Devolved is an upcoming indie satire/homage to classic nerds vs jocks high school films, done in a fashion that – when everything is working – is reminiscent of the high-concept parodying style of South Park (my review). The story concerns a high school class trip gone wrong, that finds a group of students stuck on a deserted island where they soon descend into socially divided madness. (the film opens in select markets March 4)
The film marks the feature debut of John Cregan, one of the men behind the scenes at Severin Films, the distribution company that gifted the world with James Nguyen’s batshit so-bad-its-life-changing crapsterpiece, Birdemic: Shock and Terror. Generally speaking, I wouldn’t expect an interview with a filmmaker you’ve never heard of, regarding a film you’ve never heard of, to be of much interest. But I think catching a filmmaker right as they’re emerging into the world is a really intriguing moment; a bit like talking with someone who has just graduated from high school or college. You’re catching them at a crossroads. With this frame of mind, I talked with Cregan about the trials and tribulations of birthing his first feature film, and walked away with a fairly enlightening, candid, and funny look behind the curtain.
CHUD: What was the genesis of Devolved? Where did the idea come from?
JOHN CREGAN: I was a couple of years out of film school, and realizing that any script I wrote with a chance in hell of making myself was going to have to be downsized in terms of production needs. Lost was very popular at the time, and I thought the idea of using the stranded-on-an-island trope would be a good small scale concept for a high school satire.
CHUD: Was the Lord of the Flies parody as intentional as it seemed, or did that simply happen organically because of the nature of your concept?
CREGAN: It was intentional in that I knew that I wanted the situation to degenerate by the third act into a parody of Lord of the Flies. I tried to plant some early clues that it was where this was headed. For instance, the identical-looking goth band couple (Jan & Erica) is a tribute to Samneric.
But when you have a group of people on an island, they are naturally going to do many of the things that the characters do in early on in Lord of the Flies; have elections, build a signal fire, etc. Many of the same things happen in the first season of Lost. So a lot of it is organic, I guess. In the end, I wouldn’t say the first hour in Devolved is meant to specifically parody Golding’s novel. Just really the last 20 minutes.