Louisville, KY was once written up in Playboy as having one of the most prominent hardcore music scenes in the United States. But with THE BOX currently shooting in Louisville, the city’s independent artistry seems to be more focused on filmmaking—horror in particular. THE BOX, a J-horror-influenced indie with no relation to the in-development Richard Kelly/Eli Roth film of the same title, is one of several features to be shot in and around Louisville in the past few years—four of which have been horror-related.
Based on a disturbing urban legend still very much alive on-line, THE BOX centers on a dangerous wooden container, kept safe for years by a frightened old woman, which winds up in the hands of young antique dealer, Chris (co-writer Chris Albro). When nasty trouble starts a-brewin’, Chris refuses to believe the claims of his occult-obsessed sister that the box is responsible. But when Chris begins seeing things here and there, and his equally cynical father is made nearly catatonic by the box, like so many others (who don’t die outright from their encounters with it), Chris finally begins to believe in the item’s mysterious powers. Helping convince him is a bizarre figure which seems to appear and disappear at will within Chris’ house and antique shop since the box came into his life.
“It’s all about atmospheric scares—no blood, no guts,” director/co-writer Zach Schuyler tells Fango. Schuyler was just a friend of Albro’s until both took a more devoted interest in the camcorders they were using to tape their kids. In forming Schubro Productions, they realized how much fun it would be to make features in their off time with much more expensive video cameras. Though THE BOX’s budget is “under $100,000,” like many indie features, expect to see the final product of two guys who have truly put blood, sweat and tears into making the best-looking feature they possibly can. Together, Schuyler and Albro hand-made a “16-foot crane with tilting head and rotating monitor, a camera car mount for interior/exterior shooting, a 9-foot jib crane with dolly for interiors, two weighted camera stabilizers for steadicam shots, microphone booms with shock mounts, a heavy dolly and sectional track for moving shots, flicker boxes for fire and television effects, numerous dimmers with different wattages and a 4-foot sun diffuser with 8-foot stands.” Talk about DIY—these guys even did some of the film’s music.
Both Schuyler and Albro follow the BLAIR WITCH team of Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez’s philosophy of relying on “what scared us as children” to create THE BOX’s definitive shock moments. For Schuyler, believing that “someone was in the house with you when you’re alone, or something’s under the bed” or to “see something in the mirror” were among his top fears—all of which have worked their way into THE BOX. But it isn’t all mental trauma that Chris and his sister Dayna (Ember Marr) go through in the film; they also have to deal with strange wounds and lesions that appear all over their arms—at first. As the siblings continue to try and solve the mystery, the thing from the box continues to manifest itself into something very real and violent, until a final confrontation between it and Chris erupts into a dark scene with much agony…especially bone-cracking.
Those interested in the real story of the titular box can research its unnerving history at www.dibbukbox.com. Those interested in THE BOX can check out the official website here, where you’ll find cast and crew bios along with a trailer. With 85 percent of shooting done as of this writing, both Schuyler and Albro hope to get the film finished by September to hit the festival circuit. Let’s hope, in the meantime, that the real box is finally behaving itself.