Interview: Jesse Thomas Cook Director of SEPTIC MAN
By Clarke Wolfe on August 17, 2014
This weekend, the cult-horror 2013 Fantastic Fest hit Septic Man, written by Pontypool‘s Tony Burgess and directed by Jesse Thomas Cook, is available on VOD from Starz Digital Media. We interviewed the director behind the grossest movie of the year about where the idea for Septic Man came from in the first place, the plight of the blue collar working man and if we’ll be seeing a sequel anytime soon.
A movie like Septic Man, graphic, gross and pretty thoughtful doesn’t just come out of nowhere. We asked director Jesse Thomas Cook how he got involved with this project in the first place. Cook revealed, “We were working with Tony Burgess, who is a writer up here in Canada, he did Pontypool, and we live in a very small town north of Toronto and he lives ten minutes up the road… we’d always wanted to work with him and so we were gearing up to do three films all in a row in this crazy, grueling production odyssey, we’re going to shoot them all back to back to back and I, at the time, was thinking about this idea of doing a chamber play, everything shot in one location kind of like Saw and Buried and the idea was about a guy trapped at the bottom of a well and two serial killers or villains up above him who are his only chance to get out but they cant really get at him and he cant really get to them so it becomes a battle of wits.”
Cook continued, “So when Tony came over, that’s how it started, just pitching Tony these ideas. So when he first came over to discuss this he actually clogged our toilet and this was the first time we were going to meet him so we all started joking about that so from there, we said, well, what if a guy is stuck in a septic tank, and sort of just mentioned this as a joke and then we started really exploring that as an idea and Tony later called it a gift for him as a writer.”
When you watch the movie, the make up and effects are all pretty gnarly but it appeared through all of the gross-out gags that there was a message there, about Septic Man, and how he’s just trying to do the best he can for his town and his family and being met with figurative and literal crap at every turn. Was that intentional? Cook explained, “We’d talked about that, definitely, in the development of the story. The plight of the blue collar worker who enters this existential crisis that he can never escape from. The fact that there’s two guys lording over him literally s****ing on him, there’s definitely a message in there I think about the plight of the working man but a lot of that is on Tony. I sort of approached the initial idea very straight forward, body horror film, claustrophobic, chamber play and Tony was able to draw on tons of literary underpinnings…”
In this day and age, most cult heroes are met with sequels and franchises. Have we seen the last of Septic Man? “I would never rule it out, it’s not something I’m currently developing,” Cook said. “I’m just excited to get the film out in north America and see everyone’s reactions… it might be something we go back to. I think the next film wouldn’t necessarily be in a septic tank the whole time. If you’ve seen the movie there’s potential for a wider story, I think. But I think that’s something we might aim to do in a few years but definitely not in the immediate future.”
Septic Man, starring Jason David Brown, Molly Dunsworth and Robert Maillet, written by Tony Burgess and directed by Jesse Thomas Cook, hit VOD today and theaters August 15 from Starz Digital Media.