Jason Blum said something really dumb last week when he was quoted in Polygon saying, “There are not a lot of female directors period and even less who are inclined to do horror.” His comments sparked many major media publications (ourselves included) to publish lists of not just female directors, but female horror directors, that are deserving of the type of prestige and clout that comes with working for a major studio like Blumhouse. And what name appears in practically every single one of these articles? Ana Lily Amirpour, whose next film, Blood Moon, just landed one hell of a cast.
Deadline reports that Amirpour, the acclaimed director of Iranian neo-Western vampire flick A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, is setting the bar high with the cast for her next feature. Kate Hudson and Craig Robinsonwill star in Blood Moon, which is being produced by Academy Award winner John Lesher (Birdman). While it’s not set in stone, Zac Efron is also in talks to join the already lauded cast.
Amirpour, known for bending genres in her films, which includes the sunbaked cannibal revenge tale The Bad Batch, doubles down even further into her aesthetic, setting Blood Moon “in the “hedonistic streets of New Orleans” as a woman with mysterious abilities escapes from a mental asylum. Taking inspiration from fantasy-adventure movies from the ’80s and ’90s, the film will contrast Amirpours poetic use of violence with humor and a pulsating soundtrack ranging from metal to Italian electronica.
Kate Hudson is best known as a rom-com queen, typically playing the foil to burnt out Texans like Matthew McConaughey and Owen and Luke Wilson. But this isn’t her first foray into genre cinema. After dipping her toes in with the 2000 psychological thriller Gossip, her first true genre film was the 2005 slice of Southern Gothic voodoo The Skeleton Key, followed another five years later by the psycho-thriller The Killer Inside Me. Will Hudson play the girl who escapes the mental asylum in Blood Moon? Only time will tell, but with the perspective of Amirpour, the film will give Hudson an opportunity to be a part of a genre story finally from a female perspective.
Tuneful funnyman Craig Robinson is a little more familiar with genre-fare, having had feature roles in everything from Hyung-rae Shim’s Dragon Wars: D-War, to This Is The End, Tragedy Girls, Ghosted, and most recently Jim Hosking’s An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn. Efron, in contrast, is also known for more benign comedy roles, but he seems to be intentionally making a pivot beginning with the upcoming Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, in which he’s playing notably handsome serial killer Ted Bundy. As with Hudson, we’re not sure what to expect from Efron and Robinson, but if we look at Amirpour’s previous film, The Bad Batch, we may get some clues as to how she uses her more recognizable faces. And that’s by letting them become unrecognizable.
When The Bad Batch was first announced, all eyes were on the fact that Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey would have roles in this sun-kissed cannibal tale from a director in her sophomore effort. Rather than expanding the roles of Reeves and Carrey to match their caliber and popularity, she instead cast against their types. But she did it in such a way that it built off of what they are best known for. Carrey may have been unrecognizable as a scruffy mute pushing a shopping cart across the apocalyptic desert, but by having him play mute it required Carrey to dig into his well of expressiveness that made him such a skilled physical comedian. Reeves, known best for his reserved and pulsating action roles, got to broaden his monotone droll as a polygamist cult leader, chewing whatever scenery was available and reminding us of his broader roots. Amirpour offers her cast the chance to not only do what is unexpected of them but also the freedom to break from their perceived type.
But it’s the fact that Amirpour gets to make another film that is the most exciting news of all. Because, as evident in Jason Blum’s asinine response (which he did apologize for), it’s still hard out there for female filmmakers, no matter how many strides they’ve taken in the last decade. What audiences need to ultimately understand is that while experience and talent are important when helming a feature film, it’s really fresh perspectives that our cinemas need. Perspective doesn’t come from what you’ve done, but rather who you are. And in an industry that’s historically been dominated by straight white male voices, it’s not too difficult to see what perspectives finally deserve the long overdue recognition.