RADiUS-TWC, the young label from The Weinstein Company, made its mark very quickly as a studio designed to release features across multiple platforms, specializing in Video On Demand. With notable features including Keanu Reeves' Man of Tai Chi and the more recent Snowpiercer by Bong Joon Ho under their belt, RADiUS-TWC is growing quickly and took advantage of Comic-Con International this year to get a head start on promoting two upcoming features. And it was a smart move, because both are worthy of attention.
In their first ever Comic-Con panel on Friday, July 25, 2014, RADiUS-TWC had a simple gameplan - to showcase two edgy genre films, each quarterbacked by a Hollywood star playing an unusual character. These are Everly and Horns.
Everly is an action-thriller starring Salma Hayek as a captured slave holed up in an apartment and forced to violently fight her way through waves of assassins sent by a mob boss (who's actually her ex). On the panel were director Joe Lynch and Hayek and both were in good spirits and very passionate about the project. Very little on the marketing front has released for Everly so the presentation began with footage which set the tone for the entire RADiUS-TWC event.
The sequence began with Salma Hayek in an older urban studio apartment and she is told she's going to die that night in that very place. She comes out of a bathroom and shoots everyone in the room, in an over-the-top violent first-person, almost arcade shooter sequence. Two of the targets didn't die right away, one managing to put a bullet in her side before passing, while the other stays immobile on the couch, and continues serving as someone for Hayek's character to converse with.
That bullet wound however, had little to no effect on Everly and we then see waves of incoming armed henchmen and wacky assassin characters. Hayek needs to take them all out. It's extreme, violent and intentionally humorous at points - especially with what happens to people getting hit by shotguns or how characters react to the extreme happenings. The sequences are raw, quick and funny and the panelists describe it as Die Hard in a room. Everly takes place in one room for 90 minutes. The camera never leaves the room. Phone conversations are all one-sided, views of other rooms are through bullet holes or windows.
Everly was also shot chronologically and so as Hayek's character becomes increasingly battle-worn so to does the room become torn apart through bullets, explosions and other madness. Hayek explains that "the set becomes a character" in a way, evolving as she does.
For 47-year-old Salma Hayek, this is her "most badass" character of her career and by far the most physically challenging - especially when using heavy guns and sometimes, multiple. She loves the project because, as she explains, there are not that many female lead action stars. This is a story of a mom separated from her daughter and her character "starts from a weak place and is very broken." She discovers herself throughout the film, and evolves from a slave to a "fierce, unstoppable force." The plot details were hard to come by in the limited, action-centric footage but we do know that Everly is attempting to get a bag of cash out of this apartment to her family but she can't leave. So, she must survive and have her family come to her.
Lynch had a lot of positive words to speak on RADiUS-TWC, expressing his love for how "TWC-Radius is making sure people see in the movies" through their multi-platform strategy. He also tells fans that Everly is meant to be a communal experience. Watch it with a crowd.
"Screw the Ninja Turtles," says Joe Lynch about Hayek using a sai in one particularly extreme action sequence in Everly.
For RADiUS-TWC's second presentation, it begins with the world premiere of U.S. Trailer for Horns which seemingly and chronologically teases a modern origin story of a devil or person possessed by the devil. Radcliffe's character Ig Perrish is accused of being responsible for the disappearance of his girlfriend Merrin Williams, and as the press and community hold him accountable, we're told through exposition that the "devil now has a hold of him" and he wakes up with horns beginning to literally grow from his temples.
At first, Ig is trying to hide it (wearing a hood, etc.) but he soon realizes that everyone in town reacts to him in strange, dark and twisted ways. It's mysterious and and all of his confrontations become increasingly weird and funny, especially as we see the character begin to embrace his new-found evil power.
The trailer showcases what may end up being Radcliffe's most dynamic performance yet, and the crowd laughs during a scene when Ig, his character, becomes fed up and tells a group of reporters that they can fight each other and the winner will get an exclusive interview. One man with a microphone immediately punches a female reporter in the face. Watch the full trailer here:
The trailer wrapped up and then panel began. Celebrating his 25th birthday two days earlier, Daniel Radcliffe made his first ever appearance at San Diego Comic-Con. He says he feels strangely empowered while wearing the horns on set and that the makeup team were able to put them on in just 20 minutes. Director Alexandre Aja also were on stage with the novel's writer Joe Hill. Horns is based off Hill's novel of the same name and he's closely involved with the production. Joe Hill humorously describes the genre of Horns as a 'Trajecomhorredy."
After a brief Q&A where Daniel, very well-spoken and passionate, expertly fielded questions from the moderator and fans we got to see a little slice of the movie. The clip from the movie (Edited for TV. Joe Hill says "100% less swinging dick then you'd see in the movies") picked up from the scene where Ig sets the group of reporters against each other then he goes into a bar (the Chieftan Pub) to grab a drink and learn what he can from the locals about what happened to his girlfriend.
Ig's strange powers result in the bartender admitting to running a dog fighting ring and following the revelation up by explaining that he wants to burn the bar down for insurance money, while another character admits to wanting to "kill something." Just as another bar regular tells Ig about the last time he saw the girl, the barkeep lights a fire on the bar and throws a makeshift molotov cocktail. The place erupts in flames.
In slow-motion, Radcliffe's Ig, in his trademark red-colored outfit and jacket, struts out the front door through a pillar of smoke and heads to his car, passing by the reporters still piled up, beating each other to death. It's very stylistic and funny. The character leaves an after aftermath in his wake and he's on a mission. It was a crowd-pleaser and after it played there was more Q&A. Hill talks about including every Devil joke he could imagine into the book. He even drives a Gremlin simply because of the joke.
RADiUS-TWC was smart to bring these two unknowns to the packed Hall H at SDCC, a crowd that no doubt held more anticipation for the Twentieth Century Fox panel afterwards which featured four films including Kingsman: The Secret Service. After seeing both, the footage, panels and potential ended up being more exciting for RADiUS than anything else Hollywood had to show that day.
Daniel Radcliffe and the Horns novel may be familiar, but this panel was an important step before marketing Horns to the world. This is a movie that when moviegoers see a trailer up above, they're very much want to see more. And it's the same for Everly which gives Salma Hayek a somewhat unexpected lead role. Horns and Everly unapologetically embrace what they are and that makes uniquely exciting.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.
Everly doesn't have a theatrical release date yet. Horns opens October 31 2014.