A low-budget local thriller – taking its cues from classic eighties flicks – has just wrapped shooting in New South Wales.
Written and directed by Tom Danger, Lead Me Astray takes cues from the atmosphere-heavy and synth-driven horror films of the 1970s and 80s and transports them to a modern day thriller.
Danger’s film follows a young veterinary student, Alexis Willard (Jace Pickard), as a single act of violence causes his life to come crashing down around him, exposing his mysterious past and putting the love of his life Lacey (Alannah Robertson) in unspeakable danger.
Taking stylistic and thematic inspiration from classic thriller films like to John Carpenter’s 1976 Assault On Precinct 13 and Dario Argento’s 1977 Suspiria, Danger also quotes Carpenter’s 1981 Escape From New York as huge influence on the upcoming project. “Many films of the 1970s and 80s took a lot of risks and tried a lot of new things,” the filmmaker says. “Argento’s Suspiriautilised a wide variety of abstract lighting and a lot of primary colours that made the entire film look like a waking nightmare and so surreal. There’s a lot of that inspired kind of lighting in Lead Me Astray.”
Having graduated from the Screenwise Acting School, lead actor Jace Pickard has appeared in CIA: Crime Investigation Australia, Deadly Women and Sailor Moon fanfilm Dead Moon Circus, but scores his first feature lead turn with Lead Me Astray. “When Tom first sent me the script and asked me to audition for Alexis, it was very late at night and I thought, ‘Okay, I will read the first half and then read the rest tomorrow.’ But once I got into it, I just couldn’t stop reading. I had never portrayed a character before with this much baggage and really wanted to be this ticking time bomb of a man that could snap at any moment.”
Another chilling aspect of the film comes in the form of Alexis himself, a protagonist who isn’t entirely good either, facing his own personal demons. “He’s a very bright man but there are a lot of skeletons in his closet. He has been running from his past for most of his life and has spent half of his life in therapy,” Pickard says.
Talking about the feel of the film, Pickard believes the appreciation of old horrors is being lost. “I absolutely loved John Carpenter’s Halloween growing up. It was just something that audiences had never seen before and being a 90’s kid, I still prefer that film over stuff that we see nowadays.”
With Lead Me Astray currently in post-production, Danger sees a bright future for the film. “The wonderful thing about genre films is that the fan base is so passionate and festival organisers cater to people who have those tastes,” says the filmmaker, who hopes the film will have a successful run on the festival circuit. “There’s a lot of film festivals directly targeted at films like this, for example A Night of Horror right here in Australia and After Dark in Toronto, so you can see your film go to a huge amount of different places and find its audience.”
Originally published on FilmInk Magazine online, January 10, 2014.
Here is the trailer for Lead Me Astray: