Just the other day we brought you the exclusive debut of Wormface, the creature at the center of Padraig Reynold's indie horror movie Rites of Spring, starring AJ Bowen and Anessa Ramsey. As promised, we're back today to reveal the concept art that inspired the creature's design, as well as a little chat with the filmmakers as to how they brought him to life. But before we get to that, let's recap what Rites of Spring is all about:
A group of kidnappers abduct the daughter of a wealthy socialite and hide out in an abandoned school in the middle of the woods. But feelings of guilt soon overtake the kidnappers, dividing the group and putting their entire plan in jeopardy. The evening further spirals out of control when their poorly chosen hideout becomes a hunting ground for a mysterious creature that requires springtime ritualistic sacrifices.
And below the first piece of concept art/nightmare fuel that is Wormface huddled and wrapped in a corner, waiting for Spring, you can find our chat with director Padraig Reynolds, creature designer Aaron Sims, and makeup effects artist Toby Sells.
Movies.com: How do you decide how much to reveal and when?
Padraig Reynolds: It's based on the premise "less is more." The unknown is way scarier than the known. It is all about building tension but teasing the audience at the same time. I did not want to spell out everything for the audience; I wanted them to guess and use their imagination to help create this world. I have left some questions unanswered in this film intentionally. Some of these questions will be revealed in the sequel and some more questions will keep the audience intrigued.
Movies.com: Was there a specific philosophy toward crafting memorable creature moments?
Padraig Reynolds: I sat down with Aaron and told him the Wormface's backstory and where he came from. From that meeting we knew that Wormface was part human, has lived for decades underneath the barn and that the Stranger sacrifices people every spring to him for a good harvest. I always wanted Wormface to carry a weapon of the harvest so he carries an antique farm brush axe that he uses in various ways to kill his prey. I also wanted Wormface to be strong and powerful. In the later installment we learn the mystery of why he is part human, part creature. Since Wormface lives underneath the ground in a nest, we thought his clothes should be rags and other bits of clothing that he wraps around himself. Wormface is the biggest enigma of this story and I wanted to keep it that way. Giving clues like the Stranger's ominous warnings to the sacrificial victims while seeming tortured and regretful builds up the reveal and gives the creature more substance than just a bad guy running around and slashing people. You know there is something more going on here and these moments leave you wanting more Last thing you want is somebody getting bored with a character that is the backbone of the film.
Movies.com: When designing a creature, how much do you have to consider its fit in the story versus whether it's too similar to something that's been done before?
Aaron Sims: The most important thing when designing is how the creature will work within the story-film, that is where the idea starts, then its about how to make it unique.
Movies.com: What's the toughest part of the design process? How many iterations of the design do you go through before reaching the final?
Sims: The toughest part is how to design something we have never seen before. It can be two to 100 concepts, this always depends on the show and sometime the budget. Also, this can take more if the filmmakers have no idea what they want. Padraig had a really good idea what he wanted for Rites of Spring, so this only took a few concepts to get there.
Movies.com: Did anything have to change from the creature's design once it came time to bring it to life?
Toby Sells: Lots of things, actually. A big part of it did change when we physically started sculpting the creature. When you get a design, like the paintings, Photoshops, etc, they're usually semi-vague. Their main purpose is to give a feeling of, "This is the avenue we want to go down." The reason is, if you're doing a sculpture on an actor, you can only add to their physical features. You can't reduce the shape of his head or deepen his eye sockets, in terms of the three-dimensional sculpting of the creature. Unfortunately, because of that, unless you're doing a puppet, you don't always get 100% of the design.
Movies.com: How integral is wardrobe to the creature?
Sells: That's a two-sided question -- a lot has to do with the character, but also the fact we were on limited time/budget it's good that he had a wardrobe. We did a silicone mask and silicone gloves, so that cut down on our work from doing a body suit, which would have been more fun, but we didn't quite have the time or money to do something like that anyway. And another factor is, again, the character, who typically wanted to stay out of sight, and because of that that he was clothed. I think it added a little bit of mystery to that character.
Movies.com: What kind of makeup did you use?
Sells: We used a very flexible silicone called Eco-Flex for the mask. We didn't really use makeup, it was a silicone paint that I made. There was some makeup around the actor/stunt guy's eyes, which we used rubber mask facepaint. It's an old school product but we still use it today. We normally use alcohol-activated makeup, which you can't get close to the eye, so we used the rubber makeup. Everything that we did on the film -- like a decapitated torso, chopped off hands -- they were all silicone.
Rites of Spring is on VOD and in select theaters starting July 27, 2012.
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