The horror genre has seen plenty of movies set in summer camps and plenty of movies about mysterious substances that make people behave strangely, but director Dave Yarovesky has brought these two plot foundations together in The Hive, a horror movie about summer camp counsellors who find a mysterious substance that makes people strangely. Actually, "strangely" might be a bit of an understatement. Those who become infected start profusely vomiting black goo, talking in strange voices, and referring to themselves as "we" instead of "I".
At the center of this bad situation is Adam (Gabriel Basso), a teenager who wakes up inside a boarded-up room, covered in oozing sores and black bodily fluids, with no memory of who he is or what has happened to him. Fortunately, Adam's past self has left clues all around the room in the form of pictures and chalk messages urging him to remember his past. Gradually, over a series of flashbacks (not all of them featuring his own memories) Adam begins to piece together what happened and how he might get out of the room alive.
The Hive is the first feature film released under the banner of Chris Hardwick's digital media site The Nerdist, and was showcased at this year's San Diego Comic-Con. It's also the first feature film directed by Yarovesky, who comes from a background of making music videos and short films. Screen Rant got a chance to speak with Yarovesky on the weekend before The Hive's theatrical premiere, to discuss his inspiration for the film and the process of making it.
The Hive has a lot of flashbacks and flashforwards. Did the placement of these in the script move around much, or was it pretty fixed from the start?
When I first started working on the film I had... this sensation of understanding everything I was trying to achieve and all the moving parts and pieces. I scrambled to write it all down on a piece of paper, and I probably did it in an hour and a half. The basis of what you saw today... was totally on that piece of paper two years ago. I ended up writing eleven drafts, but the core structure remained intact.
I'd always pitched that... it was just going to be really different from other camp movies, and one of the things that would distinguish it from other camp movies would be that I was going to spend time with the characters and I was going to get really invested in the characters... You know, there's never going to be a scene where a guy and a girl go off to make out in the woods and something comes up and kills them. In a weird way it was going to be an anti-camp movie, or a re-imagining of what a camp movie could be.
My original conception of the film was like They Live, that was my earliest inspiration for the film... if They Live is about slavery in consumerism then I would say that The Hive is about slavery in social media and over-connectedness... My other real big thing that really inspired me was BioShock Infinite...I got to the end of BioShock Infinite and I just felt like my brains were blown on the wall behind me. I just couldn't believe what I had just experienced. And the thing that struck me from BioShock Infinite was that they took the idea of multiple universes and tried to explore it to the furthest extent that they could possibly explore it. It inspired me to take the concept, the core central concept of [The Hive], and try to explore it to the furthest extent I could possibly explore it.
Do you think that The Hive's story is a real risk? Is social media eventually going to lead to everyone's brains being connected?
It's just a matter of time before our brains are connected. And I don't know how much time it is, I don't know if it's ten years or fifty years, I don't know if it's five years, but it really is just a matter of time until our brains are sharing information. How much they're going to share, how open it is, how that works, how the interface works - all those things are questions I couldn't possibly answer right now, but it is just a matter of time. So I think The Hive was a way of starting that conversation [about] the impact that will have on us all as people and how we'll found our own identity in that web... It's still a fun horror sci-fi film, but I was definitely very cognizant of the kind of ideas we were discussing.
Gabriel Basso has a key role in The Hive, he's in almost every scene. Did you cast him because you'd seen him in something else?
I did see him in Kings of Summer and Super 8, but I got really fortunate on this film because that is one of the benefits of independent filmmaking, especially at this scale, because I didn't have producers telling me, 'Hey man, you've got to cast your movie with a big name, your financing's cast-contingent.' I didn't have any of that stuff. It was like, 'Cast the best person you can possibly cast,' and that's exactly what I did... I got to pick all the people that I believed were the best for the role, the best actors that could really channel the characters that I wrote, and I didn't have to think about any other stuff.
The infected people in this movie are largely scary because of their appearance. Do you think that, even without all the black goo and the open sores, the idea of a hive mind is still scary?
I do think that sans the goo and their aesthetic, I still think that the lack of humanity that they have would still be horrific. In preparing for the film I read a book called We [by Yevgeny Zamyatin], it's an old Russian book... it's based on the idea of future people reflecting on themselves in really negative ways. It just paints a picture of how we lose our humanity.
We see a lot of that goo. What was it made out of?
We had so many different types, I couldn't even count for you off the top of my head [how many there were]... But I will say this, there was wall goo, there was mouth goo, there was skin goo, there was thick goo, there was clothing goo. There were so many different types of goo.
The Hive is premiering in 500 theaters across the U.S. at 7:30PM tonight, and will distributed digitally this fall.