The name John Fallon may not instantly ring bells for those horror film fans who have been kicking around the internet for the past fifteen years, but his alter ego, Arrow In The Head, certainly will. Originally set up as the horror movie section of Fallon’s long-time friend Berge Garabedian’s hugely influential JoBlo website, which counts a certain Mr Spielberg among its fans, Arrow In The Head has grown into one of the biggest and most respected horror sites on the web under Fallon’s rock steady guidance.
Fallon’s real passion, though, has always been writing and making movies. As an actor he’s appeared in Saw II, 100 Feet (alongside Famke Janssen) and French sci-fi hit Dead Shadows, and has written and starred in the likes of Deaden, Recon 2022 and its sequel Recon 2023, and American Muscle. His Holy Grail of achievements, though, has been to direct his own feature length flick, and after helming the award winning short film The Red Hours back in 2008, Fallon has at last realised his dream with The Shelter, which is receiving its European premier at this year’s FrightFest.
The Shelter is the tale of a homeless man, widower Thomas (Michael Pare) who finds shelter for the night when he comes across a vast two story house with the lights on and an inviting open front door. Finding all the home comforts that he used to have, Thomas takes a bath, eats a hearty meal and turns in for the night. All is well until he wakes up suddenly to find a loaded revolver in his lap, the doors locked and the windows unbreakable. Something is very wrong and Thomas has to figure out how to survive.
We caught up with Fallon ahead of his trip to London later this month to fire six shots at him about his directorial debut.
This Is Horror: The Shelter is your first full-length feature, John, after cutting your teeth directing The Red Hours short movie back in 2008. How did the two experiences compare?
John Fallon: Well The Red Hours was way more guerrilla and rock and roll in terms of how we made it. I think we had a crew of 3 or something. It was down and dirty filmmaking. And although The Shelter did have pinches of that as well at times (some people filled more than one position at a time – for example, I wound up doing the stunts in the picture); we had way more to play with in terms of the size of our crew (put together by Producer Donny Broussard and I), budget and the amount of equipment i.e. toys at our disposal (provided by Holbrook Multi-Media). And needless to say shooting a feature length film is way more challenging to pull off than an 8 minute short.
The Shelter is being shown at this year’s FrightFest. How does it feel to be coming back to London and bringing your debut full-length directorial feature along for the ride?
I’ve never been to Frightfest and I am elated to attend for the first time as a filmmaker. So yeah, I can’t wait to be there! I love London in general and I hear that Frightfest is quite the fun festival to attend. I am honoured to have been invited!
How did the The Shelter story come about, and did you write it with any of the actors in mind?
On a cold winter night, I was going back home after a hockey game and came upon a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk. After giving him some money and walking home, I started thinking, “Who was that man?” – “How did he get there?” – “Where is he going?” Once home, I wrote those three questions down and the seed that would become The Shelter was planted. As for whom I had in mind for the lead character of Thomas? Well, he looked like Michael Pare when I was writing the script, no joke! Mike and I have known each other since 2008, hence yes, him eventually being cast as Thomas was a “meant to be” moment.
You’ve been involved in making movies, whether writing, producing or acting in them for the best part of fifteen years. What’s it been like to be in charge of your first full-length feature?
I think every film role I’ve had, every set I’ve been on, and every filmmaking experience I’ve stumbled and learned from led me to The Shelter. I felt very comfortable behind the camera and at the helm of the ship, in my element if you will. Looking back, granted, some things I should have done differently – but what’s important is that I learned by way of this trial by fire and will now bring said new knowledge to my next film.
You’ve been at the helm of Arrow In The Head since 2000, and are clearly a major horror movie fan. Do you think the horror landscape has changed much in the last fifteen years, and if so, for the better or does it need a shot in the arm?
I think that lots of the Studio horror has become denser, safer and more by the numbers over the years. Don’t ask me how products like Ouija and The Gallows made money; it makes no sense to me. Also Hollywood’s recycling machine (remakes, reboots) has kicked into overdrive; but I’ve somewhat made peace with that now. On that, I thank Crom for the Indie scene! Films like The Guest, The Babadook, The Gift or the upcoming Goodnight Mommy fulfil my craving for bold and out of the box horror!
Finally, what’s next for John Fallon (apart from, presumably, a well-deserved beer and a holiday)?
No holidays in sight sadly, but I’ll take that beer! Make it a Trooper Ale! In all seriousness though; film wise I have two scripts I was hired to write that are now in development (meaning I can’t talk about them until the money locks and they enter pre-prod). My sales agent and I are of course trying to nab distribution for The Shelter. And I am working on getting my next directorial effort off the ground; it’s something action oriented, bigger and more mainstream than The Shelter. I have a good team assembled, we’ve come real close in locking the movie and I have faith that we’ll get it done sooner than later. We just have to keep pushing – I know we have a winner on our hands. Once the money is locked, lets talk again!
The Shelter is showing at 8pm on Friday 28th August . There are a few tickets left HERE.
Many thanks to John for his time, and we’ll be sure to get him that beer when he’s in town!