Horror Film Director

A FILM DIVIDED…


Posted on September 27th, by Darren Lynn Bousman in blog, Mother's Day. 29 comments


Mother’s Day ended at 3am early Friday morning at it’s first public screening in Austin, TX.

As I walked in the lobby, I knew something was amiss as I saw some friends of mine, turn and hurriedly walk out of the theater.

My wife and I saw a good friend of ours standing by himself, someone who I had snuck into the sold out screening…

“Well?” I asked, hoping for a high five, or at least a thumbs up.

He looked at me, meekly shook his head.  ”I kind of hated it.”

My heart dropped… As I stood there, taking in his five word review – a critic walked up to me threw his arm around my shoulder!  ”Fucking BRILLIANT – Dude, this is your BEST FILM!!!”

A FILM DIVIDED:

“Mother’s Day is by far the best of this sub-genre of horror movies.  It’s by far the best film Darren Lynn Bousman has directed.  And it’s also the best ensemble cast you’re probably ever going to see in a genre film of this sort.”MASSIVE HYSTERIA

Mother’s Day simply does not work, even as derivative genre fare; and while it may have previously been a badge of honor to release something containing what could be considered the most distasteful scene of the year, in 2010 that’s a dubious accomplishment – which in this case is also a perfect description for the movie as a whole.” TODDGILCHRIST.COM

“Darren Lynn Bousman is a director that not only knows how to craft a great horror film, he grows with each film, and after watching Mother’s Day he’s climbed his way up to my top 10 directors to watch list. Mother’s Day is positively a killer film.” KILLERFILM

Saturday was my last day in Austin.  My wife and I had flown there to screen my latest film, MOTHER’S DAY at the amazing Fantastic Fest Film Festival.

Saturday afternoon was our day off, and we decided to take a walk down to 6th Street… The epicenter of downtown Austin… bars – restaurants, street musicians, etc.

As we were walking down the street, I noticed this kid sitting by himself, eating a giant sausage.   He was probably eight or nine, a little overweight, pasty white with a half mullet, and sweat pouring down his face.  His shirt looked like it had consumed more of this sausage than his stomach did.

As we passed him, I saw a woman in front of me nudge her husband… “Disgusting,” she said.

The kid was pretty disgusting… At least to a passerby out enjoying the hot Austin weather…

It struck me then, how much my movies… actually, ALL movies, have in common with the sausage eater…

Somewhere, strolling around Austin, was this kid’s mom… Most likely inside her purse she had pictures of her little Sausage eater, which she would happily pull out and show the girls at the beauty shop…

“This is my boy,” she would say proudly, “and he loves sausages!”

Odds are, the sausage eater had friends who liked him, teachers who respected him, and a father who looked forward to teaching him the joy of the birds and the bees.

But not today… Today, to us… he was the sweaty sausage eater who sat alone on a street corner.

I shudder to think how his mother would feel if she knew that while her son was out  enjoying his snack, he was being mocked by those strolling about.

While I was having this profound thought, my phone beeped, and I was alerted I had an email.  A review from my latest movie, MOTHER’S DAY, and it was less than glowing… In fact, it was downright mean…  It was a review filled with hate…

No one ever prepares you for the harsh reality of being reviewed… Being torn apart – having something you love being dissected, and shat on.  Imagine spending years on something only to show it to the world, and then be smacked in the face.

HOW IN FUCK’S SAKE CAN THEY NOT UNDERSTAND THE SUBTLE NUANCES OF MY BRILLIANCE?!  (I kid, I kid)

So I stood there, next to the Sausage eater, reading my review, a little bit crushed, and a lot bit sweating… (It’s Austin… it was fucking hot!)

It was then that it hit me… I, too, was the Sausage eater.

I had put myself out there to be openly ridiculed and picked apart.

SOMETHING THEY DON’T TEACH YOU IN FILM SCHOOL…

Part of being an artist is being able to understand and take critiques… You create art – to hopefully affect the viewer… I am sure there are TONS of artists out there, however, who never PUBLICLY display their creations…  They keep them hidden from the outside world, locked away, only to come home at night and marvel at their work…

In the film world, that is not a luxury we have… You make a movie with the hope and aspiration of the world seeing your story… You put it out there to be picked apart, studied, and eventually… judged.

I have had the good fortune that some of the movies I have been a part of have been ‘critic proof’… No matter how bad your review of SAW was, people were still coming to see it…

Knowing this however does not make the blow any easier to wake up and see you have a 10% on Rotten Tomatoes…

REPO! was a different beast. It was not part of a huge franchise, nor was it a studio darling.  It was a PASSION PROJECT…

I don’t care what filmmakers say in public, they all read their reviews.  The GOOD ones, and the BAD…

In the case of REPO!, the majority of the reviews were bad.

I actually have the bragging rights to say BEN LYONS called my movie the WORST MOVIE of 2008, I believe he was also the critic to say REPO was in the running for the worst movie OF ALL TIME!!!

YOWSA!

There is a point in which you can laugh at certain critics’ ignorance… In Ben Lyons’ case, he has a track record for being a douche nozzle, so that one rolled off my back….

But there are other reviews that are just mean-spirited… Aimed not at the movie, but at the filmmaker…

I will never forget one reviewer saying “BOUSMAN OUGHT TO BE SHOT for encouraging this type of violence in the cinema…”  His review spoke not of the movie… But of the man making the film…

The great thing about America is FREE SPEECH…

Anyone can say anything they want.

Ben Lyons has the right to say I made the worst film in the history of movies, and I have the right to say he hates kittens…

One thing that I have begun to notice about myself as a filmmaker – the movies that I am attracted to seem to be the POLARIZING kind.  The ones that will not only DIVIDE an audience, but also put up a brick wall in between them…

Nothing makes me happier than to read the REPO! DEBATES in which a REPO! fan will try to defend why he/she loves the film, while the haters give examples of why it blows.

Wanna talk about a film that is polarizing? RENT REPO…

So enters MOTHER’S DAY:  in my mind, a major accomplishment in my career as a director.  I think it is not only my most mature film… It’s also my best…

If you are reading this blog, you are probably well aware of the trials and tribulations of getting this movie seen and bought… The movie has been done for months, and only this week was it sold…

I will be the first to admit that MOTHER’S DAY is NOT for everyone… It’s RAW, BRUTAL, VIOLENT, SICK, AND yes, at times MEAN-SPIRTED… Now, some of you may read this sentence and say SIGN ME UP!!!! I love that…. But it is also DRAMATIC… It borders at times on being categorized as a “DRAMA”, and not even a horror film.

So what does all of this have to do with the SAUSAGE EATER?

As the lady in front of me thought, “disgusting,” the sausage eater’s mother sits at home thinking of  “love.”  The same child… TWO completely different outlooks…

Filmmaking, I have learned, is the same… Take this week’s Fantastic Fest screening…

SOME of the best reviews of my career….

“MOTHER’S DAY came at me hard and ran me over like a horror freight train. The flick just wouldn’t stop pummeling the shit out of me and at the end of it, I was a better man for it. Solid acting all around (with De Mornay knocking it out of the park), a grab you by the collar pace, an engaging visual style, tension galore and a knack for shoving the boundaries in a coffin and setting it aflame.  MOTHER’S DAY was the real deal.” ARROW IN THE HEAD

Also… Some of the worst…

“If you held a gun to my head, asked me what positive thing I could say about this film to survive, I’d probably say Deborah Ann Woll is hot and there’s a cool scene (involving a borderline-incestuous hand-job that ends before entering the realm of shock), and Addley is a pretty decent, if generic villain. “ FILM SCHOOL REJECTS

Wow… Maybe they saw different cuts of the movie?   No… That can’t be it…

“MOTHER’S DAY is triumphantly and seriously F’ed Up” AIN’T IT COOL NEWS.

“MOTHER’S DAY – It’s Just Awful…” FIRSTSHOWING.NET

“All of the actors are phenomenal, especially De Mornay, who excited me every time she opened her mouth.  It’s too bad the Oscars are such a sham because De Mornay deserves more than just a nomination…KILLER FILM

“…the characters are just paper-thin and rather generic” SLASH FILM

Hmmm…

“The set-up, the dire circumstances (thanks to a terrific script by Scott Milam) and the strong performances all around make MOTHER’S DAY an outstanding fright flick.  Yet it simply doesn’t exist to shock; there is truthfulness about this story that will resonate with those simply looking for more than a good and gruesome horror flick, but it will also appeal to the loyal horror fans looking for something scary, bloody, and edge of your seat exciting.  The simple fact is, you root for these people, even the bad guys.  Brutal, intense, and easily one of the best thrillers I have seen in the last few years…” IAMROGUE

“…there’s nothing else except misdirection, plot contrivance and “forgetful filmmaking” to keep the story going” CRAVEONLINE

MOTHER’S DAY is not cookie-cutter horror filmmaking.  There is genuine thinking going on here… The film’s power stems from its grey areas and moral complexity.  I see more horror films in a given year than I can handle.  But the turn off in my head isn’t from torture or gore or exploitation: the turn off comes when it’s disgustingly clear that movies have been clicked and diced to fit a formula.   Even the ending is unusual and will leave you with a hollow, twisted feeling in your gut.  I fucking love that sensation, and I fucking love this movie…” AINTITCOOLNEWS

These are all websites I greatly respect, all from critics whose views I admire.   The horror community and these sites have been amazing to me over the years.   I look forward to them all catching whatever I do next, as well, I look forward to their reviews.

But what about everyone else?  What about the thousands of TWEETS that flooded the Internet seconds after the movie…

“THIS THE WORST GODDAMN MOVIE I HAVE EVER FUCKING SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE!!!!”

“This is Darren’s best flick – I am still shaking.”

“WTF did I just watch?  And why did I sit through that – it was absolutely terrible.”

“Just saw MOTHER’S DAY #fantasticfest one of the most dramatic well acted horror films in recent history.”

“MOTHER’S DAY = MASSIVE FAIL. Bousman sucks, and so does this movie!”

“MOTHER’S DAY at Fantastic Fest is the reel deal yall!  Best horror film in years”

But was my film the mildly obese kid eating the sausage?   How could someone love something, and someone else HATE it so much?

That, my dear readers is LIFE…

I got into filmmaking to make films that create debate… discussion… NEVER did I envision myself making bubblegum entertainment… So seems to be the case with Mother’s Day… Even looking at the reviews from ONE site there is a massive devide…

1. “MOTHER’S DAY is triumphantly & seriously F’d up!  Good film, tough and mean” Harry Knowles, AINT IT COOL NEWS

2. “This movie is worthless and an insult to your very sensibilities. Avoid it at all costs.” Massawyrm AINT IT COOL NEWS

3.  ”This is one of the good ones of this genre and shouldn’t be missed. It should also be protected like an endangered species.” Capone, AINT IT COOL NEWS

Obviously nothing in my life would make me happier than creating something that is unanimously loved… But the reality is – that is just not life…

“Mother’s Day” absolutely exceeds its source material, and despite the feeling that this sort of material has been done, and perhaps done too much at this point, the film most succeeds, and should be able to reach more than just a horror audience thanks to the strong performances and Bousman’s impressive sense of restraint with even the most horrible moments.” HITFX

“… the lack of character both in the people within the film as well as the narrative at hand leaves you with an empty embrace, as if the maternal passion has long since gone. All that is left are the morsels, and even those are rotting your teeth. You know. Like Mother always said.” FIRSTSHOWING.NET

My wife loves sushi… I can’t stand it…

I love Boo Berry cereal, she hates it…

In our normal life, however, these debates are kept civil, and short-winded… But in film – a debate stretches into the MILLIONS reading it.

I will never forget when REPO! began being screened… A negative review popped up amongst numerous positive reviews.  It came from an online blogger living in Florida.  He had seen the movie during one of my REPO! Road Tours.  He hated it… LOATHED it.  His scathing review is still etched in my mind and haunts my sleep.    His hate-filled rant on the ‘gayness’ of REPO!, calling the film a travesty of cinema – was picked up by a local newspaper… that newspaper ran the article – which in turn was picked up nationwide.   Within 24 short hours, one person’s voice reached millions.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO LIKED IT?  LOVED IT?!

It was then that I came to the most important realization I have had as a filmmaker.  It’s better to be polarizing than it is to be in the middle.

People HATED REPO! – People LOVED REPO! – but it was hard to find many who just ‘LIKED’ REPO!

I see that my new film will swim in the same waters.  While I don’t envision a MOTHER’S DAY ARMY – I think it will be another film LOVED by some, and DESPISED by others.

…You know what… I am okay with that.   I am fine being the Sausage eater.  (wait… that didn’t come out right!)   Some will watch and laugh – others will look on adoringly.

“…“Mother’s Day is a hateful, sloppily written, horribly performed story with the same slick execution Busman has become known for… Iike catching a glimpse of a car wreck as you pass on the freeway.  It’s just bad, and that car wreck you may have held out hope for catching sight of has been cleaned up, but bloodied bodies are still laying on the pavement.” FIRSTSHOWING

“With the Saw films and Repo! The Genetic Opera behind him, he tackles the psychological aspects of the film with terrific and intense results…” SHOCKTILLYOUDROP

I don’t think I will ever grow a thick enough skin to let the negative reviews roll off my back… I will always obsess, and fixate on the negative.

A girl walks down the steet, nine guys approach her and tell her how beautiful she is, and complement everything about her.  One guy see’s her and calls her a fat cow.   Suddenly the nine the guys are trumped by the one…

That being said – I am proud of the flick, and stand behind the vision of the film.  I look forward to finalizing everything, and getting it ready for mass consumption.

MOTHER’S DAY is coming… I look forward to you all seeing it and seeing which side of the fence you fall on…  Either side is cool by me!

Until next time,

dlb





  • http://www.checkoutfilm.com Ruwan Heggelman

    Wow.. I’m gonna read it again! Thank you!!

  • Donna

    I had to stop reading the reviews after the one about the handjob. I wanted to be totally “virgin” for this film experience. That’s why I watch very few trailers. Oh well. Hopefully not too much damage done.

    82% fan rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Way to go Darren!

    • http://www.TerranceZdunich.com Terrance

      I too hate kittens. All of ‘em. Ben Lyons is a brave man for letting that photo be taken of him.

  • http://www.findingwhitters.com Whitters

    Well… I for one am looking forward to seeing it ^_^ Regardless of what the reviews say.

    Since… Ya know… “The worst movie of 2008/possibly all time” is one of my absolute favorites of all time! =D

  • Shiromisa

    Hey, I’m gonna say again what I said in chat–I haven’t seen this movie yet, but I know it’s gonna be amazing, because you’re a damn good
    director. Don’t listen to those fuckheads. I can’t wait to see it!

  • Meggy

    I am actually so excited to see this movie, I have been for a long time. And all I can say is “f’ed up” for a horror movie is a good thing. Otherwise it’d mean it was tame, and noone likes a tame horror movie. Keep making amazing movies I can’t wait to see Mother’s Day.
    P.s. do you have any idea if it will be screening in the UK?

  • http://www.scifiscotland.com Steve Fletcher

    Well said, dude! You can’t please everyone all the time, and as long as you’re happy with what you do… You’ve done your job.
    If people like it, then that’s a bonus, but art is subjective.
    YOUR art, is awesome :)

  • scot

    Fuck those mother fuckers. Don’t let the negative reviews get you down, use them to go even further. You’re the spine of the most successful horror franchise, your next movie then got it’s own fucking army even before it was released even in cinema (I joined the Repo! forum the first day you opened it!) and when it finally came out the army got bigger and stronger. Fair enough some of these ‘critics’ don’t like your movie, but you have an entire fanbase that you inspire and we geniunely adore your movies. You’re one of the, if not THE most sincere film maker I have come across. You’re also one of the most talented. There’s a reason people like me and the others posting here are following you, because we know you’re worth following. You’re not just another horror film director, you’re a geniune, passionate artist when it comes to your films. We are all waiting for your films because we know they’re worth seeing. People want to see your films. All of your SAWS opened #1, Repo! may not have made millions but I still remember, in it’s first week, it made more money per theatre then the #1 film of the week.

    Some of these ‘critics’ attacking your film do the exact same to every other movie they see, they’re just bitter. You’re a truly talented film maker who inspires many others (including myself). Don’t get down DLB, my Amber Sweet poster doesn’t approve of that at all.

    TESTIFY!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kimmythelioness Sweets Superfan Kim

    Okay, I love that my Captcha word was “bousman” :) Darren, you are the fucking man. Haters WILL hate, and they in turn will have way more hating on them. The things you shared with us in your Q&A after the August show of Repo! here in Sacramento will stick with us all, and I for one admire the balls it takes to make something that is not for everyone. Critics that like it, great… those that don’t should move onto something they do like. Your true fans will tell you the truth, and you can always be proud of your accomplishments. After all, the rent on the critics’ mom’s basement apartment is probably 90 days delinquent :)

  • http://www.vgspoofs.com Steve Rudzinski

    How can your wife hate the absolute best breakfast cereal known to mankind?

  • http://www.canthe5survive.com mch2k

    I have seen all your films (except Mother’s Day) and have always respected you as an artist. As an actor (and aspiring producer) I understand the ‘Slings and Arrows’ artists suffer for their art. This is the by for the BEST response to criticism I have ever read.

    You’re an inspiration for those of us who ‘put it all out there’. Thanks fir writing this.

    I look forward to your vision of Mother’s Day. Love it or hate it… It’s cool to know you care what I think… That speaks volumes.

    The best

    Matthew

  • http://www.MsSatan.com Satan

    I sense that this is a recap of all the things you learned while hearing the reviews for Repo. Having not seen this film, I don’t know about your work, but I do love you.

    Keep it up, Sausage Eater.

    xoxox

  • http://www.vimeo.com/joemartino Joe

    Darren your the man, your blogs fucking rock they are so fun to read and you and I seem to think in a very similar way. I cant wait for Mothers Day man I love movies that have something unique to offer. It sounds like a drama,thriller,horror,black comedy all in one. Sign me up!!!!

  • http://dorkstranger.tumblr.com Doryen Chin

    Darren,

    I’ve been a huge fan of your work for fucking years. Great art is not meant to be loved by all. Great art is meant to inspire a reaction that stirs intense feelings within the viewer. Whether those feelings induce vomiting or a chorus of praise is irrelevant. The important thing is that the feelings are there at all.

  • Dr. X

    Mother’s day was down right awful, as described in my post on Fantastic Fest. Why must you and other directors have stupid people doing stupid things.
    ” hello, is there someone here”
    I held my tongue and left the Q & A. I was tempted to give the writer an eraser.

    • Gary Rhodes

      Why didn’t you open your mouth? At least you could have spoke up and expressed what you thought instead of being a coward and hiding behind a computer. It’s hacks like you that give real journalism a bad name.

  • the.dentist

    I can’t take you seriously anymore. Between your over gross use of the ellipsis and your dragging REPO! in to EVERYTHING, you’ve become nothing more than a joke to me.

  • http://facebook.com/kaiquebarros Kaique Barros

    Darren,

    I will never forget the amazing experiences during two of the Repo! Road Tours that I attended, as well as being able to say you recognized me as horror_lover on Bloody-Disgusting, hugging me, and thanking me for being such a big fan. I admire your work and your views on all of this bullshit that comes with creating your art.

    I moved to Brasil 3 weeks ago and I doubt it will come out here any time soon, but instead of illegally downloading the film once it comes out, I will wait for the bluray so I get to experience the brutality over and over again!

    Keep doing your thing, man.

  • Tyler

    No way around it. People love to hate. Very few people can get past their personal bias to truly appreciate art, whether they like it or not (ex: I HATE the Godfather. It bored the hell out of me, but I’ll be the first to admit that film was amazing on all film making standpoints and is a great film, regardless of my personal preference). I think your films are true talent, and you direct with the best of them.

  • http://www.dmcompetition.com Vinc360

    I know I’ll be on the good side. I’m one of the biggest Saw fans out there and I thought REPO was great even though it’s not my cup of tea, I still enjoyed it. Mother’s day looks amazing… I’ll see it on day one.

  • Terra

    “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

  • Mr Green Genes

    Keep on doing what you do, myself and my friends enjoy your films for the most part (save for maybe Saw IV…sorry, but after part III it was a bit of a letdown for us ) and especially REPO! You got a credible performance out of Paris Hilton man, you deserve a fucking medal.

    Looking forward to Mother’s Day (even loved the Troma one in the 80′s and this looks far superior, a proper film…but I can’t help loving Troma! Terror Firmer FTW) and I really hope it’s showing at the IFI Horrorthon in Dublin in late October and they get you as a guest.

    As for reviews, may I just quote Dr. Seuss;

    Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

    • Alli

      Well, my husband IS a film critic. We BOTH loved ‘REPO” and had he pleasure of meeting you on a road tour. I feel he gives movies a fair shake. Believe me, we do not always agree and he respects that as I do his opinions. No, he did not like this film. He told me it could be really good with some tweeks. He still wants me to see it when it comes out because he knows I like the Bousman style and the genre of film. I truly respect this forum that was created and the integrity of the filmmaker. Very classy. I wear my heart on my sleeve and can only imagine a director’s film is like his baby. And I understand why you bring up ‘REPO’. One of the kids. Good luck!

  • http://www.arrowinthehead.com John Fallon

    At the end of the neck-snap, the way I see it: you made a film, if you’re content and proud of it, its all that matters. The positive reviews are gravy, the negative reviews are inconsequential. Just my perspective. Keep rocking it DB!

    John “I’m no critic, just a dude with a fucking opinion” Fallon

  • rammmses

    Now that’s pretty interesting. I’m so much looking forward to this one especially since I LOVED all your movies so far.
    I also don’t give much about critics because it highly comes down to subjectivity. It’s a good sign when a movie polarizes because then it must be something special. REPO! was innovative and daring in many aspects – people have to acknowledge that no matter if they liked it or not. Also SAW IV didn’t go the easy way but instead implemented an extremely complex storyline in a mainstream horror movie. I really like it when filmmakers approach things differently – it might not be liked by everyone, but it’s still better to have a few haters and lovers instead of everyone just saying “It was alright.”

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  • Tiffany

    I for one will see this movie. I never listen to critics anyway. I like to make up my own mind about a movie. Also, Repo! Is one of my favorite movies! Critics just like to blow hot air.

  • ASHLEYY

    I thought your article was hilarious. I will check out ‘Mother’s Day’ and let you know about it. REPO! is the bomb F**ck the haters! Critics are just that. I never take them seriously.

    And you are absolutely right about R!TGO being polarizing. It’s a definite love/ hate thing in this situation. Absolutely no shades of gray for R!TGO….

  • Tobias Nettie

    Hey brother,

    Don’t sweat the critics, and by some of the examples you provided I use the term loosely.

    Remember when we got kicked out of that movie LONG ago? That Darren would be stoked if someone had told him where he would be in 15 years.

    You’re doing the damn thing and that’s all that matters. Proud of you.