Falls filmmaker Mullen brings horror comedy to town

Falls filmmaker Mullen brings horror comedy to town
3-D flick ‘Dead Before Dawn’ shoots throughout July
Niagara Falls Review – 07/07/2011

The hometown girl behind ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser’ and ‘GravyTrain’ is back. And this time she’s covered in blood.

For April Mullen, the third time isn’t quite the charm – it’s a zany horror comedy. ‘Dead Before Dawn,’ which started filming in Niagara Falls last week, is her foray into the supernatural, a chaotic mix of belly laughs and boogeymen.

Think ‘Shaun of the Dead’ meets ‘Superbad,’ she says. In 3-D. “The scale is bigger, for sure,” says the director, a former Miss Teen Niagara. “We were always anxious to work in 3-D, so we catered the script to the 3-D world.”

It’s Mullen’s third feature with longtime partner Tim Doiron, and marks a huge step forward over ‘GravyTrain,’ the cop spoof filmed in Niagara Falls three years ago and released in theatres last year.

The couple have made their mark in young Canadian cinema, and ‘Dead Before Dawn’ is actually the first Canadian feature film to be 100% 3-D.

It has a bigger cast, bigger crew and a bigger budget. Shooting will take place throughout the city over the next month, compared to ‘GravyTrain’s modest two-week shoot downtown.

“It’s like stepping from the indie world into real features,” says Doiron, who wrote the script over two years. “It’s like a whole new process for us. Instead of dealing with 15 people, you’re dealing with 50 people.”

The two filmmakers have studied every 3-D film they could over the past few years, and wont commit the sins of gimmicky movies which merely throw things at the camera.

“Because it’s 3-D you don’t want quick cuts or super close-ups,” says Mullen. “We want to shoot more like it’s an old Italian film, so it’s easier for the audience. This film’s going to be really unique for 3-D,” she adds. “It’s going to be 3-D that people haven’t seen before. There’s not massive explosions coming at you every two minutes, there’s not robots fighting.”

Though Mullen and Doiron both appear in the film, the main roles belong to Canadians Devon Bostwick, who plays Rodrick in the ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ movies, and Martha MacIsaac of ‘Superbad’ and ‘The Last House on the Left.’

Other cast members include Kevin McDonald (‘The Kids in the Hall’) and Brittany Allen (‘All My Children’). Mullen and Doiron promise one more familiar name will be on set in two weeks, much like ‘Saturday Night Live’ star Tim Meadows’ brief appearance in ‘GravyTrain.’

The plot follows a group of college kids who accidentally unleash a plague of ‘zemons’ – half demon, half zombie.

“The whole film takes place over a 24-hour span,” says Doiron. “It’s really quick, it’s fast, it’s youthful. A lot of fun and laughs, it’s like an honest comedy.”

The couple’s fondness of ’80s comedies will be on full display, as will the family members and assorted guest stars who drop by whenever Mullen returns home. Despite living in Toronto, she didn’t hesitate heading back to film in Niagara Falls.

“I just love coming home,” he says. “If there’s a choice … why not ? Also, there’s much more unique locations here. Rather than the big city, we wanted to have a small town feel. If there’s one I’m going to pick, it’s always going to be home.”

Locals have their chance to appear in the film Friday night. About 200 extras are needed for a nighttime scene at Saint Paul high school. They’re advised to wear bright colours, apply bug spray, and show up at 8:30 p.m. Most of the cast will be on set.

“It’s where the curse starts,” says Mullen. “It’s a really exciting scene.”


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