The Dark Below had it’s World Premiere at the J.A. Seve Theatre in Montreal last night, to a large and appreciative audience. In attendance were Director Douglas Shulze and Actress Lauren Shafer. They had previously worked together on Shulze’s 2011 film Mimesis. Here they reunite for a visual tour de force.Literally.
The film contains only three words on dialogue uttered in the 75 min running length.Those are spoken by actor David Brown, as he immerses his drugged wife ( Lauren Shafer) into an icy cold lake, for what appears to be a slow and horrifying death.
This is in the first few minutes of the film. Our heroine must now struggle to survive below the ice with all her will and wits. As she struggles, we see dreamlike scenes of what has led up to this moment; and the audience may be unsure if the character is already dead,and if so,are we now seeing the equivalent of “her life passing before her eyes”?
It’s an interesting storytelling technique to build the structure of the story. As well, the wonderful music score by Composer David Bateman is utilized to a great extent to add to the narrative.His choral theme that builds up to a crescendo throughout the film is almost the an embodiment of the “voice”of Shafers’ character as she is unable to utter a word in her underwater prison.
The slow build up of the past story reveals not only Shafers’ close relationship with her mother (Veronica Cartwright) and daughter, but the lurking suspicion that her husband is a closet serial killer. A realization that comes too late to prevent the tragic struggle for her life. But in an ironic twist the tables seem to turn on our killer ,as the battered heroine asserts her ultimate revenge.
Enduring the hardships of severe weather and the challenges of shooting underwater is difficult for the largest of productions. For a low budget independent film to overcome these issues is to be commended. Especially so for Shafer ,who spends most of the film underwater.
The scenes that take place above the water were shot in the frigid -20 environment of a frozen lake near Port Huron,Michigan. The cast and crew later reassembled to shoot the underwater scenes in the warmer summer months,with the addition of a small floating prop ice cap.
I was lucky enough to catch up with Douglas Schulze and Lauren Shafer at the festival hotel here at Fantasia 2015.
I have posted a link to the audio interview as well as some stills and some reverent links for The Dark Below, and Banshee -a TV series that features Shafer in its upcoming broadcasts on Season 4.
An interview with Douglas Schulze and Lauren Shafer about their new film: The Dark Below,premiering at the Fantasia Film Festival 2015 in Montreal,QC The Dark BelowFantasia Film Festival 2015Lauren Shafer