Icons of Fright has some inside info and first-look creature pics from "Scourge", the upcoming "Thing" meets "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" inspired film from writer / director Jonas Quastel (“Ripper 2”/”Sasquatch”).
"The Scourge" is a rapidly growing organism that begins invading and consuming the bodies of unsuspecting citizens in the small town of Harborford. As it gestates, the Scourge consumes internal organs and assumes control of gross motor functions, driving the afflicted person to consume massive amounts of calories before eventually killing the host in what the filmmakers describe as “a gory shower of vomited blood and tissue.” It also likes to bore through belly buttons. So cute! I want one!
The story deals with Scott Miller, whose soon-to-be ex-girlfriend is invaded by and destroyed by the creature. After becoming a suspect in her death, he only has a short time to prove his innocence, stop the scourge, and regain the trust of his old best friend, Jesse (who just happens to be the local sheriff’s niece).
While “Scourge” certainly owes it to past creature-feature films for inspiration, Quastel thinks fans will find there’s something a deeper and more sinister about his pet monster. “The Scourge isn’t mindless,” he insists, “It has a personality. It has an agenda and an attitude. It knows who its victims and its enemies are, and when it wins a round, it lets them know.”
The creature was designed and executed completely in CGI, which many genre fans usually hate to hear. However, as the cost of CGI has come down over the years, Quastel and his team, though on a much smaller budget than a big studio productions, were able to utilize top effects artists and technology.
Producer Andrew Bronstein looked to visual FX house Artifex to design the creature. Artifex’s previous credits included work on big productions such as this years “Pathfinder” and the TV series “Painkiller Jane”, however, the artists were totally game to design a new creature. Bronstein explains, “Since most of the work they’ve done has been execute-on-demand stuff for big US productions, they totally jumped at a chance to partner up. Which gave them an opportunity they’d been dying for – taking a creature from concept through design and animation to finished product.”
Still, director Quastel recognized there were certain risks involved working with a purely CGI effect, one that you wouldn’t see until the production was well underway. “Regardless of their peerless reputation in the field, we really took a big leap on blind faith that (Artifex VFX supervisor and CEO) Adam Stern was going to bring it home. There was a month there, after we saw the conceptual art, where we didn’t see anything. You know, we thought, ‘Oh my god, if this gets messed up … we’re toast. There’s no movie.’”
However, once Artifex revealed the final design and 3D animated model, “I just stared at it. The detail, the texture, the overall look of the thing. It was awesome. It moved like a real animal, kind of a combination of the fantastic and the exotic, like a deep sea creature you might find on a different planet.”
Still, seeing a creature on a computer screen is one thing, getting it and your actors to interact with each other is another matter altogether. Actress Robyn Leoux remembers how she initially tried to visualize the as-yet-unseen creature with another famous monster, “I sort of started imagining the Alien.”
However, while doing post-production sound work she says even she was taken aback by the final design, “I actually saw the Scourge for the first time when I was doing ADR, and it was like nothing like I’ve ever seen before. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all. When I saw the Scourge coming out of Scott’s mouth, it wasn’t, like horrific. It was beautiful.”
For actor Nic Rhind, who plays Scott Miller, the support of his fellow cast and crew help immensely with the challenge of working with an unseen alien nemesis, “From the start, there was a huge amount of positivity. A real creative collective.”
Keep and eye open (and all other orifices closed) for the "Scourge".