Halloween special: Hollywood screenwriter Evan Spiliotopoulus, talks about his debut directorial venture — horror film The Unholy
The Unholy isn’t just a horror story, it also explores the subject of fake news
Evan Spiliotopoulos is the screenwriter behind popular Hollywood flicks such as Hercules, The Huntsman: Winter’s War, and Beauty and The Beast. He even co-wrote the Charlie’s Angels reboot in 2019. With such big films to his credit, it didn’t come as a surprise when Evan turned director with the horror film, The Unholy, which released earlier this year in the US, and premieres on Indian television this Halloween.
The movie, based on the 1983 novel Shrine by James Herbert, is the story of a disgraced journalist who discovers that people of a small town in New England have been encountering miracles. He visits the town hoping to find a story that could help resurrect his career. But when bizarre incidents start occurring, he realises that the source of these miracles is a dark force.
Talking about his first experience as director, Evan, on a Zoom call from Los Angles says, “I had the pleasure of being on the sets of many films that I had written. I had seen what the director goes through and I never wanted to experience that. But I was keen on adapting James Herbert’s book to the big screen. I was 13 when I read it, and it stayed with me. So when it became apparent that I will have to step up and make the movie myself, I did it.”
The Unholy isn’t just a horror story, it also explores the subject of fake news. The director says this was one of the reasons that drew him to the book. “I like movies that aren’t just about one thing, but that mould and shape different genres together. This book is a bold, classic supernatural thriller. Think The Exorcist married to journalism thrillers like Shattered Glass and Spotlight. Even though the book was written in 1983, the theme of fake news that it tackles, is still relevant today. I felt this was the perfect time to tell this story.”
Even though the movie was on the number one position for four weeks when it released in Mexico, it received mixed reactions online. Evan says all movies are subjective, and audiences have a right to express their opinions. But he also adds, “I would like to send a box of chocolates to everyone who likes the movie, but yes we did get mixed reviews. We shot the film during the pandemic. We started in February and within four weeks, we had to put everything on hold. We had to resurrect the entire movie set five months later and had to shoot with strict protocols in place. For people who say it could have been better, I want to see them direct a movie during a pandemic.”
While the plot of The Unholy drives the narrative, the characters are quite interesting and engaging, much like the other characters Evan has created for his earlier movies as a screenwriter. “It’s all about the characters. If the characters are interesting, it doesn’t matter what environment you place them in, the stories will be interesting,” he signs off.
October 31, 1 pm and 9 pm. On &Flix