You wouldn’t think a section of the Bible could be considered as inspiration for a horror film, but ‘The Remaining’ is just that. With genuine genre scares mixed in with an accurate adaptation of the Book of Revelation, director Casey La Scala has developed a film that takes the warnings from the Bible and put it into a horror film that all audiences can enjoy. ScienceFiction.com had the pleasure to speak with La Scala about his film and the inspirations behind it.
ScienceFiction.com (SF): Before we really get into talking about ‘The Remaining,’ can you first tell our readers what the film is about?
Casey La Scala (CL): It’s the story of the biblical end of the world. It really focuses on four best friends on the best days of their lives with two of them marrying each other right when the Rapture happens and what happens right after that. The film is very, very biblically accurate and follows Revelation. We walk through the signs. Like we have seven trumpets in the movie and every woe that happens after is very accurate. For me, I just really wanted it to be a story of characters that in the face of death somehow find their redemption, they find faith and they question themselves.
SF: So this is a very character driven film?
CL: I started with the characters then I started moving through the aspects of the storytelling like the trumpets and the obstacles and all that stuff. But I really wanted to focus on all the relationships. What I’m hoping is that the audience will have a takeaway and they can connect with the characters. All the characters are kind of different and hopefully everyone in the audience can relate to at least one of them and reflect on their own lives.
SF: Of all the Bible stories to choose from, what made you decide to use the Book of Revelation? I mean, most people don’t read that and say “Hey! Horror story!”
CL: You know, that’s funny because I was raised Lutheran. I was raised in church and I was confirmed. I was being taught about the Rapture, the Tribulation and about Revelation and that really ingrained in me when I was a kid. Throughout the years, I’ve gone in and out of church and am semi-active in the faith but ultimately my childhood upbringing coupled with me writing on ‘The Amityville Horror’… my partner Jason Blum, who does all the ‘Paranormal Activities’ movies, made me think, “What about a global paranormal activity?” So that’s how the two worlds collided. So, my upbringing and the belief that the Tribulation is coming and this world of the paranormal activity that I was entrenched in, that’s how everything came together and I came up with the concept.
What’s really interesting about Revelation is that there is a whole first part of it that is kinda apocalyptic with the whole world coming to an end like in ‘2012.’ It’s like the disaster portion of these trumpet sounds and all these woes of the world going through natural calamities. Then it moves into more of the supernatural, like after the sixth trumpet sounds, the Abyss opens allowing the Fallen to be released and torment mankind which I think is so interesting.
If you saw the trailer it seems like there are two acts to the trailer. The first feels like a disaster movie then it unravels into something more demonic and more supernatural. It’s really interesting and the story of Revelation helps create those two spheres of storytelling which I think is great!
SF: The timing of the film’s release with what is happening in the world is kind of serendipitous.
CL: The timing is awesome although, I would love to have a world where we all got along and there weren’t viruses and nature wasn’t freaking out – you know what I mean? I would rather have that version so there is no fear of the end of the world, but the fact is that it breeds more interest in my movie obviously.
SF: Some say we are now living in the End of Times. So having made this film, what are your thoughts on this?
CL: I think what’s happening now is that you see around us that nature is acting a little bit wacky. You have the Ebola virus that is happening now, you have this unrest in the Middle East and you have all of these things that are leaning to “Where are we going to be 5 years from now?” so I think that is in the zeitgeist right now. It’s interesting that the movie is mirroring what is happening in society right now. Which is cool. I like watching this and seeing how the more things that are happening in society and the world are almost informing this movie in a weird way. It’s really strange… Where we are right now in society is definitely mirroring what is happening in the movie, for sure.
SF: Are there any concerns with ‘The Remaining’ being such a faith based film?
CL: I paid particular care to make sure this film was biblically accurate and that it wasn’t exploitative. It followed all the rules in Revelation. I wrote this with the full intention of getting the support of faith based community. I really wanted something where they can say it is true to the scriptures and this is real. The line I walked obviously is that I wanted it to be accurate but I also wanted to make sure there was enough dramatic stuff in there for a mainstream audience to take away where they wouldn’t feel like it was specific to the faith based audience. I think we are going to get that.
SF: The film is said to really hit the audiences hard.
CL: We’ve had Impact screenings across the country and there’s been pictures and tweets of people coming out of the lobbies crying, holding on to each other – just really having an incredible emotional response to this film. Those Impact screenings have been specific to the faith based community and they have been so positive that Sony is standing back in awe, because this is really one of the first faith based horror movie in the genre.
SF: What attracts you to make these kinds of movies?
CL: I think it was when I was a young boy reading ‘The Stand.’ Quite honestly, that was the beginning, I read ‘The Stand’ and began reading a lot of Stephen King and I was drawn to it. I love the fantasy aspect to them. I love the escape of them. I love the storytelling and I found the human story was as compelling and scarier than the supernatural one. That’s the thing that always struck me about his books. As I got older and the more writing that I do, I’ve been drawn to characters that are interesting that are being thrown into extreme circumstances, you know? I’m really drawn to that.
SF: Is this something you’d like to see expand out as a franchise?
CS: Everyone is looking at books, adaptation, things that are existing intellectual properties they can use. What’s better than the Bible? (laughs) The next project I just finished in this genre is… remember that movie ‘Heaven is Real’ that just came out? It did really well… I’m doing my version of that called ‘Hell is Real.’ (laughs) Just think of all the horror of that and my character goes in the opposite direction. I just finished writing it. It’s the next think I’m gonna direct and it almost has a lot of the same things about faith and redemption and a little bit of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ in it. And there’s a darkness to it.
SF: The one thing cool about ‘Donnie Darko’ which you also directed, was that each time you watched the film, you got something new out of it. Is this what we can also expect out of ‘The Remaining’?
CL: Easter eggs… yeah I did a little version of that here. For example there is a runner that you won’t notice the first time you see the film but if you watch again… there’s this tree of life that I have. The tree is in a lot of the scenes … that goes all the way to the end where they are burning it at the end of the movie. It’s kind of my symbolism that you would never picked up on unless someone either tells you (like I just told you) or you kind of watch it again and think “What’s that with the tree in the background, there’s a tree at the wedding, there’s a tree at the library…” so there’s this motif that I run through the film which I think is interesting and in the end, it is burning. That’s my little Easter egg that I left for people to watch to pick up a second time.
What I like about ‘Donnie Darko’ is that people still stop me and ask me questions about it as people have their own interpretations about what that movie is about. Whereas the ending of my film ‘The Remaining’ very much leaves you numb and leaves you with a lot of questions, everyone is going to have a different interpretation of the ending and I wanted that. It’s a movie that I hope people will start talking about and thinking about what took place in the film and what might take place in the future. That’s what’s so cool! People can take ownership of the movie and say “I know what it means!’ I love that!
‘The Remaining’ stars Alexa Vega , Shaun Sipos, Johnny Pacar. Italia Ricci, Bryan Dechart and Liz E. Morgan and will be released in theaters September 5th.