Not your average horror film, Tone-Deaf follows a woman (Crew) who goes to the countryside to spend a quiet weekend after losing her job and having her complicated relationship implode on the same day. She rents a country house from an old-fashioned widower (Patrick), who struggles to hide his psychopathic tendencies.
Horror Fuel: “I enjoyed Tone-Deaf. How did the story come to be?”
Richard Bates Jr.: “Well, I’ll tell ya, I was watching the news with my wife. And I asked her what scares her the most in the world right now and she turned to me blankly and said ‘Old men.’ So, I went to my little corner and started thinking about it. John Waters always told me that if you want anyone to think about anything and seriously consider it, a good way to do it is to make them laugh. So, I started with this framework of a slasher-horror.
I find myself in meeting after meeting and there’s more content being made now than ever before. If you want to sell something you’ve really got to work within the confines of five or six structures. It’s sort of absurd what’s going on at the moment, with all that’s getting made, the rules are getting more rigid. I find myself listening to music more than anything else. No one complains about experimentation in music, you don’t hear someone ask why there’s a rainstick in the background of an indie rock song.
The idea was to make a movie by sampling, like a dance track or a hip hop song. and we have this script but we’d cut between a slasher-horror and an urban comedy in equal measure throughout to make this something different. And to be reflective of all the media and hype that you go through in just a day. Within 24 hours I can feel like I’ve been through 16 different movies. That’s sort of the idea behind that. The fun of it is to take a character like Harvey, he’s at an age where he is done growing and he’s open to nothing else and pit him against someone that is still figuring herself out. She’s open to everything. In front of that is this sort of collision. The way it’s structured, she doesn’t even know that she’s in a horror movie until the third act. And then she becomes a real participant in her life. Once she realizes what is going on, then she breaks the law. She realizes.’Oh, this is his movie. This should be my movie.’ The movie ends with her sort of beginning her life as her true self and as a participant in it.”
Horror Fuel: “That makes a lot of sense. I have to say, I loved both characters, but especially the character of Harvey. Robert Patrick was perfect for the role.”
Richard Bates Jr.: “He’s so good isn’t he! He’s wonderful.
I grew up in the south and my family’s from the south and they’re a lot more conservative than me. I’m the liberal-leaning guy that left for New York after high school and the idea of making fun of the conservative without making fun of the liberals. I don’t want one side to walk out of the movie furious because of the idea that we’re all full of shit. We are all full of shit, we’re all hypocrites, and that’s the common ground, every single one of us, myself included, are all full of shit. It’s just the truth. And if we use it to meet in the middle we can start talking about what differentiates us as humans. Some are motivated completely by self-interest while others, no matter how ill-conceived the way they’re going about it, they are trying to create good in the world, they are trying to make things better. I think that’s the real difference.”
Richard Bates Jr.: Thank you.”
Richard has made some seriously great films and I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. The good news is you won’t have to wait long to see Tone-Deaf for yourself, the movie, which we gave 4/5 skulls in our review, opens in theaters and arrives On Demand on August 23, 2019, from Saban Films.