Getting to work with a childhood idol is just one of the highlights of shooting the horror film Jacob for Houston-based filmmaker/actor Larry Wade Carrell. The idol in question is actor/director Michael Biehn of The Terminator, Tombstone and Alien. "I used to run around with finger guns, shooting my buddies pretending to be fighting Terminators and this is the guy," laughs Carrell.
Biehn's wife, popular actor Jennifer Blanc-Biehn, came on the project as an associate producer and played a small role as well. And James Hampton (the dad in Teen Wolf) also signed on.
It was his own desire to go do more as an actor that prompted Carrell to make Jacob, a project he not only wrote and directed, but also appears in. (Look for him as Billy on screen.)
Carrell wasn't seeing roles he could really delve into, and often heard the same complaint from other actors. So, along with the trio of well-known Hollywood players, Carrell handpicked talents from Houston to work with, actors he knew were capable of much more than they had been allowed to do in previous projects. "I had written characters with some of them in mind and I knew what I could push, what I get from them."
The film follows a group of people over a day and a half. At the center is Jacob (played by Dylan Horne), an oversized and mentally slow young man who doesn't have anyone but his little sister to love and protect him. When she's killed, Jacob sets out to get revenge.
The film has been getting good response from audiences so far, including actor Robert Englund, who saw some of the footage at a festival screening and told Carrell, "It reminds me of Mice and Men meets Friday the 13th ."
Carrell concedes that while he tried to pack as much emotion and depth into the film as possible, audiences may assume it's just another slasher film. "Obviously, it's going to get lumped in as a horror film, but my vision for the film was, 'What if this was real life?' Of course, it would be real life with a supernatural element.
"My big thing is that there are no false moments on camera," he goes on. "It has to be real, you have to be feeling it or why bother? So when bad things happen in Jacob, they're very bad! I don't pull back from the scary parts, so when it's scary, it's in your face. My job is to either get the audience to laugh or to cry or to be so scared they pee their pants."
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On the schedule for today at Splatterfest, Jacob sold out its first screening and was well on the way to doing the same with its second screening when he spoke to Art Attack.
Carrell says he's anxious to have Jacob screen in his hometown, but even if the theater wasn't filled with friends and family, he's confident about the film.
"I've been working on the film for a year. I edited it, I directed it and if I can see something a gazillion times and still laugh or still cry, still be moved, then I think we've got a good film. It's not that I'm trying to toot my own horn, it's that I'm excited to share this with everybody."
Jacob will screen at Splatterfest Friday at 10:15 p.m. at Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks. Larry Wade Carrell, Michael Biehn, Jennifer Blanc-Biehn and other members of the cast will be present and signing autographs. For information, visit www.splatterfest.com.