RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES chats with writer Jeff Lane and director Aaron Thomas about forthcoming British horror-thriller One Way
Imagine this. You stop off to fill your car up with fuel late one night. Your wife suddenly appears from out of nowhere, looking older than she did this when you left home this morning. She informs you that she has come back in time to prevent your murder on this very evening. Meanwhile, your killer and his accomplice are in pursuit…
This intriguing concept forms the basis of One Way, a gripping horror-thriller from US author Jeff Lane, transplanted to England in a screen adaptation from British film maker Aaron Thomas. Supported by crowdfunding via Indiegogo, it is expected the film will be ready for festival screenings in mid-2016, with a DVD/Blu-Ray release set for December that year, supported by selected cinema engagements.
I caught up with Jeff and Aaron to discuss the film, the first feature from their joint venture, Hours Apart Films.
“I was working late at a call centre (in Maine), and stopped to get gas on the way home”, recalls Jeff as we discuss the origins of the story. “Heading back to my car, I just got a magical, mystical feeling like anything could happen… That was the seed that I eventually worked into a wife travelling back in time to stop her husband from getting murdered”.
I asked Jeff whether he had any reservations in transplanting the tale to the UK.
“For me, I had no reservations about moving the setting to England” says Jeff, “I am a bit of an Anglophile anyway. I love British and UK culture and art. I watch a lot of TV and movies from “across the pond”, and there was nothing in One Way that HAD to be set in Maine.”
Will the unpredictable English weather be a problem? “We did talk about the winter setting”, Jeff continues, “as a big piece of the action happens around and on a frozen lake. Rather than risk not getting the right weather conditions in England, we decided to change the season to autumn and the lake to a wide open field. But the overall story doesn’t really change.”
Director Aaron already has Dumar Volume Two, a thriller set in the corporate world under his belt. He tells me what drew him to One Way is “firstly, when I first heard the audiobook I loved it so much I listened to it at least four times. It just made sense as we could recreate that world in London. Jeff has a great following in Europe so the adaptation would hopefully not be lost in translation.”
Jenny (Sofia Moura) has been widowed for some time when she begins to see Dr Peter Van Dehn (Tom Sykes), an unorthodox counsellor who makes an unusual proposition to Jenny. It seems he and some colleagues have been experimenting with time-travel, and he suggests it may be possible to save Barry (Gregory Cathcart) from his grisly death on that fateful night. The time-travel process is pleasantly free of mechanical contraptions.
Jeff: “When I first started, I wrote the first eight or nine thousand words not knowing how she (Jenny) got back. I knew I wanted it to be different… No DeLorean in the bushes with ice melting off. The “organic” or innate part appealed to me as it was very personal. Only Jenny could do this for Barry.”
The villain of the piece is one Jedidiah Folsom (to be played by Rupert Shelbourne), a genuinely chilling character on the page. He’s more than just a nasty piece of work, and he has hidden gifts and capabilities in hunting his prey. Jeff elaborates: “Jedidiah revealed himself along the way. At first it was just two serial killers, but as I realized I had to write some of the story from their perspective, I had to give them motivations for doing what they do.”
“Rodney (Jedidiah’s accomplice, played by Elijah Stanislas) is just damaged and susceptible to an older leadership figure. Jedidiah had to be more complex. And his metaphysical sense of time and destiny made him a perfect antagonist for Barry and Jenny. Not just any victim would do. It had to be Barry… And then Jenny to make his chase compelling.”
The cast has been rehearsing for a few months now. “I started casting about two years ago and just finished in January”, says Aaron. “It was a great process as I use the workshop method (term I coined some years back) with a lot of improv. I do not see this as auditions and relay this to all those involved, for me it takes away the tension an actor may feel when usually going for roles.”
“It is paramount to me all cast/crew are positive ambitious people as once in the right setting as a team we can achieve anything, support each other and most important learn from each other.”
In its literary form, One Way is a compulsive page-turner in the classic sense. If its screen outing captures that essence (and Aaron’s enthusiasm for the story certainly suggests it will), the audience is in for one hell of a ride.
You can read my interview with Jeff and Aaron in full at The Purple Patch Blog.
RICHARD PHILLIPS-JONES lives with his wife close to the Dorset Coast. He spends far too much of his spare time watching horror films and listening to psychedelic music (sometimes simultaneously). He also writes on Movies, Music, TV and other matters for his blog, The Purple Patch. You can follow him on Twitter @PurplePatchBlog