Written for and dedicated to elledritch.
The Worcester Brothers: Revealed
Our own mysterious reporter, Unhobbity Hobbit, talks to screenwriter, Martin Flagg, about his upcoming feature 'The Worcester Brothers'.
Until recently, Martin Flagg was a little-known script writer from Los Angeles, earning his wages working on B movies and straight-to-DVD releases. It's a common plight, and many writers live out their years never moving on to anything better. For a long time the same looked to be happening for Flagg, until he got an unexpected break working on Hell Hazers II: The Reckoning.
Strangely enough, Flagg's work on the film is not what got it so recognised, but the oddly high number of crew deaths whilst working on it. What was originally dismissed by critics as a run-of-the-mill horror movie became a worldwide hit after stories spread about the set being cursed. These were sprouted by the undoubtedly unusual accidents on set, which caused the deaths of three separate crew members. All have been passed off as straightforward accidents, but it must be admitted, that's a pretty severe run of bad luck. For more information, see any number of internet sites detailing every possible theory under the sun.
Tragic though these accidents were for the crew members themselves and their friends and family, for Martin Flagg, they were a morbidly fortuitous turn of events. Suddenly, Flagg's ideas were being snapped up, directors and producers hoping his reputation would bring the horror crowd flocking to see their films. It worked for a few films before the shine wore off and the lack of deaths meant Flagg faded from the general public's collective memory and his films no longer brought the punters.
At this point most writers would go back to their original ways, content with their fifteen minutes of fame and more than their fair share of tales to tell the grandchildren, but not Flagg. Flagg's new film is rumoured to be better than all of his previous scripts combined (which, let's face it, isn't a great feat) and is hailed as being the one film this year that will turn the horror genre on its head. But before we get that far into it, let's start at the beginning, with the title.
"I thought hard about the title," says Flagg, "It had to be bold and memorable, but not too complicated, you know? So I went with just the main characters, because there'll be all the intrigue about them, like, 'who are those guys and what do they do?'"
That's all very well and good, but I find myself compelled to ask, what's so special about Worcester?
"When I was choosing the names, I just felt drawn to the letter W. And then I found there were loads of places that started with W in England and after that it was real easy to pick a name!"
So, moving on from that, The Worcester Brothers is about two brothers, Sean and Dom, who travel the United States of America hunting down and ridding the world of every horror film cliché they come across. Or as they put it, hunting things, saving people, the family business. Think Ghostbusters, but as a low budget, family run escapade, which often branches out in to more than just ghosts. It's definitely an original idea, what was the inspiration behind it?
"Well, that was another thing that just came to me. I was like, what if, instead of seeing the horror from the victim's point of view, we saw it from the point of view of the ghostbusters, except different from Ghostbusters? And then, what if they were related to each other and were brothers? Then there could be, like, this whole other side to it, with family relations on the one hand set against these crazy supernatural hunts on the other. 'Cause, you know, everyone's got a family, it's something everyone in the audience will be able to relate to."
The brothers themselves are, if you've seen any of Flagg's other work, surprisingly well-rounded characters. Sean is a brash and brazen womanizer with some endearing insecurities that raise him above the average two dimensional characters you find in horror movies. Dom, the younger brother has a whole different set of issues stemming from his desire to get out of the family business and have a normal life. Both boys have their own separate, but equally large problems with their distant, yet controlling father and recently deceased mother.
The father, never seen, but often heard over the phone giving orders in the style of Charlie himself from Charlie's Angels, remains at the headquarters of the family business in Kansas, sending his sons across America to take down the things that go bump in the night. This causes tension between the brothers and culminates in some very dramatic scenes.
"Yeah," relates Flagg, "Their dad is a totally ambiguous character. He's, like, larger than life and Sean worships him. Dom was closer to his mom, though, and it really messes him up when she dies. The whole story is kind of about Dom coming to terms with his loss and his new place in the family now there's only three of them. He's got this internal conflict going on because he doesn't want to hunt any more, you know? But he still wants to get revenge for what happened to his mom."
The amount of effort that's gone into this story, at the risk of straying into libellous areas, surprises me greatly. Compared to the entirety of Flagg's previous work, a huge amount of thought seems to have gone into this plot.
"Why do you think it's taken me a year to get this thing filmed?" laughs Flagg, "I spent ages researching on, like, Wikipedia and talking to people that know about this stuff. I had to get the details right, otherwise I knew it wouldn't work, because details are totally my thing."
There's no doubt that part of what makes the story so compelling is the little details, as well as the great plot consistency. It must be admitted that all of Flagg's hard work seems to have paid off, but in the end, only time and box office sales will tell.
The Worcester Brothers comes out in cinemas everywhere at the end of June.