Screening as part of the Late Shows Series at this year’s Calgary International Film Festival is Buckout Road from writer-director (and Calgary ex-pat) Matthew Currie Holmes. There are many reasons why you should check it out. Here are just 13 of them.
1. It’s a great story
Buckout Road tells the story of a group of students who discover that a series of horrific urban legends surrounding a stretch of road might actually be true. The deeper they investigate the history of it, the more dangerous things get. Based on an actual place in Westchester County, New York, the real Buckout Road is a mere 20 miles from Sleepy Hollow and is home to more than a dozen urban legends, ranging from “the call is coming from inside the house” to witches burned at the stake to a cannibal serial killer. “This is the most haunted road in America,” says Matthew Currie Holmes, who wrote and directed the feature film. “There is an evil that’s always lived here and if you piss it off, it’s coming for you.”
2. It’s a horror film
“Horror has always had a very special place in my heart,” says Currie Holmes. “Anything that creeps me out or sticks with me or makes me jump — anything that I have a visceral reaction to — I’m instantly attracted to.” Describing horror films as dramas or action movies that are elevated, and with higher stakes, Currie Holmes notes that that definition covers a lot of ground. “Anything that kind of scares you is a horror movie. Living in America right now is a horror film,” he says. “My goal was to take a piece from my favourites and pay homage to them through the lens of the urban legends.”
3. It’s not just a horror film
“There is a lot of humour in (the film),” assures Currie Holmes. “And there is this whole sequence that takes place in the 1970s that was filmed to look like a grindhouse movie.” Pulling inspiration from the midnight movies in the late-’80s, like I, Madman and Renny Harlin’s first film Prison, Currie Holmes wants his film to be an engaging and interactive experience for viewers. “My hope is that the audience goes along for the ride, and that (Buckout Road) takes them back, too.”
4. It’s a mystery
With all of that genre exploitation, the movie might be best defined as a supernatural thriller and a mystery (who doesn’t love a good mystery?!). “My intention is that the film is one step ahead of the audience at all times,” says Currie Holmes, “and our heroes are trying to solve the mystery behind it in the hopes that they can save their lives.”
5. Danny Glover is in it … and he’s not too old for this shit
According to Currie Holmes, Glover is experienced, talented, professional and a good person. “Danny is the sweetest guy,” says Currie Holmes. And apparently, watching him perform on set was like watching amazing theatre. “Danny can say more with a look than most actors can say with a monologue.” Enough said.
6. Colm Feore is in it
This top-notch, hyper-talented American-Canadian actor brings his best to every project he’s in. “We had one day with him, and it was a big day,” says Currie Holmes. Apparently, Feore not only had his own lines memorized, but had memorized the rest of the script, too. This gave him some leeway with how to perform his scenes “He would say, ‘With me, you get creepy for free, so we can play it either way.’ ”
7. It’s Canadian
Buckout Road is an American story, but it is a Canadian film. Shot in Sudbury, Ontario (about an hour from where Currie Holmes was born), this movie features some beautiful Canadian scenery and some amazing Canadian talent, including Michelle Mylett of Letterkenny fame.
8. It has a great young cast
Evan Ross (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, son of Diana Ross) and Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Wynonna Earp) are some fabulous up-and-coming stars. This is a great chance to see them working in a different wheelhouse.
“I can’t really say anything about (the witches) without giving anything away in the movie.” Let me reiterate what you already know — witches are awesome, scary and crazy cool.
10. It’s gory
Buckout Road may not be a straight-ahead horror film, but there is a good amount of gore peppered throughout the film. According to Currie Holmes, directing those effects was so much fun. “Movies are still magic … I go to the movies, I don’t see the (special) effects, I see the experience,” he says. “And the fact that I was able to create an experience for other people to see? It was so thrilling.”
11. It’s a directorial debut
Producers John Gillespie and Brad Clark had financing in place and had started pre-production on this project, but felt the script wasn’t quite where it needed to be, so Currie Holmes was hired to do a re-write on the existing script. Mid-way through the writing process, the producers suggested that he also direct the film. “And so I wrote it in April and shot it in August,” says Currie Holmes. And while that’s not necessarily how he prefers to do things, this was a different situation. “I agonize over scripts for years before I feel they’re ready to be shot, but this was one of those situations where the train was already on the tracks. We dove in and shot a 23-day movie in 18 days.”
While Currie Holmes, who has had a number of projects in development for the last 10 years, didn’t expect this to be his directorial debut, it has taught him to be fearless. “It’s both exhilarating and terrifying at the same time,” says Currie Holmes.
12. It’s a homecoming
Remember the band Shiver? Currie Holmes was the singer! Remember the guy who worked at your local video store, and loved talking about movies? OK, there were lots. One of those guys was Currie Holmes! He called Calgary home for a big part of his life, and while he currently lives in Los Angeles, he’s excited to be back and show this film to a Calgary crowd. “It seems that everything is aligned. I’m coming home because I’ve been away for so long. It feels really good.”
13. Matthew Currie Holmes will be there for a Q&A
While this filmmaker has never done a Q&A before, he is excited to talk about Buckout Road. And with Matthew Currie Holmes, everything is on the table. “(My approach is) I made a movie — what do you want to know?”
Buckout Road screens on Friday, September 22 at 10:15 p.m. at Globe Cinema Upstairs and Sunday, September 24 at 12:45 p.m. at Cineplex Eau Claire 1. Writer/Director Matthew Currie Holmes, Producer Brad Clark, and Producer John Gillespie will be in attendance at both screenings.
Jane McCullough used to write about many things musical, artistic, cinematic and delicious with the publications VOX and Fast Forward. She is currently the cooking school coordinator at The Cookbook Co. Cooks.