Developing a followup for 2009, with the main antagonist dying at the end of the original film orphan No easy feat, the filmmaking team opted to turn back the clock to explore the deadly Esther’s earlier years, which included reprising her role to bring back original star Isabel Fuhrman. Orphan: First Kill, Despite the logistical challenge of using an adult actor to play a character passed on for a child, director William Brent Bell was no stranger to tackling ambitious projects, as evidenced by the accompanying films. the devil Inside And Boy, Orphan: First Kill In theaters August 19, on Digital HD and on Paramount+.
The new film described, “Esther’s terrifying saga continues in this thrilling prequel to the original and shocking horror hit, orphan, After planning a grand escape from an Estonian psychiatric facility, Esther travels to America disguising herself as the missing daughter of a wealthy family. Yet, an unexpected twist takes place that pits him against a mother who will save her family from the murderous ‘baby’ at any cost.”
ComicBook.com spoke with Bell about developing the prequel, the challenges he faced, and the future of other franchises he’s participated in.
ComicBook.com: From concept to execution, across the board, it’s such an exciting thing, especially considering how much audiences loved the first film. When did you realize, when you joined this project, that you might actually be able to complete it? Was there any proof of concept you did? When did you get the belief, “No, it’s actually going to work and we think the audience is going to totally get into it”?
William Brent Bell: As for me, I felt that way from the beginning. I guess you could say, I felt the same way ever since I met Isabel, which was right after the film was announced. She reached out to me and we met and when she walked in, I was like, “Oh wow, she looks the same, just grown 15%,” whereas I looked totally different. I was like, “Well, this is crazy,” and then she was so passionate about it because, if she wasn’t obsessed with doing it, I would never have tried to drag her through this project. . It must have been a nightmare for everyone.
We did several proofs of concept or proofs of concept, whatever it may be, starting with storyboard sequences where the storyboards were specifically designed in such a way that it would be practically done the way it would in the film and Wouldn’t just try to throw $100 million at it and make it a full-fledged Coast Guard movie.
And then COVID was our friend because people started worrying that it was going to cost a lot of money and I didn’t think it would, and COVID slowed things down where we were able to do a photo shoot with another model were capable. We reduced his age from 33 to 16, I guess you would say. They were like, “Wow, this worked and you didn’t do any photoshop or anything,” and then we were able to do a full one-day shoot with Isabel in costume, a piece of the film as a proof of concept. Teaser Trailer.
It was right up to the last second, it was like, “Brent, we have to make a decision now. We have to see this footage, otherwise we’re going with this actress.” When everyone saw it, it was a quiet moment and then, “Okay, we’re doing it.” But at the end of the day, we were so focused on it that I don’t think we’ve ever really questioned whether it would work. When I saw the first cut of a movie before I did any post-production work, any cleanup or anything, they were just like, “Oh yeah, after five minutes, I wasn’t even thinking about it. I just forgot.” So it was like, “Okay.” It’s fascinating, even to me.
The script was out before the project was officially announced and knowing the script and that story in speaking with Isabelle and her passion, since you came on board and you actually have that script to shoot, is that script? There have been many changes, is it practical things like, “We have to move this scene into this environment because we’re going to be able to do forced perspective,” or is there even bigger story beats? Was there a lot of development in the script once you got on board?
Honestly, I would say no. Obviously with the script in every film things are always changing and we are fine-tuning and developing that story and respecting what exactly we want to tell and how we want to portray his character. Huh. There were bits that… you know, he’s riding a bike, and I’m like, “Sure, we can do it and we can do it with a double,” but at the end of the day it was more About psychology for a character that continued to be honored on the script. I really can’t think of much that we had to reverse engineer it to fit the fact that this is it. If anything, and it’s something I don’t think people realize, the movie probably would have been a lot more difficult with a kid.
Not only is it tough to shoot with fewer hours in a day, but she is playing the role of an adult throughout the film. Julia [Stiles] She was so relieved when we signed, or she said, when we signed Isabel because she was like, “I was thinking about how I’m going to play all these scenes against a kid.” In a way, it was as if she was playing a character she was very good at and now she is 24 years old playing the adult version of that character. It worked pretty well.
In the original film, like any horror film in which a young character is doing horrific things, there is an inherent shock value to it. Now in this, you have an adult and the audience knows he’s an adult, so there are still visuals that are visually striking and disturbing, but the audience isn’t immediately perceptually triggered in the same way that a child would. was doing those things. When you’re shooting these things, do you either feel at liberty or the pressure to take some of the more bizarre or disturbing imagery to another level or it wasn’t on your radar at all?
I would say it’s always kind of on the radar, but with that, now that we’re on the suspense and we’re playing somewhat with audience expectations, and also playing with what we know is capable So we’re guessing, is she just setting a trap for someone and then she’s going to do something terrible they’d never expect, but now we know she can be. So it’s a lot of fun and, in the story, part of the story is going one-on-one through. I guess you would say that had her hands tied, she may not have been completely as violent as she usually would have been.
As you know, the script was always like, that we root for him, and so the violence in it is a little more reactionary and he’s less aggressive, so it’s a little different. But at the same time, we wanted to make sure that when there are moments like these, we have the right amount of fun with them. Battle royale between them, which was hinted at in the script, but it was like, let’s just have fun. As long as both of these actors are excited to get dirty, enjoy it, that’s why things go so well with this movie.
Especially with things like forced perspective and body doubles, you’ll have to do some serious preparation to shoot with whatever scene is blocked and where the cameras are going to go. So when it comes to doing it all, do you feel rewarded because on the sets, everything was set up so accurately that you had very few factors out of the equation and you could just focus on performance and dialogue? Or did it feel more constricted or more limited to knowing, “I’d really love to move the camera this way, but it probably won’t work,”? Was it more freedom or more challenging that involved all the preparatory work?
It was definitely more challenging, but doing all that preparatory work where everyone was involved understood the challenges that would arise if we systematically moved cameras or chose to do so at the last minute, that sort of thing. things happened.
Everyone was ready to do it because we had made preparations to get there. So be it stunts, cinematographer [Karim Houssein]He was in the film so early and then when COVID slowed down the preparations, we spent just three hours a day developing every shot of the film that we wouldn’t have that much extra time if we weren’t locked in for several months. And it allowed us to get ahead of it.
These are things where, as long as you learn the rules and we all understand what our limits are and everyone is clear with that, then we can start breaking those rules. And I think we had a lot of luck with that.
When you look back on the experience, it’s a two-part question and it could be the same answer for both parts, but did you have a favorite sequence to shoot and what specifically to shoot? What was the most challenging sequence from?
Maybe it’s that fight, it was both fun and challenging for obvious reasons, but by then, we were pretty well in our groove.
I mean, I think the sequence was very early in the shoot in the train station and it was a huge location and we were still in some trial and error in terms of the way we were using the machines and things and carrying stuff. Were. It was extremely challenging to put that sequence together.
I think for me, as a storyteller, probably one of my favorite scenes was when Julia’s character, Trisha, was first introduced to Esther at the embassy and it was a beautiful location and tucked away in the corner, It was the grand piano. I was like, “Is that the piano?” And they’re like, “Yeah.” I was like, “Okay, let’s take her out and put her on the back of the piano and do her intonation on the piano,” which we know is an amazing pianist, but she’s pretending.
It was a great way for Julia to reveal her and at that point in the story for both of these characters, are they going to buy, is Julia going to go, “Who is this?” And Esther, she’s probably freaking out on the inside, “Is this woman going to say it’s not my daughter?” I loved that whole scene of them pulling them together for the first time.
Not only is Isabel’s passion for the character, but also the audience’s passion for the character over the years, orphan is definitely a cult hit, has a cult following, and you get to bring your own cult-favorite character to life with Brahm, Boy, Frankly, I don’t think anyone predicted how cute that weird doll would be. I loved it since the first time I saw that twist. Now that there’s more orphan Coming back unexpectedly, do you think you would ever want to return to the world of Brahman? Could there be a third Brahma or a different time to explore the legend that the audience might not have expected?
I think so. I think when we made the first film, there was this impression that if we continued the story, it would have been the story of Brahm, the man in the walls, like a slasher killer. And then, as time went on and the producers saw how the doll had become in the zeitgeist [Jared] Kushner, specifically, and so was like, “Okay, we’ll look at that.” But in a way, I feel like a movie, it’s either you have a great standalone movie or you really need a trilogy to complete a character. So the second film in that series was focused on Gudiya, and I think the third film will focus 100% on Brahm. So yes, I mean, for me as a writer, as a filmmaker, as a director, I fall in love with these characters after 90-100 minutes and I’m just getting to know them. So for me, I want to continue to explore those stories as a fan.
I’d be sorry if I didn’t mention that I explained last minute details to nearly 1,000 people. the devil Inside And to commit to the idea of having a documentary you’ve been going for, like “to learn more about this…” I’ve defended it for so many people. I just wanted to let you know that there are people out there who totally got what you were after.
You know, I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say something like that so I appreciate it. But I understand why it pissed people off at the same time.
Orphan: First Kill In theaters August 19, on Digital HD and on Paramount+.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. you can contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter,
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Reference from comicbook.com