As technology increases, the horror genre seem to struggle more and more with how to implement it into a great story. We’ve had and we have a string of films that “cheat” by taking us back to a simpler time. We’ve had others that use it when it forwards the plots. Very few have used it well within the story.
Private Number is very comfortable with technology. It’s a supernatural mystery, and it’s very comfortable in that role as well. Writer/director LazRael Lison should be proud for what he accomplished here: In a genre that is ripe with easy outs or missteps, he put together a great little movie that will remind you of a mix between The Dark Half and Stir of Echoes. It hits theaters and VOD May 1, 2015, and Lison took some time to sit down with me to answer some questions about the upcoming horror film.
Michael (Hal Ozsan) is a writer trying to build off the success of his first book. The second one is not going well, and frustrations are starting to mount for the writer. His character (a dark knight) taunts him as he writes (which is quite brilliant to bring into the equation of a supernatural story). His wife Katherine (Nicholle Tom) has been quite successful professionally, but is ready to settle down with some kids. Their typical life begins to unravel when a private number begins calling them late at night. The only thing the caller asks is “Do you remember me?”.
This seems to exacerbate Michael’s frustration as he wonders and then begins investigating the source of the calls. The police are no help. Judd Nelson plays the sheriff that is doesn’t seem to find the calls particularly noteworthy. Katherine fears that Michael seems to drinking again, but Michael wears his sobriety on his sleeve. Michael turns to his sponsor at AA (Tom Sizemore) for support, and the words are quite inspiring. According to Lison, “He made it personal. It was crazy. On that day, you had a lot of people crying because it was real.”
Private Number feels like a Dark Half and Stir of Echoes mix. What establishes it as a good mystery is that it will keep you guessing throughout the film. These films usually have 2 conclusions, and the usual red herrings are present throughout. But as Michael becomes more of an investigator (which usually leads to the character being more driven towards something), he becomes more unhinged in who he is. Katherine experiences the paranormal activity as well so it all can’t be in Michael’s head. It really does play out nicely, and I asked Lison what makes this so effective. “Experience” he said. “I’ve always been a big fan of the genre. If a person figures it out, you lose the audience. When something seems too obvious, it is. Even though you know something is twisted,it’s the journey that really matters in the end.”
It’s a very character driven horror movie, and Ozsan sells many of his scenes well. Despite my affinity for Tom’s acting, Katherine’s actions are so very inconsistent for the events that unfold (and towards Michael in general). In fact, the side characters all are quite inconsistent in this manner. It doesn’t bring down Private Number, but it just kind of adds to the guessing game you play throughout the movie. Sizemore comes off as the most sincere and realistic character, but he’s not asked to do much more than to play real life addict Tom Sizemore.
Private Number is definitely worth a look. While there are some character issues with it, the product overall is quite enjoyable. Horror mysteries are not easy to do, and this one stands up right with the heavyweights of the genre. Check it out, and keep an eye for more to come from LazRael Lison. He’s young, and he’s putting together movies beyond his experience. He’s going to be a player for some time, but what does the future hold? “This year has been really busy for us. I’ve been shooting non stop. I’m doing stories I’m really passionate about it. I just finished a movie called Perspective (which is more of an art house film). With Perspective, I was going for something beautiful. On June 1st we go into production with an edgy comedy shooting in both LA and Fillmore, CA”
Scaretissue.com would like to thank LazRael Lison for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer some of our questions. Thank you.