Director William Brent Bell and writer Matthew Peterman defied all expectations when their new film, "The Devil Inside," broke January box-office records. The horror movie grossed $35 million domestically in its opening weekend for Paramount.
Since the film's surprise success and subsequent controversy, Bell and Peterman have found themselves at the center of a lot of talk around Hollywood. The writer/director duo took time to speak with MTV News about the film, the audience reaction and the controversial ending.
MTV: What has your week been like since the release?
Matthew Peterman: It's really exciting. It's just exciting for the movie business that it reinvigorated the marketplace a little bit, so it's nice to be a part of that to some degree.
MTV: What were your expectations going into the release?
Bell: When we made the film, we made it completely independently and outside the studio system. It was me, Matt [and] our producing partner Morris Paulson, who independently financed the film. We went off to Europe and shot the movie, came back here with it and just worked on it for about a year. We brought on Steven Schneider and Lorenzo di Bonaventura. We worked on it with them for a while and then presented it to Paramount. We had been working on the film since its first inception, over five years at that point, but a year and a half of actually shooting and editing and all the good stuff.
Peterman: I think our expectations were to make the best film we could. Hopefully, everything else would just take care of itself. We didn't have an idea that it would do anything like this. There were no expectations for that.
MTV: What do you think of the audience reaction?
Peterman: I think, more than anything, we're just excited that people are talking about the movie. We know it's a polarized audience. That's kind of the cool thing that movies do, because we took a lot of chances. We kind of see it in the way people are talking about it.
Bell: We're just excited people are talking about it. We're excited there are a lot of people who do like the movie. It is very interesting and cool to have a polarizing movie out there that people can get into the heat of discussion about. That's actually interesting. The more people are interested, the better it is for the film.
Peterman: It's a lot better, man, than just putting a movie out there that's just forgotten. We have our fair share of fans. We have our fair share of naysayers. It's cool to see people getting into healthy discussion about a film.
MTV: How different was your experience this time compared to your first film, the video game-themed horror movie "Stay Alive"?
Bell: It was 180 degrees different. It kind of started off the same, but it very quickly changed. The budget was 10 times this, depending on how you look at it. We did it kind of independently but not really, because it had such a big budget. We shot in America with a huge union crew. It was a much more standard Hollywood kind of experience and one I didn't enjoy very much.
Peterman: There were huge companies involved in that film. "The Devil Inside" was a completely independent project in every sense of the word. We enjoyed "Devil Inside" much better.
Bell: It was released by a studio that really didn't understand those types of films. You know the typical story where you destroy the movie in editing and you turn it from an R-rated film to a PG-13 film, and the result is something really unsatisfying. This time, we got to do what we wanted to do, pretty much.
MTV: What are you going to take away from "The Devil Inside"?
Bell: We really love this. You can call it "found footage." You can call it "mock-doc" or "faux-doc" or whatever, depending on how you tell the story. We love this whole space, because you can work with really talented people and aren't beholden to a great deal of money and take more chances. There are only so many stories you can tell, so to be able to tell a story in a unique way, this kind of documentary style allows us to do that. We certainly want to continue down that path. It gives audiences something different.
Peterman: It allows you to do unconventional things. We did those on "The Devil Inside" for sure.
MTV: Is horror a genre you want to stay in?
Bell: I think it will be for a while. We've written a lot of projects that we've set up at different studios that kind of span different genres. We have a project now that's more of a straightforward thriller. It's in the pipeline. Certainly the next project and maybe the next two projects will stay in that space. We have a really exciting horror project that we hope to be shooting really soon. It's a real departure from this one, but then again, there are also some similarities, the techniques we're using.
MTV: The film's ending frustrated many moviegoers. What were your thoughts on the URL at the end of the film?
Bell: That was something different. When that idea came up, we thought that could fit. It's a very interactive concept.
Check out everything we've got on "The Devil Inside."
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