Nicholas Woods set out on the road to The Axiom a long time ago.  He was only seven years old when his brother introduced him Francis Ford Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

“I think that was the breaking point for me,” Woods says.  “I was completely fascinated by horror films from that point.  I wanted to watch them, and I wanted to make them.”

Just over a decade later, he left his home in Phoenix, AZ to attend the prestigious film school at Chapman University.  At 22, he graduated and received his first job as a production designer, but he knew when that film was completed that all he really wanted to do was write and direct.  He can’t tell you exactly when and where the idea came from for The Axiom, but once it struck him, he had to see it through.

“I mean, it’s not exactly an original idea,” he explains.  “A lot of my favorite movies and books deal with the idea of portals to other dimensions and the creatures that might inhabit them.”

Still, the idea grew in his mind and his own spin on the theme began to take shape.

Filmed in the stunning Idlewild area southeast of Los Angeles,The Axiom centers on McKenzie (Hattie Smith) and Martin (Zac Titus) who are searching for their missing sister Marylyn (Maria Granberg).  She’s disappeared and they only have a battered journal with pages missing to point them toward her intended destination.  Joined by their friends Darcy (Nicole Dambro), Gerrik (Michael Peter Harrison), and Edgar (Taylor Flowers), they head into the woods after stopping to meet with a man who says he remembers seeing Marylyn only days before.

As they set out to find her, it’s clear that McKenzie knows more than she’s saying, but the truth isn’t revealed until the group finds themselves in an alternate reality where nothing is what it seems.

The setting is beautiful and the action takes place almost entirely in full daylight, unlike many genre favorites.  And that’s just one thing that makes this film stand out from the crowd.

Woods’ script is smart with precision timing, and his characters are actual human beings rather than the tried (tired?) and true archetypes.  In fact, it’s in the story of Edgar in the film that the writer/director’s genius really comes to the surface.  Edgar is prone to hallucinations and is being treated for his mental illness.  So, in the best of times, he cannot trust his own perception.  This makes him an easy target for the beings inside the Axiom, and of course, his friends can write off what he’s saying because they know of his ongoing struggles discerning reality.

 

“That’s the most terrifying thing to me,”  Woods admits.  “You generally trust what you see in front of you, but someone with his mental illness can’t do that.  You’re never sure if what you’re seeing is real.  You’re constantly questioning.  That’s a nightmare to me.”

It was clear during our interview that Woods didn’t just want to scare or entertain his audience.  He wants them to think.  He wants them to walk away from the movie discussing what they saw, and there are a host of elements and little homages to keep that conversation going.

Some of them, he admits, he didn’t even plan.

During our conversation I brought up the moment when the group of friends drink a red liquid from small vials that opens their eyes to the danger around them and brings them back to reality.  I couldn’t help but think of The Matrix and the red pill Morpheus offers Neo during that pivotal scene, but when I brought it up to Woods, he just laughed.

“I love the way that cinema can put color coded messages into your head,” he laughs.  “We’ll never be able to see a red pill and a blue pill on screen without thinking of that scene ever again, I don’t think.”

Woods is working hard for distribution of his debut film, at the moment.  His biggest dream is to make sure that as many people as possible see The Axiom, and iHorror will keep you posted on all the latest news as it comes in.