Water Tree Media Inc / Ditch Movie Partners LLC
Director: Joe Hendrick
Writers: Daniel P. Coughlin, Ryan Coughlin
Starring: Bill Oberst, Jr., Katy Foley, Zach Silverman, Lynn Lowry
Review by Jed Bundy
Jenny chose the wrong day to "ditch" school ...
As the title and promotional poster suggest, Ditch pays homage to the teen slasher films of the 80s. Being a fan of the genre, I was immediately drawn to this film due to the word "massacre" in the title. In addition to being an avid watcher of slasher flicks, I generally enjoy the work of actor Bill Oberst, Jr., who plays the killer (Vick) in Ditch. While Ditch makes an attempt to be something more than a typical teen slasher, most viewers will likely remember the gratuitous nudity, sex scenes, underage drinking, and graphic violence, rather than the religious and political messages embedded in the film.
This is the setup ... film opens with teens partying at a residence in a typical suburban neighborhood, the camera quickly turns to one particular girl leaving the party, Jenny, played by Katy Foley, obviously intoxicated and getting in her car to presumably drive home. As she drives home, Jenny, while drunk, decides to text someone. This turns out to be a deadly combination for the family she crashes into. The audience is given a brief and distorted view of the scene of the accident. We see the father, Vick (Oberst) on the ground bleeding but breathing, leading us to believe that he will survive. His wife and daughter were not so lucky, as a flash of a newspaper headline describes the event as a hit and run with local police having no leads in the case.
Fast forward one year ... our main character, Jenny, has been really good this past year. No parties, no drinking, it seems as though she has learned her lesson, or perhaps not. Parents go away for the night, leaving Jenny, alone with boyfriend Mike, played by Zach Silverman. Jenny is quickly convinced to skip school and throw a small party, which will predictably include drinking alcohol, smoking a little weed and having lots of sex. As fans of the genre, we know what happens to teens that behave like this, right? Ditch succeeds as a nice throwback to the formulaic slashers of the 80s. Gratuitous nudity provides plenty of eye candy and the creative kills offer gore fans something to sink their teeth into as well.
A little about the killer ... Vick, while on the ground at the crash scene, the camera pans over to his watch, a cracked face, hands stopped, a moment frozen in time. Ditch serves as a revenge flick as well. It is at this moment we are given the motive for Vick's retaliation.
One year later, as Jenny is making plans to ditch school, Vick is making plans of his own. He is obviously scarred from the loss of his wife and daughter. It is made clear that he has made a transition from devoted father and religious man to a man filled with rage and vengeance. He is physically working out as if he is training for the big fight. He is methodically gathering his belongings and studying them with great contemplation. We see a man completely broken and changed from a preventable event. As the camera follows Vick out to his car, his weapons of choice are made, mallet or hammer, an axe, and a bag of apples. As Vick starts the car and prepares for his day, we hear the radio DJ identify the station as 91.1 K ... I ... L ... L. This is a subtle clue that the massacre is about to begin. If the blood and guts don't gross you out, then maybe the revolting way the killer eats apples will!
Final thoughts ... Ditch is a solid effort in the horror genre. It contains all of the necessary elements to entertain horror fans. With standout performances by Bill Oberst, Jr. and Brad Potts as Mann, the main detective in the film, Ditch easily defines itself as a revenge and/or slasher movie with substance.
Leaked scene: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pe1frk84WJA
(Many thanks to Megan Waters for providing me with the screener.)
DITCH DAY FUN FACTS AND TRIVIA
(Provided by Producer Megan Waters)
Though there were no ghosts or paranormal activities called for in the script, the final shoot location, Vick’s layer was haunted by a real ghost named Charlene. According to the property owner “Charlene” is the reason he abandon living in the large villa. On the first location scout with the creative team, Producer Megan Waters called out to the spirits and asked for permission to film in peace with a promise to return the house back to its original state. That did not ease Charlene the ghost as props, car keys, tools, gear, wardrobe and set decorations would go missing and then re appear. On the final day, Charlene the ghost appeared to the producer as she was cleaning up. Charlene look directly at the producer and then to the house; then disappeared. It was a chilling moment.
All gore special f/x were mechanical and done in the lens. This was a goal and vision of the creative team. We all wanted to make it gush blood for real. Everyone on the cast and crew were covered in the red concoction and pig guts at one point or another. Even the set dog Leo (Orange fluffy 13 year old Chow), who liked to roll in puddles to cool off got past the hot set signs and rolled in fake blood! Leo got into so much he had to get fully shaved down. This was a dark day on set. The silver lining in his buzz cut revealed he had skin cancer and got treatment for it. They never would have found the cancer if he had not rolled in the blood.
Though “Vick” liked his axe. He also employed other killing tools to get the job done.
In a very complicated kill scene the original intended tool would not work so at the last moment the scene was extended and a few more famous lines were adlib to make room for a chain saw to finish the job. It was a gushing bloody finish to the scene and a big relief to the team.
The Ditch Party house is tucked away in quite Huntington Beach cul de sac. The house belongs to the writers’ cousin. We were so lucky to be given this shoot location. The team and cast both lived and filmed in the house. The local neighbors were very supportive of the project even when the fake blood came up the street drains and flowed for 3 blocks. The crew did respond quickly and mopped up the mess.
While shooting the fish tank scene the crew took bets on which fish would go for the bate first. No one bet on the crabs we all had our money on the eel. Lesson learned: Never underestimate the little guys. The crabs got is first on all three takes!
Most challenging role to cast: MAX
3 different actors were cast in this role
24 hours before principal photography the actor set to play Max dropped out. Gabriel De Santi originally cast to play “Bill” was approached about the role and accepted. De Santi got the humor of the role and really brought Max to life. The role of Bill was then cast and magnificently performed by Kyle Morris.
10 gallons of fake blood was mixed up on set. Husband and wife special F/X and make team, Josh and Serria Russell. Kept their blood mix master recipe a secret. Josh Russell is also a talent singer and songwriter. His song “An open letter to Taylor Swift” is featured in the film.
The role of Trina is played by a real Suicide Girl. Pandie Suicide
The film was shot in 16 days and 1 pick up day.
The final 4 days of production the full crew had to camp on a remote ranch property. To keep the crew fed a fridge was brought into the middle of the wilderness and plugged into the RV hook up. It was pretty funny to see a bright white fridge in the middle of the bushes. Cast and crew both posed with the appliance to commemorate the experience.
None of the actors in the beer chugging scene had ever shot gunned a beer. The punctured beer cans sprayed everywhere and the cast busted up laughing. The take was use because it’s authentic that these kids probably would not have known how to shot gun beer.