Heaven of Horror recently spoke with writer/director Berkley Brady about her new film, Dark Nature, which was released by Epic Pictures’ Dread label.
The Dark Nature synopsis: Joy, a survivor of domestic violence, joins her friend Carmen and her therapy group on an isolated weekend retreat in the Canadian Rockies. Led by the enigmatic Dr. Dunnley-whose methods are experimental and, at times, dubious from Joy’s outside perspective -the experience eventually shatters the border between reality and delusion. Joy begins to suspect that they are being stalked by her abuser when in truth, the entire group will be forced to confront a threat even more terrifying than the monsters of their past.
Dark Nature is now available on VOD. Read our review of Dark Nature here >
Not only did you direct the film, but you also wrote it. How long did the script take to write?
It took roughly a year and a half to write, and of course, we were making changes in production as needed.
What did pre-production look like on Dark Nature?
A lot of hiking! We went by foot to locations suggested by friends, and the stunt coordinator and I even climbed to the top of these ice caves just to check them out. We ended up shooting just below those, as it wouldn’t have been safe for the crew up there, as rocks can fall from above and take a filmmaker out. Here’s a pic of the view…essentially I’m on the mountain you see in the background in the movie.
How involved were you with the casting process? Actress Hannah Emily Anderson has been in a lot of horror titles including The Purge series, Jigsaw, and The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw. Did you see her in one of those projects and think she would be a good fit because of it?
I did! I saw that she had an enormous range and thought she would do a great job.
Dark Nature leans into practical effects when it comes to the creature in the woods. Was there ever a discussion about CGI?
Yes. Both my producer, Michael Peterson, and I both felt strongly about using practical effects as much as possible. I love practicals!
Do you have a favorite scene in the film? Why?
I think my favorite scene today is the one where they’re peeing in the woods. I love the comedy each Hannah and Madison bring to that scene, and we have much more footage there that we couldn’t use, but they really brought it and I love that.
Shooting in the woods, in caves, and at night can be very difficult. Can you talk about how cinematographer Jaryl Lim approached some of the more difficult shots?
Jaryl is my hero and an absolute genius. He’s so knowledgeable about lighting and his gear, and was able to craft just what we talked about – lights that made the film beautiful but which also had their own logic.
What do you think sets Dark Nature apart from other horror films?
Hopefully, we have made a film that is beautiful to watch, and scary, but that is also an ode to friendship and love.
Were there any scenes that were left on the cutting room floor? If so, can you discuss what those were?
There was a therapy scene that I wish I could put back in! The lighting was beautiful, and the scene involved all the characters looking at each other, not looking away, and allowing all the emotion they needed to come through there.
Dark Nature is your directorial debut. Did anything surprise you about the filmmaking process?
I’d worked on features before and enough shorts to know that production is tough. The hours are tough, the locations here made those hours all the more difficult. It really is a marathon. I think in the end, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the sound design process and working with our sound designers at Propellor Studios in Calgary. That was pure fun and also for horror, in particular, the sound is so important.
Are you personally a horror fan? If so, what are some of your favorites?
I’m a huge horror fan! Top loves are The Exorcist, the remake of Hills Have Eyes, High Tension, and of course, The Descent.