San Antonio author’s debut horror film We Need to Do Something hits TV and movie screens

click to enlarge We Need to Do Something is currently showing in limited theaters and available on demand. - IFC MIDNIGHT
IFC Midnight
We Need to Do Something is currently showing in limited theaters and available on demand.

There was no room for screenwriter and executive producer Max Booth III to hang out in the bathroom during the filming of We Need to Do Something.

What we mean by that is a bathroom happens to be the primary setting of Booth’s debut horror feature, which is based on his novella of the same name. And even if there was room, the confining metro Detroit soundstage was simply too much for him.

“It was claustrophobic as hell,” Booth told the Current during a recent interview. “Despite [the bathroom] looking big when it’s empty, when you have a cast and a camera and a director in that room, there was no space at all.”

Booth — a San Antonio-based horror author, occasional Current contributor and co-owner of indie horror fiction press Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing — joked that despite his best efforts, he was unable to secure a spot in the vintage-looking lavatory.

“I did request multiple times that they let me play the toilet,” he said. “All those emails were ignored.”

We Need to Do Something, which is currently showing in limited theaters and available on demand, tells the story of a dysfunctional family that becomes trapped inside a bathroom when a tornado causes a tree to fall through the house and block the door. With no way out, the stress and panic intensify, and as the hours tick away, questions arise about an evil that may be lurking outside.

During our interview, Booth discussed the cast’s dynamic on the set, why he enjoys practical effects more than CGI and why negative reviews don’t bother him.

As people watch this movie, do you want them to think about ways they’d try to get out of the bathroom?

No. (Laughs.) To me, the point of the movie and the book wasn’t about the escape itself. I’m pretty sure if anyone really thought about it, they could come up with an easy way to get out of the bathroom. The whole logistics of trying to escape was never the biggest priority to me. I’m sure any critic or audience member could easily point out plot holes with the structure of it, and that’s OK.

You were on set for the film’s production. I’m assuming actor Pat Healy, who plays a sort of manic father, didn’t stay in character during the entire shoot, right?

No, he didn’t stay in character the whole time. He played this loud and violent and unpredictable husband and father, but between takes, he and the rest of the cast were singing songs and joking around. It was a really funny juxtaposition of this angry family and these co-workers kickin’ it between takes.

Tell us something about the snake that finds its way into the bathroom.

It was a puppet. We had almost all practical effects in the movie. [Creature effects creator] Dan Rebert is the guy who designed it and handled it. When the snake comes into the bathroom, [Dan’s] in the bathroom too, controlling the puppet with rods. I was told the second assistant director on the movie is terrified of snakes, so when we had to shoot a scene with the snake — even though it was a puppet — he would not go on set. It was too realistic for him.

Were you happy they decided to go with practical effects?

I was thrilled. The moment [the movie] felt like it was a real thing happening was when Dan started sending us test footage of a tongue he was building in his garage. I’ve always preferred practical effects. They look so much better to me, plus you get stronger performances from the cast because they’re not just looking at a green tennis ball. They’re so much better than anything you could do on a computer.

That tongue was great.

The tongue is so much cooler than I ever visualized. It moves in the movie! I didn’t write it to move! When I saw that, I almost shit my pants in joy. It was like a [David] Cronenberg creation come to life.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that I love when a movie ends vaguely. However, in my experience, most people don’t.

Trust me, I am discovering this. (Laughs.) People don’t like ambiguity in movies. They want things spelled out. That’s OK. I’m not complaining about that. Publishing books for almost a decade has prepared me for negative reviews. They don’t really impact me, and I’m OK with reading them. It’s always interesting to see what someone will say is a negative thing and someone else will say is a positive.

I don’t know what you have planned next, but I could see you doing a horror anthology series.

Yeah, Tales from the Booth. That’s my website’s name. I came up with it when I was 12, and I don’t regret anything.

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