine Ko), However, Roger does not like being blown off, and decides to teach Andy (who has no local support system) a lesson in manners - one he'll be lucky if he lives to forget. But don't expect the cruelty to be solely cerebral. Van Horn said, "We won an award at FrightFest for best gore scene."
Austin Chronicle: This is definitely a suitably unpleasant film.
Vincent Van Horn: My initial fear was that it was going to be unsuitably unpleasant in this time with everything that's going on. Maybe people don't want to watch something that's like this right, but it seems like people seem to be enjoying in our current climate.
AC: Maybe people are just yearning for back when you could just go out and randomly meet sociopaths.
VVH: Ah, the good old days.
AC: It feels like you're a natural for his, being an Austin transplant in L.A. When you came on board, what was the production looking like at that point?
VVH: I did a movie with [writer/director Tyler Savage] two years prior called Inheritance. We're old friends and got closer during that movie. A friend of mine who used to be my room mate, named Chase Joliet, him and Tyler met back in Austin working on a Terrence Mallick film. Tyler was Terrence's personal assistant, and Chase was an intern, and they became friends, and they wrote a movie and gave me a small part in it. Then during the writing of this, Tyler and his writing partner [Dash Hawkins] approached me with this idea that they'd essentially written for me and Michael Joplin in mind. But I don't want to think I'm too much like Andy.
I think they had a script in place about a sociopathic Lyft driver, Uber driver, and I think they essentially married some ideas from other stories that they had going one, and then writing for me to incorporate the two together to make Blinders.
AC: Were your own experiences much of an influence on Andy, as you have a lot initially in common?
VVH: Early on I had to make the decision, just for my own mental health and clarity, to really separate the two - Andy as a character versus me in real life. Even if there're similarities, and as much as I wanted or not to incorporate some of my personal stuff, I mentally separated right from the beginning, and come up with a whole new back story for Andy. Like he's from Dallas, who I like to attribute all his bad traits to. He's a Dallasite who moved to Austin and tried to get something going before he moved to L.A.
Most actors like to play the bad guy, like Michael Joplin's character - bad guys are definitely fun, because they're not really you. And even though Andy is not a good guy or bad guy, the fun is definitely in playing in the parts of him that aren't me, the deceitfulness, and hidden agendas. He also has a bit more of an anger management problem that was interesting to find and play with.
AC: He's also always one step behind the audience, so you can see how his naivety and trusting nature will trip him up.
VVH: I don't want to say that's a Texas thing or being naive, taking people on their word, but that's Andy. Anyone fresh to L.A. is in for a rude awakening.
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