Writer/director Mathieu Turi will be the first to tell you how lucky he was in creating his first feature length horror film, Hostile, which will debut this week on VOD.
The filmmaker who has previous work has predominantly been as assistant director or second unit director on films like GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Turf, had two short films under his belt when he decided to it was time to create a feature of his own.
That first short film, Sons of Chaos, was set in a post-apocalyptic world and according to Turi, it was almost video game-like with little character development. In the second, Broken, he explored the relationship of two people trapped in an elevator together, developing their characters and learning to write their interactions.
In Hostile, he combined those two types of stories to create something all together different that has both heart and genuine scares.
The film takes place in a world where vicious creatures stalk human beings. Some of those people have formed communities in order to survive. A woman named Juliette finds herself stranded with a seriously broken leg after an accident coming back from a supply run only to find that one of the creatures has been stalking her and is seemingly waiting for the right moment to attack.
“I needed the backstory to fill the post-apocalyptic story of Juliette in the film,” Turi told iHorror in a recent interview. “So I began to write flashbacks so that the audience could understand and care for her character.”
Turi wrote a brilliant script, and began the process of bringing it to life. The process would take four years, but the story he wrote attracted talented actors right away.
In fact, he barely had a rough draft of the story when he approached creature actor extraordinaire Javier Botet to play the role of his creature.
“I believe it was Mama where I saw him, and I knew that he was perfect to play the creature I was creating,” the director explained. “So I sent him an email with the story attached. I said to him that I had no money, no producers, no finished script, and I had no idea how long it would be before we started but asked him to please consider doing it.”
Botet was impressed with the story and immediately wrote back to Turi telling him that he didn’t care if it was 5 or 6 years before the film began shooting the director should call him because he wanted to be a part of the project.
“By that time, Javier was much more famous. He was making Alien: Covenant, IT, and Insidious 4, and I really thought there was no chance he could do the film because we couldn’t move our schedule around,” Turi said. “But he told me that he would make the film because he wanted to do it and he’d made a promise.”
Botet flew from Los Angeles to Morocco to film his scenes only to return to California to pick back up the work he was doing there.
The actor was also crucial to the process of creating the look of the character and Turi was excited to have an actor so dedicated to making the creature more than a monster.
“Javier brings so much humanity and presence to what he is doing,” he said. “You almost think you’re seeing CGI but everything is absolutely real.”
Meanwhile, the director also found his actors for Juliette and Jack, the man with whom she shared a life before the world went to hell around them.
“Brittany [Ashworth] was perfect for my Juliette,” he pointed out. “She had the presence to carry the film, but there was also a vulnerability there that could make the audience love her. I had worked on another film with Gregory [Fitoussi], and he also just seemed to make sense in the role. They both responded to what they read so well.”
One of the most fascinating things about the film is that every action and interaction seems very deliberate. There are clues hidden in plain sight for the viewer, though they might not pick them up the first time through. Turi says the films definitely benefits from a second viewing, and says that his storytelling was influenced by M. Night Shayamalan.
“I’m a big fan of his [Shayamalan’s] movies,” Turi explained. “If you watch The Sixth Sense, he tells you everything you need to know to understand what is happening throughout the film, but you become so involved in the story that you don’t see them the first time through. He doesn’t cheat his audience. He gives you everything, and that’s the kind of filmmaker I want to be.”
Seeing Hostile, I can almost guarantee Mathieu Turi has both the directing and writing talent to reach that goal. In fact, he’s well on his way already.
You can see Hostile on VOD starting September 4, 2018. In the meantime, check out the trailer below!