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Feature: director Brian Gilbert

The Gathering

Christina Ricci and Ioan Gruffud in The Gathering

We meet the director of the new British Horror film starring Christina Ricci and Ioan Gruffud

An American tourist attending the Glastonbury Music Festival suffers amnesia when hit by a car and, after accepting help and accommodation from the distraught driver, starts hallucinating that terrifying strangers are following her. Is it concussion or second sight? And what do her frightening visions have to do with an ancient church unearthed in the quiet rural village of Ashby Wake?

All those questions are answered with shocking twists and turns along the way in The Gathering, a contemporary supernatural thriller, which recently wrapped at Elstree Studios after location shooting on the Isle of Man. Starring Christina Ricci, Ioan (Hornblower) Gruffud, Stephen Dillane and Kerry Fox, the $17 million Samuelson Production is directed by Brian Gilbert and it's the first Horror Fantasy that the director of Wilde has tackled.

On the atmospheric sunken church set at Elstree, Gilbert talked about directing this original screenplay by Anthony Horovitz whose many credits include the BBC TV series Murder in Mind.

"The Gathering is definitely a genre movie but quite what type of genre is hard to put a finger on" said Gilbert. "What really sold me on it was that it was a British Horror film in the same way that The Omen and The Wicker Man were. By that I mean it wasn't just about green smoke or bats flying about but was strongly rooted in ideas about Britain's past, old religions and Christianity. All the best Horror films have a strong foreground story with interesting themes and ideas subversively woven in. And that's why I found The Gathering so effective as it was ripe for undermining its beautifully constructed surface with a sense of darkness and unexplained forces at work."

He added, "Look, I'm no expert in this field and that's why I thought it would be a challenging departure for me. But films revolving around the believably supernatural tend to haunt audiences more than most. The Innocents and Don't Look Now are perfect examples of what I mean. Britain has a long tradition of scary movie-making yet we seem to have lost the plot a bit in recent years. Could I make a genre movie as good as all the ones I've mentioned? Or even one that approached classic Alfred Hitchcock? That's what intrigued me about The Gathering as much as having a go at a genre that I've never tackled before."

Instrumental in getting The Gathering before the cameras was Christina Ricci's unshakeable desire to make it happen. Gilbert explained, "Christina was essential to the financing. She became attached to the project early in its development and she stuck by it. It was her attachment that also made it more of a quality challenge for me..."

Gilbert thinks Ricci is exactly right for the role of the enigmatic Cassie because, "She has a remarkable star quality that can readily draw an audience into more arcane subject matter and make it believable. What she has always brought to all her oddball films, like The Opposite of Sex, is a tremendous sense of reality. There's a mystery about her that other actresses wouldn't sit so easily with or use to their absolute advantage. You can't analyse it. It's just her innate talent and star quality. We are all very lucky she felt so strongly about making The Gathering."

by Alan Jones

Get the full interview and more pictures
when you buy Shivers #95.

Images © Samuelson Productions / Fine Line / Granada
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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Shivers #95
Feb / March 2002
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