Amnesiac is the new horror-thriller starring Kate Bosworth and Wes Bentley. We spoke with director Michael Polish about his new film and in the process discussed some of the graphic and disturbing themes that were a part of it. Have a look and see the film available August 14th.
First thing’s first, Kate Bosworth received a screenplay and she asked me what I thought. It was a very modern day piece, sort of the scenario of a stranger waking up in a room and not quite knowing who he is or where he’s at but not admitting it. I felt it reminded me a lot of a the classics and that it would be neat if the woman character believed that she also lived in that time. And if we could make it, we’d have a classic looking movie with today’s ideas of what she’s going through and what she wants. So once Kate said, “That would be a lot of fun. I would love to play a character like that.”, I said, “Well at least I could make it look good.”
Definitely. Did you have a lot of affection for the 50s and that sort of aesthetic because it really shows up in the film.
MP: Yeah. I love to watch movies that have a lot of craft and are very thoughtful. Looking at some of the older films and the Hitchcock blondes, even in the 70s if you look at Roman Polanski and how he crafted certain aspects of psychological thrillers, it’s nice to watch. Even though this film is set now you learn a lot from filmmakers of the past who were doing this on a daily manner and doing it really well.
AH: So, for your influences you hearkened back to Hitchcock and Polanski. For the film side of it did you get into any history, true crime or anything along those lines, because it kind of seems like some of that is present in the film.
MP: I decided it would be nice to have a hard-boiled detective to bring to this woman holding somebody captive because it felt like it was straight out of a headline. And it’s usually the female that you read about that’s been tied up or held in captivity for years, so it was nice to have the character played by Wes Bentley be the one that isn’t quite sure. And that hearkened back to very strong characters from the 50s and 60s where you’d have roles like this that really had a femme fatale in the way that it could be real at the same time. This could be a real story if somebody survived it.
AH: Kate Bosworth’s character in the film is very intense; just this disturbed and brutal character. Did she bring a lot of ideas to the table for that or did you work with her on the delivery at all?
MP: It was both. The script had a character that was psychotic and had psychological problems thinking she was in the 50s, and some of the facts that were coming out of her mouth were quite like you would be taken aback, like where would that come from? So it could be very camp at a certain point or it could be very serious; so what we wanted to do was once she got her look down as this pretty forward, stingy looking costume that was just very well tailored to her, she was able to bring this crass kind of feel about everything and she lived that part. You could almost feel that it could be One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest in a way.
AH: The trivia that she sort of recites throughout the film, all of these facts and these different statistics; was that included in the script, did that come from something that she had thrown into the character or was that more from what the writers Amy Kolquist and Mike Le brought in?
MP: It was all of that. I think the original one we’re talking about was chicken noodle soup, and then we decided, “Let’s push this even farther.” So when we got into the room where she was electrocuting him to the music of Conway Twitty, that stuff we hit right off the bat, and some of the facts that came we started to do more random. But there was a jumping off point when we read the chicken noodle soup line, then we pushed it even farther.
AH: The Conway Twitty music does a kind of bookending with where the film starts to get mysterious and what eventually happens. Talking about Kate Bosworth living the part, how did that transfer to off-screen, when you’re off set and everyone’s trying to work together behind the scenes?
MP: I know, I had to go home with that woman.(laughs) Y’know when you make a movie that’s complicated in certain ways, you find a lot more laughter in life. I maybe want to do more of these kinds of movies, because when you have buckets of blood the humor’s there and it’s not quite as serious as it might seem. It was absurd, some of those ideas like when she’s electrocuting him and also when she’s down to give him a lobotomy, just trying to drive a nail into his eye. Once you call cut everybody just kind of goes, “What the heck. That’s so crazy.” And it get’s light very fast.
AH: So will be seeing your film available anytime soon?
MP: Yeah, it comes out on August 14th and it’s in a couple theaters and also iTunes and VOD. So what I like about a film like this is if you hear about it you can actually see it when you hear it, as opposed to certain aspects where you go, “Well I can’t find it.” You can find this film on August 14th just about anywhere you want.
AH: Sounds good. We’ll be keeping an eye out for it. Michael Polish, thank you very much for your time. It’s been a great time talking to you.
MP: I appreciate it. Thank you Andrew.