The world of horror is a strange place at the moment. With video rental limited to $1 a day services like Redbox and most audiences taking solace in inexpensive streaming services, most existing horror properties are either opting for glossy, repetitive remakes or the increasingly competitive world of horror television. Meanwhile, so-called horror fans have taken to the internet to bemoan the onslaught of found footage films and sequels/remakes/reboots in the theater, only to ignore the myriad excellent independent horror films available on iTunes, Amazon and Vudu at any given time (and that’s if they choose not to illegally pirate the film elsewhere). So for anyone to claim they know the future for horror film distribution is speculative, at best.
However, with the arrival of Dave Yarovesky’s independent horror offering THE HIVE, there appears to be an option for low-budget horror that appears to be surprisingly viable. While the distributor, Nerdist Industries (their second release after the D&D dark comedy ZERO CHARISMA) doesn’t have the Hollywood P&A to bring the film to 3,000 theaters, they are posing a chance for horror fans to catch THE HIVE theatrically, and likely in a theater near them as THE HIVE makes its theatrical debut via FATHOM Events tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST in over 500 participating theaters.
By proceeding this one-night-only event with a standard VOD release later this fall, Nerdist is giving fright fans a chance to see the film on the big screen without the cost of four-walling it in select theaters in major cities or relying on fans to find it on VOD. It’s a bold, new strategy, but with FATHOM Events selling out crowds for Rifftrax Events, live concerts and more, it offers a healthy alternative to the dismal, soul-sucking distribution models that many fantastic fright films resign themselves to. In advance of the FATHOM Events screening, FANGORIA caught up with THE HIVE mastermind Dave Yarovesky to talk THE HIVE, horror distribution and bringing his stylish part-outbreak, part-zombie tale to life…
FANGORIA: So how did THE HIVE first come about?
DAVE YAROVESKY: Well, the film first played at Fantastic Fest last year, and Quint from Ain’t It Cool saw it and called it, “EVIL DEAD meets MEMENTO.” That, to me, is the perfect description of the movie people are going to watch, but the funny thing is that, upon its conception, the film was really inspired by THEY LIVE. Even spiritually, both films felt like they were on the same wavelength because THEY LIVE was about slavery in consumerism, and THE HIVE was originally intended to talk about slavery in social media.
FANGORIA: That’s a bit ironic in the sense that if there’s any distributor that knows their fanbase and social media, it would be Nerdist. How did Nerdist become involved as a distributor?
YAROVESKY: Nerdist approached us immediately after our screening at Fantastic Fest. It was like 10 seconds after we got out of the theater, and someone from Nerdist was there who said, “I really liked the movie. We should talk.” And I was just giddy because I really wanted a distributor who would embrace the nature of the movie, and the ideas they brought were just such a cool way to do it. I’m such a big fan of the Nerdist guys, and I’ve always been a fan of Chris [Hardwick]. I’m excited that THE HIVE is going to be their first theatrical release.
FANGORIA: THE HIVE has a real sense of purpose behind the music in the project. You recruited Steve Aoki for the soundtrack and it really resonates throughout the film. Was that always the intention with the film or was that more-or-less a post-production decision?
YAROVESKY: I always knew that for this movie to work, music was going to be so important, and what he had was amazing. We partnered with Steve Aoki, who had a really interesting fascination with time science and unless you knew him, you’d be surprised to see it. Obviously, I am too, as I made THE HIVE, so we were already somewhat on the same wavelength.
It was great to work with Steve, and I’m also friends with Jimmy Urine from Mindless Self Indulgence. When we were making the moive, at one point I was like, “Crap. We need to have a children’s song. We need a creepy children’s song.” So I asked Jimmy what he would do for a creepy children’s song, and he wrote something crazy and really awesome. I’m so proud of the score by Anthony Willis as well, and when you hear it, it’s so beautiful and hopping.
FANGORIA: THE HIVE even has a very powerful visual style; certainly, the film is much more colorful or stylistic than your run-of-the-mill zombie movie. What influenced your decision to do something more against the grain rather than something more direct and familiar to audiences?
YAROVESKY: Man, I definitely took the path less taken and all I can say is that I’m really ambitious, I knew what I had wanted to make and people told me I was crazy. We made the film on the budget of most found footage films but THE HIVE is cinematic and highly visual. When people read the script, they told me we’d never get the chance to do this but because I’ve done music videos and I have a team that I work with whom I’ve developed a shorthand with who can really make the movie pop. All I needed was someone to say, “Okay, fine, do it,” and I’d be able to do it.
THE HIVE is definitely a film that’s out of time; it’s not in the pocket of contemporary indie horror like THE BABADOOK or IT FOLLOWS, which I love. They just aren’t the movies that I made, and THE HIVE is very different than other indie films.
FANGORIA: How did you get Gary Tunnicliffe to do the SFX? He’s a pretty big name for an independent film like this.
YAROVESKY: You wanna hear a true story? I believe when HELLRAISER III or BLOODLINES was coming out, I went to the FANGORIA Weekend of Horrors and waited in line for Gary Tunnicliffe’s autograph. Cut to nearly 20 years later and I end up working with him on THE HIVE, and I made sure to tell him that I met him at Weekend of Horrors. I remember talking to the line producer , who had worked with Gary before, and his name came up and I went, “Please? Please?! Can we?!” I met him and he was so cool; it was like meeting a legend and it was awesome to work with him.
FANGORIA: What was the most memorable aspect of the shoot?
YAROVESKY: The most memorable part of the shoot is something I’ve come to expect, which is that when I work on a project, I have a core crew that I work with and then I have new crew members who sign on and expect to work with a first time filmmaker making a horror film. My favorite moment on every shoot is when those new crew members realize they are working on something different and it’s not what they signed up for.
For example, we were shooting that scene in the trailer where stuff is spewing from Gabby’s mouth, and it’s all practical and shot in real time. I remember looking at those new crew members, and them going, “Oh my God! This is terrifying!” I really enjoy those moments.
FANGORIA: It must be exciting that THE HIVE is getting a theatrical bow, even if it’s not a traditional release plan. It’s an experimental release plan, but definitely one that many will be watching as it gives horror fans an opportunity to see indie scare fare outside of Netflix and VOD. What was your initial reaction to the release strategy?
YAROVESKY: Yes, and theatrical was always a part of the discussion that we were having with Nerdist. Nerdist spoke a lot about being trailblazers, but this is an opportunity to potentially carve out a path to not only horror filmmakers but independent filmmakers as well. How cool is it that instead of needing a huge budget to get your film out there that you can partner with FATHOM Events and set up a night where your movie can play in real theaters across the country?
It’s not like your film is in 2 theaters and you sit around crying because your per-screen average didn’t even make the charts. Instead, you screen for one night, go nuts promoting the film on social media and see what you can do. No one knows what’s going to happen, and these kinds of events virtually can’t be tracked, but I hope that this can prove to be a viable outlet for filmmakers in the future.
From its conception, I made a super visual, cinematic movie that is a big experience. It strives to have some scope to it, and THE HIVE is so ripe for a shared experience in a theater where people are jumping and screaming, like, “No, don’t do that!” I tried to craft something that people can really enjoy in the theater, and hopefully people will because we do live in a time where that is rare. Most horror movies don’t get to do that, and I feel so lucky that we’re even going to play in theaters, considering our humble beginnings.