By Josh Taylor
There is a long lineage of all ages family Halloween movies, from The Monster Squad to Hocus Pocus. It’s honestly part of our specialty here at Creepy Kingdom. That’s why it was such an honor to sit down with director Jeff Wadlow to talk about his new Netflix original film The Curse of Bridge Hollow. The new Netflix family comedy features Marlon Wayans, Kelly Rowland, and Priah Ferguson as a family who’ve just moved to the Halloween-loving town of Bridge Hollow. Unfortunately for them, a curse brings the town to life in a way that’ll be sure to create a good mix of gags and frights. For Wadlow, both comedy and horror aren’t new genres to him. He’s directed films like Kick-Ass 2 and worked on TV shows like Bates Motel. He even recently directed and executive produced the reboot of Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark. We asked him how his past has helped in preparing him for this new family Halloween comedy. “This movie is just a giant genre mashup. We tried to invoke a lot of different genres. There are genuine scares, obviously suited for an all ages audience. It's not hardcore.” We received an early screening of the film and can confirm that there are some great scares within the film. He goes on to say, “There are genuine laughs, we hope. There's genuine emotion. Working in all these different genres over time has prepared me to work in a multi-genre film like this, and quite honestly, it is the space I prefer to work in.”
Hearing that Marlon Wayans was in the film conjures up an idea of his over-the-top humor from films like Scary Movie or White Chicks, but Wadlow had major praise for the actor as he turned in a more subtle style of comedy that suited his sweater wearing, science teacher and father figure character. Wadlow would state, “ It was definitely new for Marlon and I think it was exciting for that reason. At the end of the day the guy is an artist and he wants to push and grow and change. He had an amazing dramatic turn this past year in Respect, the Aretha Franklin movie, and there was nothing comedic about that performance. He's a real artist and he can do a lot of different things.” Marlon Wayans gets a chance to play off of a cast of great comedians and actors including Rob Riggle, Lauren Lapkus, John Michael Higgens, and slew of other talent, but he spends the most time on screen with Priah Ferguson who plays his daughter Sydney. Most people will be familiar with the young actress as Lucas’s younger sister Erica on the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. “We started talking about who was gonna play Sydney and our partners at Netflix suggested Priah. She did a chemistry read with Marlon and they just had an immediate spark.”
Not only did the two actors have chemistry, but Wadlow found charm in Ferguson’s personality and how she creates her character. “Priah has an incredible presence, right? She does that sassy thing really well in a way where love for it. You don't hate her. With a role like this, it's easy for an actress to come across as kind of a brat, but Priah doesn't because you just have so much fun watching her be sassy. She also conveys a lot of emotion that I think you feel whenever she's in a scene. That allows the audience to give her permission to have that attitude. Not only do they forgive her, they love her for it!” Beyond the great cast, the town, both figuratively and literally, comes alive. For Wadlow, the challenge to turn his setting into a character was a fun task. “I just had an incredible group of filmmakers and actors who understood that the town had to have a presence. We had to believe that the people who lived here were obsessed with Halloween and everyone just brought their A game. It was an interesting process because the town doesn't really exist. We didn't shoot in Massachusetts like the film suggests. We sort of made it from different parts of surrounding communities in Atlanta but we couldn’t really show that much of actual Atlanta. People would notice. It was just a real pleasure.”
The Curse of Bridge Hollow is now streaming on Netflix.