Local Director takes his Horror Show on the Road

Bellarmine graduate Joshua Loren is slowly losing control as Xavier Paris.

Director Kristofer Rommel is a man who admittedly knows more than his share about a slow decent into madness, having landed on the often thankless ambition of independent filmmaking. And while Rommel must be doing a few things right, with two dozen plus shorts and features to his credit over the past two decades, his latest effort is a portrait of exactly that.

The tragedy before the terror.

A dramatic prequel to a forthcoming “thinking man’s horror” of the same name, “Wireface: In the Beginning” made its world premiere earlier in the spring at the 2012 Derby City Film Festival and continues its debut circuit this Saturday at Oklahoma’s 13th annual Bare Bones International Independent Film Festival. Contending for Best Drama Short, the narrative explores the tragic downfall of former soldier Xavier Paris (Josh Loren), as a scarred past and current family tragedy combine to push him ever closer to the brink of madness.

“What would you be capable of if you had everything taken from you?” asked Rommel.

Louisville-native filmmaking team Kristofer and Ashley Rommel are now very recent Seattle transplants, but “In the Beginning” is a top-to-bottom Kentucky-made nightmare. Shot in three total days of filming spread across five months, set locations include Louisville and Fisherville. The cast, which features Cindy Maples & Joe Chrysler, is likewise largely local or regional, while the overall tension of events on-screen is notably heightened by an impressively off-putting score by composer Matthew Head.

A self-decribed fan of old-school psychological horror, as opposed to today’s “mindless slasher fare”, Rommel revels in the unnerve of what’s implied rather than shown and set out with the goal of giving his characters believable motivations. Developed from an idea the director originally thought of as an eighth grader, “In the Beginning” therefore plays as a straightforward, albeit eery, drama and only hints at the terrors to come alongside some greater mysteries.

“There’s a surprising amount of horror done in Kentucky,” asserted Rommel, who explained that access to professional make-up and effects is therefore readily available.

Kristofer Rommel

In-content with just the short film, or even the planned full-length feature, which he describes as “The Ring” meets “Alien”, Rommel is constructing an entire world and mythos for his narrative to inhabit. Starting with a series of webisodes that predated the short film and established a fictitious public record of missing girls and murder, and continuing with a set of graphic novels drawn and colored by veterans David Faught and Chris Summers, the envisioned world of “Wireface” is already immense, and growing.

Included in Moviemakers Magazine’s list of top 20 independent film festivals, Rommel describes Bare Bones as a showcase of “true independent films” (everything produced for less than $1 million). And the director is uniquely qualified in his opinion, given that he and his wife Ashley co-founded their own Derby City Film Festival four years ago.

Whether it be in the Bluegrass or the Northwest, Kristofer Rommel and company are quick to point out the bevy of challenges before them, but nonetheless committed to a continued effort to bring bold, and sometimes unsettling, new visions to the screen.

Much more information on the “Wireface” phenomenon, including the aforementioned webisodes and additional backstory, can be found via the production’s website.

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Chris Ritter <<<< twitter.com/CT_Smash <<<< ctsmash@gmail.com