Icons of Fright Interview With EVERLY Director Joe Lynch and Actress Jennifer Blanc

unnamed (42)It’s impossible to not like Joe Lynch. Quite easily one of the nicest guys around, you can definitely hear the passion for film in his voice, and the mere mention of a film that Lynch is a fan of sparks a lengthy conversation, which is always great to have. Having recently hit DVD/Bluray, Lynch’s newest film, the Salma Hayek-led action film EVERLY, is an intense and inventive spin on the modern day action film, and features not only good performances by Hayek and a lot of other great actors, but also Jennifer Blanc-Biehn (THE VICTIM, THE DIVIDE).

We were able to have a chat with both Joe and Jen regarding EVERLY, what drew them to the project, and what’s coming next for them as well. Read on!

So the last time we spoke was right before the second season of HOLLISTON arrived. You briefly mentioned EVERLY and wanting to kind of incorporate the “Dogma 95”-like approach to the film. After seeing EVERLY, it makes sense and is quite impressive, that you went for it like that. How did it all come about?

Joe: It all came about because of a dare. It was my manager, who also ended up being the producer of the movie and even my best man at my wedding. He and I were talking about the next steps after WRONG TURN 2, and he was smart enough and forward thinking enough to say, “Look man, no one’s going to be knocking on your door with stuff just because of WRONG TURN 2” It’s not like Marvel was going to be calling or the TRANSFORMERS guys weren’t going to be asking me to do the next one.

I personally think WRONG TURN 2 is great, I’ve always loved that movie.

Joe: Thanks! It helped get my name out there a little bit, but the only way that filmmakers are able to kind of set themselves apart form everybody else, is to create stories and create your own ideas, you know?

Yeah, definitely. 

Joe: There’s this fallacy that once you make a movie, or even make a stream of movies, that your phone will instantly ring off the hook. Well, the phone just didn’t do that, and who even takes phone calls anymore? The point is, that he said, “I want you to come up with something original”, and I had always had this idea of a character in captivity or a character in peril. I’ve always loved those kinds of movies, like RIO BRAVO, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and one of my favorites is ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13.

Yeah, that’s one of my favorite films of Carpenter’s . 

Joe: It’s a tricky thing, because here I am imitating one of my favorite filmmakers of all time, John Carpenter, and I had grown up knowing him as the guy who made HALLOWEEN, THEY LIVE, PRINCE OF DARKNESS and all of those films. It took me until my early 20’s to see ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, because it wasn’t available anywhere, until the laser disc came out and Tarantino said it was the greatest film of all time, so I immediately had to see it. I was utterly blown away by it, and not just because of the dark subject matter or the child getting killed, but because even though it was made before HALLOWEEN, it very much felt like a John Carpenter movie. So after WRONG TURN 2, I had to ask myself, “Do I want to brand myself as a horror filmmaker?”, because I love the genre and will never NOT want to make horror films, but I just don’t want to be pigeonholed and only receive horror scripts.

It’s important NOT to be put into that box, for any filmmaker, totally. 

Joe: Why not break out of the mold a little bit and make a movie that reflects what I like to see? I’ve always liked those pressure cooker scenarios, and at that point in my career, I knew that it wasn’t always going to be that scenario where I could make a movie with a little bit of money and without a lot of studio stuff to deal with. I learned that the hard way on WRONG TURN 2, that every time you’re doing a location move, you’re eating up time and money and the opportunity to do really cool and compelling stuff. So with that in mind, we told ourselves, “It could be in one location, and it could be set anywhere!”, and it would never be contingent to New York City or the Swiss Alps or anywhere.

Jen, How did your involvement in EVERLY come to be?

Jen: Well Adam Ripp, the producer, initially approached me, while we were messaging each other.

What was the initial attraction to the film? Was it working with Joe or Salma, or just a really solid script?

Jen: Joe for sure.  I’m a fan and wanted to work with him and my long time buddy and again, the producer, Adam Ripp.
The script was an amazing read, and Salma I was super excited about working with too. The complete package was awesome.

Joe, was it difficult to keep your story within that one room for the most part? I’m sure even during the development of it must’ve been interesting.

Joe: Over the course of one night, we talked about the film and how we both loved Lars Von Trier movies. Not just Von Trier;s films, but that whole Dogma 95 movement, where they specifically set rules. It wasn’t to be dicks about it all and scoffing at Hollywood blockbusters, it was more of a creative reboot. It forced them to find ways to be creative and find stories that didn’t have those crutches that most of today’s films have. Manipulating the film with the score, or extreme lighting, things that would manipulate the story. All of that movie magic that just kind of made the films feel a little false. So we took that and tried to make something that kind of lived within that as much as we could. I took a story that I had written when I was much younger, about a woman trapped within a hotel, in Long Island. In that original script, I had her dying in the first 27 minutes, so her story ends that early and just went on. We obviously had to change that.


Joe: But the whole “Dogma ’95” kind of thing or at least the rules we set for ourselves, really informed a lot of the writing. We knew that we couldn’t come out of this room or that room, so we had to figure out ways to work around that. I’m so happy that we chose to utilize that. I’m not digging today’s movies, but they’re kind of shot in a very pedestrian way, and as much as I love a good Scott Adkins or Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, a lot of them just focus on getting everything in one long continuous shot, to prove that they can really fight, and that makes me feel like there’s a lack of style these days. That could be attributed to today’s business of things. Our goal was to make something with pizzazz, that would engage audiences in both a story level and also a visual level. We wanted to give them something different, something that is like the first time they saw THE RAID or the first time they saw OLDBOY, ya know?

Yeah, definitely, and it shows. Jen, I’m sure playing within that hitman-filled world of the film must have been fun. I loved your character.

Jen:  Thanks! It was a LOT of fun and very fast paced, so that was really nice.

Joe: It was hectic at times, and there were time when the crew or Salma would get upset, because we couldn’t get that reverse shot, and she’d ask, “Why not?”, and I’d always have to say, “These are the rules”. It’s a really difficult way of shooting things, because you don’t have anything to fall back on.

I loved that you DID make those choices and rules, because it felt unique. I haven’t felt as excited watching an action film like this, since the days of growing up and watching films like DIE HARD, or something that Shane Black would have written. EVERLY kind of gave me similar feelings to those kinds of films, were they influential in anyway with EVERLY?

Joe: Oh man, you’re pushing my buttons! (laughs). Oh man, definitely. DIE HARD to me, is the greatest Christmas movie ever. When everyone was jacking off to A CHRISTMAS STORY or IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, I was hooked on DIE HARD. The second I saw it, I said, “This is me”. That and like you said, the Shane Black movies, especially LETHAL WEAPON, THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT and KISS KISS BANG BANG, there was something about the juxtaposition of Christmas and its music and darker things. The thing about Christmas, is that a lot of people, it’s either the happiest time of year or the most depressing time of year. Me, I love Christmas, it’s my favorite time of year. Especially when you and I have kids, it’s a fun time. So that was important, having a character go through the worst possible situation, all while it being the happiest time of year, there’s something incredibly cinematic about it.

Now that you’ve tackled the modern day video nasty with WRONG TURN 2, and the balls to the wall action film with EVERLY, what kind of film do you want to tackle next?

Joe: I already know what I want to do, and it’s looking like it’s getting closer every day. Every filmmaker kind of has three or four things going on at once, because you never know when it’s going to end or if you’ll be able to do a certain project, so you need to have multiple things going. With that being said, I know exactly what movie I want to do next. There’s one script that I read last year, and it absolutely just knocked me on the floor. It’s called SWITCH CULTURE and it was written by the editor of V/H/S, a guy named Joe Gressis. He wrote this amazing script that is a sci-fi thriller, and I don’t know how to describe it without giving anything away, so I’ll just say that it’s what would happen if David Cronenberg and Paul Verhoeven fucked.

Oh shit, that sounds great! What about you Jen, you’ve been really busy acting, producing and directing different projects, what’s next for you?

Jen: I’m just grateful to be so busy. It’s fun for me, as an actor, to bring people to life but producing has also become a lot of fun and so cool to me. As far as what’s nexy, I have a movie that I’m in with Julie Benz and it’s in postproduction called Havenhurst and we’ve a lot of Blanc Biehn Productions movies that are in the stages where the distribution will come to light very soon so stay tuned and I will definitely get you some new news that we are about to announce.

Awesome, thank you both so much!

Joe: Thank you! Tell everyone at Icons hi for me, if I don’t see Rob G. before you do.

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