CS Interview: Devon Sawa Talks New Horror Thriller Hunter Hunter
ComingSoon.net had the chance to speak with star Devon Sawa (Final Destination) about Shawn Linden’s new horror thriller Hunter Hunter, also starring Nick Stahl (Sin City) and Camille Sullivan (The Man in the High Castle). You can check out the interview below and order your copy of the movie here!
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Devon Sawa: How are you doing, man?
ComingSoon.net: I’m doing about as okay as we all can be right now.
CS: How about yourself?
Sawa: Well, yeah it’s been a long eight months of quarantining and just I’m about to do my first film since this whole thing happened in a couple of weeks if all goes well. I’m very super excited. I’m like, on lockdown so that I’m not the one that shuts the production down. Other than that, everything’s good. Everything’s golden.
CS: That’s awesome. What’s the movie that you’re getting ready for?
Sawa: It’s called Black Friday. That’s all I can really talk about so far.
CS: Okay, okay. I already like the title. So looking at Hunter Hunter, though, I mean, this is really quite the interesting tale. I had no idea what to expect going in, and I was really intrigued and I really dug it. What about the project really drew you to want to be a part of it?
Sawa: A couple of things. I mean, first of all, the script is great. It is what it is. It’s not trying to be anything that it’s not. It’s done for a smaller budget. It’s performance-driven, and the director is a very, very smart guy that I knew could pull off the whole twist and all of that. And I just loved how my character, what happens to my character and how it happens. And that’s really what kind of drew me to it.
CS: So then, what was it like for you getting to the heart of your character? Because I mean, he feels like a very complex yet quiet person at the same time.
Sawa: Yeah, it’s a lot different than who I am. I mean, this is a guy that lives out in the middle of nowhere. He kind of lives off the land. You know, hey, we did a lot of talking with the director. He’s kind of lived this life a little bit like he’s lived off the grid a little bit. Other than, you know, it was a huge change for me.
CS: What would you say then were some of your biggest creative challenges getting to the heart of your character?
Sawa: The biggest creative challenge is that this guy was a hunter. You know, he skins animals, he hunts things and that’s just not me. You know, I don’t disagree with hunting. I mean… I’ve never done it. I’ve always been a city guy. I’ve always been on locations, so I’ve never really dealt with that world. So some of the skinning, although we didn’t use real animals, there was a deer thing. Also, there was a beaver thing. But other than that, the effects guy was so good and we discussed in detail what actually happens and what you can’t do and how you can’t pierce the stomach. And so, that was kind of the stuff that I had to, you know, get over this is gross or this is, like get out of my comfort zone and kind of realize this guy has grown up with that. He’s done this all his life. He doesn’t flinch when it comes to this stuff. He’s teaching his daughter. He doesn’t look at his daughter like the typical father/daughter relationship. It’s kind of like you’ll go on to be the next hunter. This is what happens. And so, that was kind of the process and the most challenging of it all.
CS: So I mean, since you mentioned that Shawn kind of has the background of living off the grid, I mean, did you find that you did additional research for your role aside from conversations with him? Or did you rely a lot on his own expertise in the field?
Sawa: I relied all on his expertise. I just listened. I was a sponge. You know, he’s done it. He’s done a lot of this stuff. And so, we just discussed in detail why and how and what and that’s basically it. We didn’t have a lot of it. We shot this thing so quickly and we didn’t have a lot of time. Not to mention, we were hit with one of Winnipeg’s biggest storms of late September, early October and had to shut down. And I mean, it was cold out there. And yeah, there was a lot of listening, a lot of learning on location.
CS: What was it then like also building the rapport with Camille and Summer in such a fast-paced nature of a shoot?
Sawa: You just got to do it. I mean, we didn’t have the luxury of spending a week before, you know, rehearsing or whatnot. It was kind of like, you got off the plane, you went to wardrobe, you’re going to shoot the next day. Here’s your costar. By the way, you’ve been married for 15 years. Go do it. But Camille has been doing this for so long I think also, and she’s so talented and I mean, I was blown away. I didn’t get to see a lot of the stuff that she was shooting, you know, because it was on her own. But you know, I saw the film and she just, she blew me away with her chops. And I mean, she’s just such a talented actor. And then Summer’s an up and comer. So we just turned it on. You know, we just met. We realized and we would talk about our characters. We talked with Shawn and we just turned it on. And the elements in a movie like this really play into it. I mean, when the snow is going and you’re up early in the morning and you’re in those clothes and you’ve got those heavy backpacks, it all starts to feel, you know, authentic.
CS: Would you say that you were pretty outdoorsy prior to the production or did you have to become outdoorsy for the project?
Sawa: Well, luckily I grew up in Canada, so that I always had a little bit of outdoorsy in me and it was easy to get back into that. But I wouldn’t say that I am anymore. My wife wants to go camping all the time and I’m just not that guy anymore. But I definitely grew up in that outdoorsy Canadian feel, you know? We had that in our backyards.
CS: Were you familiar with the area that you shot in?
Sawa: No, we were in rural Winnipeg. I mean, we stayed in Winnipeg in the city and then we drove. Every day it was an hour in some direction, in some location. So I wasn’t at all familiar. But I mean, it’s obviously colder in Winnipeg than it is Vancouver, but it’s the same. It’s the same kind of feel, you know, that wet, cold, bone-chilling feel.
CS: So did you find that being in that location really helped you get into your character and the story even further?
Sawa: Yeah, 100 percent. If we had shot that same movie in Oregon, for instance, where it looks kind of the same, it probably would have the same feel. It was cold. I mean, it was getting to winter in Winnipeg and you don’t want to be outside in winter in Winnipeg. It’s like a whole different. Americans don’t really understand Canadian winters. It’s a little nutty.
CS: I’ve heard, I’ve heard.
Sawa: Yeah, and Winnipeg is the spot. If you want to feel a real solid—you know, people complain about Toronto and Montreal, but you want to feel a real solid Canadian winter, you go to Winnipeg.
CS: I’ll have to add that to the travel list. So being a father yourself, I mean, what did you find you were able to bring into your role as a father, as well as did you find that you learned anything from your character for your real life?
Sawa: You know, it’s funny because for the last year, I’ve just started, or the year before this whole pandemic hit, I’d just started getting the father roles, and it’s really weird. I don’t know. I mean, I think I’m a different father than the father I’m playing in, for instance, this movie. I’m a little bit more fun and my wife is a little bit more the disciplinarian, whereas this one, I’m the disciplinarian. I think it’s a whole different father than I am in real life, yeah. I don’t know. I’m more of a pushover in real life. Actually, I’m way more of a pushover in real life.
CS: That’s funny. So this film, I mean, it’s also getting a select theatrical release as well as the digital and the VOD. How are you feeling about the release plan for it?
Sawa: You know, at some point a few years ago, you start realizing, I did a movie called The Fanatic with John Travolta, and John Travolta, he’s old school. Some of his biggest films are the 70s, 80s, and 90s. And so, he’s got that theatrical just kind of like, in him. It’s got to be theatrical or it’s nothing. But I’m trying to crossover now because I don’t think theatrical is as important, especially during the pandemic. There’s something now about having a Netflix or a Hulu or any of these things is just as good as theatrical, unfortunately. And I mean, I love theatrical, but it’s just the way it is nowadays. So I’m fine with just blasting this thing into people’s living rooms the day it comes out. I mean, I think people are really jonesing for content right now. And so, I’m all for it, man. Get it in there. Let’s watch this.
CS: I couldn’t agree more. So I mean, obviously there’s the thrill element of the film. But I mean, do you feel there’s any deeper themes that you hope audiences can sort of take away from the story?
Sawa: God, I don’t know how to explain it. It’s a good old fashioned psychological thriller. I wish I could talk about it more, but one of the main things that drew me to the script is one of the things that happens to my character that I can’t talk about because then I would just give it away. But it’s a smart psychological thriller. It leans more psychological thriller than it does horror. Obviously, it has a little bit of the horror feel. But it’s just a good time, man. It’s just a good time.
CS: Yeah, I definitely agree, because it’s hard for me not to spoil it for my readers as well.
Sawa: Yeah, I think the ending is going to blow people. When I read that script, I’m like, oh my god, that happened. But when you see it, when you see the ending, it’s just like, okay. That’s pretty awesome.
CS: Oh yeah. I had to rewind the ending because I was like, wait. Am I seeing this all correctly?
Sawa: Yeah, it’s pretty cool.
CS: So one of the cool things about this year at least was that we got to see a collector’s edition of Idle Hands come out. And so, I’m curious, what was that like for you, seeing that sort of collector’s edition come out and the big fan praise for it?
Sawa: You know, it was the first time that Elden, myself, Vivica Fox, and Seth Green sat in a room. We did the commentary for that for the first time in, I don’t know how many years. And we just had such a great time. We laughed and we also, we did this, I guess every year Seth and Elden have been doing it every year. I just didn’t think anything of it. I guess a bunch of people get together on a rooftop and they project it on a big screen. And I thought like five or six people, but there was a lot of people that showed up for it. And I went for the first time and I’m just so damn flattered that the movie has got legs and is still making people happy and somebody, a producer contacted me about potentially approaching Sony for a sequel. You never know. I’m flattered. I’m flattered that people still love it.
CS: And so, since there’s been such a better appraisal amongst fans and everything, and since you just mentioned approaching Sony about it, have you heard any kind of rumblings or possibilities for a follow-up?
Sawa: People have talked about it a lot. Nobody at Sony or Columbia or anything, but you never know. It’d be interesting to have a new cast kind of reboot it and somehow mix us in there somehow. Who knows? But it’s definitely a little cult classic.
CS: That’s for sure. That’s a great one at that and I am looking forward to Hunter Hunter also getting a good following as well because I think it’s quite the treat. Thank you so much, Devon, for taking the time to chat with me. I really appreciate it.
Sawa: Thank you for talking. Thank you for watching the film, man. I appreciate it.
RELATED: Hunter Hunter Trailer: Hunt or Be Hunted in IFC Horror-Thriller
Hunter Hunter follows a family living in the remote wilderness earning a living as fur trappers. Joseph Mersault, his wife Anne and their daughter Renée struggle to make ends meet and think their traps are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf. Determined to catch the predator in the act, Joseph leaves his family behind to track the wolf. Anne and Renée grow increasingly anxious during Joseph’s prolonged absence and struggle to survive without him. When they hear a strange noise outside their cabin, Anne hopes it is Joseph but instead finds a man named Lou, who has been severely injured and left for dead. The longer Lou stays and Joseph is away, the more paranoid Anne becomes, and the idea of a mysterious predator in the woods slowly becomes a threat much closer to home.
The cast for the film also includes Summer H. Howell (Cult of Chucky, Clouds), (Sin City, The Man Without a Face), Gabriel Daniels (The Ice Road, Goon, Fractured), and Lauren Cochrane (The Pinkertons, Tales From the Loop).
The film is written and directed by Shawn Linden (Nobody, The Good Lie, The Fixer) with Neil Elman producing the film alongside Linden while Fernando Szew, Tony Vassiliadis, Hannah Pilleer, Jennifer Westin, Peter Bevan, Mariana Sanjurio, and Tomás Yankelvich are all attached as executive producers.
Hunter Hunter is now in hit select theaters, digital platforms, and on video-on-demand.