Every so often a film comes along that not only proves you can have big dreams and accomplish them, but also serves as inspiration to other indie filmmakers around the world. This is the story of Gore, Quebec, a super low-budget horror film from director Jean Benoit Lauzon. Made for $7000 over weekends, the film has already been picked up for distribution and will be hitting theatres for a special screening at the Raindance Indie Nite on Thursday, November 13, 2014. A very solid horror film, the story behind the film is equally impressive. Lauzon is a first time filmmaker, and while others may begin with a string of short films, Lauzon chose to move straight into features. His success shows that Canadians definitely have what it takes, and all they need to do is go out and get it done. TFS spoke to Lauzon about his film, the many challenges he faced, and how using what is available is an integral part of the process.
It may not be a shock for some to learn that Gore, Quebec is a horror film. This is frequently the starting point for young filmmakers. The genre tends to allow for smaller budgets, and the audience for horror is quite large, as well as slightly less critical of a finished product. What is surprising is that Lauzon is not a fan of the genre. “I never liked horror movies predominantly because I have a pretty vivid imagination and I get freaked out rather easily. Growing up I was more the kung-fu movie fanatic. I never got into horror movies. I saw The Exorcist, I’ve seen Halloween, I’ve seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre which scared the hell out of me, so I’ve seen some of the classics, but only a few.” Lauzon explained how his writer, Rick Mele, is more of a horror fan, which gives the story its familiar feeling for genre fans.
Of course, no horror film is going to be very successful unless you’ve got a great villain. The killer in Gore, Quebec is no secret, which gives him a supernatural quality. When you see the killer right away, you start to think of them as an unstoppable force. Since we know who they are early on in the film, it makes you wonder if there’s any way to stop them. At the same time, there’s nothing really special about the killer here. This was something that Lauzon wanted from the start. “That was the idea behind the killer. He’s your everyman, and that’s why he’s frightening. The horror’s not in the reveal, the horror is in what this guy is doing and how he’s going about doing it.”
Every good killer also needs a lair, and the killer in Gore, Quebec has one of the most destroyed and creepy looking lairs around. With the very low-budget, there was no way that Lauzon could have created something so ruined, but he did know of an abandoned house, which proved to be one of the guiding forces in the creation of the film. “Before we found a camera, before we started writing, my writer friend Rick [Mele] mentioned this idea about a horror movie at the cottage. I just thought I knew of this place since I was eleven or twelve and it is a frightening place. It’s a very compromised structure; there’s an air of danger. Shooting on location, if possible, is always preferred because there’s a real environment. I couldn’t imagine the extent to which this lair, the evil location, had an effect on the actors and their performances. Genuinely, when people were there, they were afraid and it comes through in the performance.”
With the killer’s lair ready for shooting, and Lauzon’s family cottage serving as the main location, things seemed ready to run smoothly. When you’re trying to make a film for $7000, problems are bound to pop up all around you, and this shoot wasn’t any different. Lauzon actually laughs when asked whether he faced any kinds of difficulties. “We had to rewrite the end of the film four days before we were going to go shoot it. The end of the movie we had to totally change because my parents decided that it was a good weekend to take the boat out of service and to get it stored for the winter.” Lauzon continued “Two weeks after we started shooting, my folks started work on redoing the front porch, and by started work I mean totally demoed the front porch, on which we had already shot, and then started to build a new porch. So we had to film around all that construction.”
You would never notice during the film, although some background continuity may stand out to observant viewers. The end result is a solid horror film, with a very creepy killer and some outstanding locations. It’s great to see such a successful end product, but it’s the creation of the movie that proves to be the most interesting aspect. Gore, Quebec should be the latest go-to example for upcoming filmmakers. With almost no experience, and an incredibly small budget, Lauzon and his team managed to create a film in nine months, start to finish, which is already being distributed in the U.S. Make sure to catch the film when it screens on Thursday, November 13, 2014 at Carlton Cinema as part of the Raindance Indie Nite. Check the Raindance website for information and tickets.