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An Interview with the Butcher Brothers

Butcher Brothers: "It's a continuation of the story with the family trying to find their place in the world".

The Butcher Brothers
Interview conducted by John Townsend
2 January 2013

The Thompsons is the new production from reknowned independent horror filmmakers The Butcher Brothers. It arrives here in the UK on both DVD and Blu-ray this week and I recently caught up with them to discuss their new vampire related follow-up to 2006's indie horror hit 'The Hamiltons'.

The Thompsons is the new film. Whatís the story?
Well this is a sequel to The Hamiltons. Itís a continuation of the story with the family trying to find their place in the world. Theyíre bloodsuckers and theyíve accepted this but they get into a bit of trouble in the states and head to England where they find more of their kind. In The Hamiltons it felt like they were alone in their world and we purposefully kept it that way but now we wanted to open it up to a bigger world, and not all vampires are what they seem.

The roles of the main characters have changed somewhat in that theyíre not the worst element in the film this time. Was it difficult to write more sympathetic roles for them as, ultimately theyíre more grown up now and they are killers?
Yeah, with The Hamiltons we told the story through Francis so we had a coming of age film as he came to grips with what he was and how to express it. With The Thompsons theyíve had much more time with who they are and are more comfortable now. Francis accepts it and through the film itís his journey of how comfortable he is being a monster. I mean in the 6 years the actors themselves have grown and with having Coey (Knauf, who plays Francis) onboard as a writer it helped develop how he and the other characters have changed.

Butcher Brothers: "When England came calling we kind of wanted to address where they came from and how they evolved".

When you started writing then did you set out to bring the story to England or did it organically develop along those lines?
It kind of organically developed I guess. We actually felt like we wanted to leave The Hamiltons alone so when the producers came to us and suggested a sequel none of the stories we had were grabbing us. Then someone came to us with the idea of going to England and that turned out to be the bridge as to how to take it forward and really sparked the creativity and what we could do with the world out there. It all kind of came together at that point. We didnít want to just rush in and just shoot another film when we werenít sure.

So when you were making The Hamiltons you never had a sequel or a series in mind?
Not really. We liked the story and the characters and people always asked if we were going to make a sequel. I think people like the idea of villains being the heroes and how different vampires could be, even though we never really called them vampires in the film, we just said they needed to kill in order to survive. For us we just loved the characters and a sequel wasnít the first thing that came to mind but when England came calling we kind of wanted to address where they came from and how they evolved. We even thought at one point while making The Thompsons that a television series based on it was an option as itís really a human story, with people trying to understand who they are and where they came from.

Youíve broken a lot of perceived traditional vampire conventions in your films. Was that a conscious decision at the start?
People are so used to the laws that we wanted to strip the Hollywood vampire myths away, you know, stuff like they canít walk in the daytime and they donít like garlic. Ours are basically like humans that just happen to be monsters. Once you create their background like how theyíre raised and how they did things then it gives you more scope. With The Thompsons as the story grew we have to answer more questions but with the current vampire craze we wanted to stick with that, keep to how our world works.

You made The Hamiltons before the Twilight juggernaut rolled in and youíve made The Thompsons in the wake of the success of those films. Do you think that there is a wider market for vampire films now or is it more difficult to make a more adult, darker film'
The whole vampire market is now wider and much bigger and with that people understand vampires more and are more aware of what you can and cannot do. We were more interested what it would be like to survive on a daily level knowing you had to kill people and hide it from your neighbours.

Butcher Brothers: "I guess we always try to channel the maverick filmmakers".

Watching your films there seem to be hints of Cronenberg and Lynch in that there are character driven and not just using gore for goreís sake. Would that be fair and who else has had an influence over your style?
Well we wanted to make an acting story and that was how the directors we grew up on worked. We both enjoy that kind of 70ís and 80ís horror films that had real story like The Shining and so on. The story came first. We wanted to bring that back with the characters being humanized. I guess we always try to channel the maverick filmmakers.

Having said that then how does it work having the two directors on set?
We are different people but we grew up together and decided to call ourselves The Butcher Brothers. Itís great because itís like having a second pair of eyes on set. Means we can make sure we donít miss anything.

Well I guess I have to ask what would be your favourite horror films?
There are many but a couple would be The Shining and Blue Velvet. Personally I really like Angel Heart which is more of a thriller but has a bit of horror in there. Youíre okay with a couple more questions if you like.

Given the amount of remakes around at the moment, as independent filmmakers how healthy do you think the horror genre is?
Well horror is a really strong genre, young people love it, old people love it, and it translates into any language. Thereís an awful lot of stuff out there with bigger studios playing safe with the franchises and smaller studios taking a chance. I guess at the end of the day a good movie is a good movie. The Thompsons is a sequel so in reality thatís part of a franchise too now but that wasnít the intention. We have a thriller coming out and another horror coming out called Raised By Wolves about a bunch of skateboarders. All around filmmaking is good but horror is more prevalent, more a pop culture and people can relate to it but I guess the question is where do we go from here. We like to put our own spin on it and try and do something that hasnít been done before; we have a thriller coming out and another horror called Raised By Wolves about a bunch of skateboarders. And now with The Walking Dead and True Blood itís exciting out there. We like to think ahead and see what we can do next.

"Thank you ever so much for taking part in this interview The.
And we wish you the very best of luck in the future."

'The Thompsons' is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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