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“We all started together and didn’t know what we were doing” – The Adams Family talk Where The Devil Roams

6 min read
A still of Toby Poser in Where The Devil Roams

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie being covered here wouldn't exist.

are fast becoming some of the biggest names in indie filmmaking with the release of hit oddities such as The Deeper You Dig and Hellbender. Made up of married couple Toby Poser and , and their children Lulu and , the genre quartet expertly craft weird and wonderful splatterfests soundtracked by their own family band.

For 2023, the family returned to revered UK horror festival with their latest work, , for its European premiere. While at the London event, FILMHOUNDS caught up with Toby, John and Lulu to talk about the 's influences, how they develop their ideas, and filmmaking as a family.

You're at FrightFest for the European premiere of Where The Devil Roams, what is it like to return to the festival and hear so much buzz about your new film?

Toby Poser: It's so great to be back here, I love London. It's kind of like revisiting an old lover because I went to school here in the late eighties, and so I have a real love affair with the city and I love this festival. The people come to watch films, the filmmakers, the staff, it's just got a great buzz.

John Adams: FrightFest is the best horror festival in the world. So it feels like that. They put on an amazing show, they have great press and great audiences. Their audiences are so film-educated so it's great to be among them, and also get to watch other filmmakers' work. Yeah. We don't just get to socialise, it's also a learning experience. We're lucky for things like FrightFest that celebrate what we do and allow us to continue doing it together.

: It's my first time here. My family came last time with my little sister. It's so exciting to see everyone obsessed with film and the theatre just bustling. It's so great to be here and talk with everyone about film. And you kind of see some of the same people that we've known in the film circuit.

Where did the inspiration for the film come from and what was behind the decision to set the film in Depression-era America?

TP: The initial bulk of the film was inspired by our daughter Zelda's nightmares. She wanted to focus on a family of circus performers and that idea evolved into a family of sideshow performers. We chose the Depression because the era is so rife with material. The desperation of its citizens a lot, the disparity between the halves of society. It's got this built-in conflict of people and there's a darkness there. We also really wanted to shine a light on the people who are the misfits, those who are forgotten as we kind of feel like feel misfits ourselves. So it felt a little autobiographical.

LL: The idea kind of just evolved into this Frankenstein Meets Bonnie and Clyde kind of combination. And then we used where we lived in upstate New York in the mountains, which is very dark and cold and isolated in the winter. You don't really see anyone around and it's kind of eerie and melancholy, but beautiful. And so that kind of influenced the Depression era and how we could use that to work with the landscape that we were using.

What was shooting on location like for Where The Devil Roams?

LL: Most of our movies are all shot in our backyard. We have a plot of land in upstate New York, in the mountains. And so we've got different creepy ravines and rivers and trees that we know. The weather's totally chaotic. I think our biggest challenge was probably things freezing overnight. The old wood bars found in the wood and used to build sets would freeze overnight, so you can stand on them sometimes and just slip. There was also a lot of time waiting under cover for it to stop raining.

I read in another that you were revamping how clowns and circus performers are seen in horror. I was wondering why you chose to do that?

TP: Zelda has a fear of clowns, which is where the initial idea came from, but our characters aren't clowns. We had a clown in the beginning, but she [Zelda] didn't want to actually shoot them again. But we thought, Well, it'd be fun to since we have a band to incorporate music. So instead of clowns, which we realised we weren't going to do very well, we decided we would be the sideshow performers with a very murderous side act to their side. But I actually like clowns a lot.

You've been making films as a family for over a decade now. Are there any challenges that come with that?

JA: My kids and my wife are my friends so it's mostly just a dream come true. We're just enjoying each other's company and doing something that we really like. We're equals and always have been even though the kids started when they were five and 10. We all started together and didn't know what the hell we were doing so we learned together. We're incredibly lucky.

LL: It really is great. It's not what I think people would want for a reality TV show, because there really isn't that kind of drama with us. When we first started, none of us had done films before but we'd all done a bit of acting. So we all started equal which I think gave us that dynamic of working as friends and equivalents together. We all loved travelling already and we grew up camping and doing road trips together which helps with filming in different locations. We were all interested in art of some form and we got to build this idea together. Getting to do it together makes it really comfortable and safe to lean on each other.

You also make music together and have spoken about the influence of music on the film. Could you tell me how your music with Hellbender fits in?

JA: Music has always been a huge part of our lives. I've had bands with both of my daughters and now we all have a band together. Luckily, the audience that likes our films has gotten used to the fact that we always have our music in it. And, in one sense, we play with the whole idea that we're making musicals with our kids. We're allowed a lot of artistic freedom with our music and enjoy the process of trying to write music that best suits the visuals of the film. Each movie has a certain sound to it that we worked really hard to try to achieve together. We had a lot of conversations about it and listen to a lot of bands. We come from different genders, sexualities, and ages, so everybody has a different influence.

Looking to the future, do you have any projects in the pipeline?

JA: There's always stuff in the pipeline. We shot a movie this summer because Zelda and Lulu wanted to shoot one real fast while they were home. So we did one and now we're going to edit it. Toby and I are drifting around, they're going to college. Then Zelda just came up with a whole new idea and we never stopped.

Where The Devil Roams had its European premiere at  2023 on August 25.