Putting it that way, James M. Hausler's 'Kalamity' (opening in New York and L.A. on October 22nd) sounds like it could be strictly a horror movie, but it's not. Yes, it involves murder, but blood shed and intrigue isn't the main motive here. 'Kalamity' is a well written, starkly realistic drama about how people, particularly friends, change over time; about how you can never go home again; and about whether you actually should try to go back to your old life.
Plus it's got a great cast. Stahl is a perfect match for Billy, a man who plenty of recently graduated, career drifting adult males will identify with, and he's surrounded by a number of standout performances (particularly Jonathan Jackson) and welcome faces (Robert Forster as his father, for one).
Cinematical recently spoke to Stahl about 'Kalamity.' It was a brief chat, but we broached not only the themes mentioned above, but Stahl's recent turn in 'Mirrors 2,' as well as whether or not there was any chance we'd ever see a 'Carnivale' comeback of some kind.
How did you come to the project?
Nick Stahl: Well, it was kind of a standard thing. It was offered and I read the script. I thought it was certainly well written and basically just liked the character so I jumped on board.
Did you have any sort of personal attachment to Billy?
I think there were things he was going through with his breakup and his best friend were things that I could relate to-- I think most people could on some level. There are universal themes, I think, in that way.
Do you think that that the film's theme of "You can never go home again, your friends have changed," is something that is particularly relevant to the current generation of twenty and thirty year-olds?
Well I think you can [go home again], but the real question is, "Do you want to?" I think there's that element that when you go back home you feel like you're a teenager again. That's how your parents make you feel. It's because the memories you have are all about the place you grew up, so you just kind of go back to it all.
The idea that you move on from the place you grow up and then you move on only to come home and find everything is exactly the same is also a kind of universal theme, you know? In this case, he's dealing with a best friend he grew up with who has changed a lot and that's the basis for conflict in the movie.
One of the things I found interesting in the press notes is that the director describes the movie as, "a mystery without a mystery". It doesn't mislead the audience about whether something bad has happened, it's all about the characters discovering what's going on. Do you feel that's something that makes 'Kalamity' a bit more unique than other, maybe more standard thrillers of this sort?
It's very much a mystery for my character in the movie, but maybe not as much for the audience. The audience experiences it more as a straight drama or a realistic portrayal of these young people in the suburbs. For my character it's certainly a mystery. He's putting the pieces together and at the same time trying to put his life back together.
But that's an interesting way to put it. I hadn't heard that before. But to me that just sort of means that it's pretty much a straight drama.
Having lived in Northern Virginia when the DC Sniper situation happened, I'm probably more aware of this than others, but there's one scene in particular in the movie that stood out to me. It's early on with Stanley in his car, idling at a red light next to a woman. He pulls out a gun and points it at her head, completely oblivious to her, and I was just wondering if you know at any point during filming someone said, "You know what guys, we might not want to do this in Northern Virginia?"
That's interesting. I wasn't actually there when they shot that bit, so I don't know if that was a concern for them or not. So that was the area, then?
Yeah, there were a couple shootings in and around Fairfax specifically. I personally don't think it's a particularly tasteless scene, though asking about it probably makes me sound overly sensitive to it, it just struck me as a bold move.
I've wondered about that a lot, actually; like when you have a low budget movie and you're waving guns around on the street. You've got to be careful with that, I think.
As a quick tangent, since it also comes out this week, I was wondering about 'Mirrors 2' and how you came to star in it. Are you a big fan of horror movies?
No, not really, actually. I like horror, but it's never been something that I've particularly loved or anything. It was kind of similar: it just fell into my lap and I thought it could be fun. I've done so many really heavy, darker dramas and it's nice to do something that's just fun occasionally. That's kind of what that was.
So what's next for you on the horizon?
I'm doing a film right now in New York called 'The Boarding House' that is a small, character piece drama with Alicia Witt and Ray Wise. I did a film in Canada earlier this year called 'Afghan Luke' that'll be coming out as well.
I assume the answer is the same it's been for a while, but since I know I'll get punched in the face if I don't ask it, is there any possible resurgence for 'Carnivale'?
Man, I wish there was. I think at one point they were going to do a film of it for HBO, but that never happened. I would say in all likelihood that it's not going to come back. It's been quite a while now, but you never know... Ben Hawkins at 45 would be cool, so we'll see.