”24” producer Tony Krantz is about to fulfill a dream he’s had since elementary school. As if shepherding one of Fox’s hottest shows during its inception, repping David Lynch for a spell and producing that director’s hypnotic Hollywood brain-bender MULHOLLAND DR. wasn’t enough, Krantz is about to embark on his directorial debut this summer. The film is the second in the Raw Feed terror triumvirate to be released by Warner Home Video, following the John Shiban-directed REST STOP.
The movie was originally entitled SUBLIME, but Krantz and co. felt this moniker didn’t accurately convey its true nature. “We’re calling it the ‘Untitled Hospital Movie’ right now,” Krantz tells Fango with a chuckle. “SUBLIME [as a title] was interesting. I like it because it’s ironic, because the movie is anything but sublime.” With that ominous preface, Krantz delves further into the film’s plot, penned by BAND OF BROTHERS’ Erik Jendreson. Unfortunately, Fango agrees to remain mum on those specifics for the time being, but in a nutshell, the film falls on the shoulders of George Greaves, a man whose ideal life crumbles apart through a succession of wicked experiences during a hospital stay.
“Everybody has a fear of medical complexes—the fear that you’ll get lost in it, you’ll get spit out by it, you’ll get forgotten and mistreated by it,” Krantz says. “There’s a kind of malady called iatrogenic illness. It’s a term I didn’t know about until we started doing this movie, and it’s a sickness that is caused by the hospital itself, through either malpractice or malfeasance or stupidity or some combination of the above. In this country, it is the single biggest killer of anything, more than heart disease or cancer. Some 780,000 people are killed a year through iatrogenic illness, and this idea is the basis of the movie.”
A tarnished health-care system—also explored recently in the icky J-horror ooze-fest INFECTION—can be enough to give the willies to those easily disturbed by the slightest of things, such as a routine checkup. But Krantz is pushing even more emotional buttons triggered by current events by layering his films’ subtext with a political bent that‘s sure to raise eyebrows. “The main character’s name, George Greaves, is a little bit of a play on words about George Bush in that we’re grieving for him a little bit. Greaves is 40, rich, successful, living in a beautiful home, at the top of his game as an IT consultant. It sounds crazy to say this, but underneath this picture on a certain level, he represents the U.S. as we turn into the new century, where you walk down the wrong corridor and you get your head handed to you by things beyond your control that are lurking out there in the shadows.
“For Greaves, everything he fears manifests itself throughout the movie in deeper and deeper ways,” Krantz continues. “With Bush, one might argue that we are looking for things to fear in the world, we’re behaving as if those things are fearful, and as a result of that they’re manifesting themselves as fear-provoking by virtue of the meaning we associate those things as having. There’s a subtle political message underneath this film that hopefully gives it resonance.”
Krantz also promises to deliver on more overt frights, citing Lynch’s BLUE VELVET and the shooting aesthetic of Mike Nichols’ early works as inspiration. Casting is currently underway, and the $5-million project will likely employ much of the same crew Shiban utilized on REST STOP, save for the cinematographer and production designer. At the moment, the first-time helmer is trying to woo Peter J. Hampton to fill the latter position.
Krantz says he has always wanted to direct, “but I was frankly going about it through the back door of this industry by producing lots of stuff. When Raw Feed came together, I said to one of the Warner execs, ‘I’ve wanted to do this forever, would you guys approve…’ and before I could finish my question they said, ‘Tony, we’d approve you in a minute to direct this thing.’ And it’s a dream come true. I’m having the time of my life, because it’s a pure, creative expression. I don’t know if it will work, but I think it will; it’s a very weird story. Hopefully, we’ll avoid any traps of it being anything other than dreamy and really riveting…and real—that’s one of the touchstones of Raw Feed.”