“Known for putting his unique stamp on the horror community with his cross-genre vision and fast paced style, Writer/Director Padraig Reynolds is best known for Rites of Spring (2011) with IFC, The Devil’s Dolls (2016) and Open 24 Hours (2018). His most recent feature film, Dark Light debuted on Netflix in March of 2020.
Other projects include: Rites of Spring 2: Devil Sent the Rain, Sony Pictures mini series “Buried Alive” and an adaptation of the non-fiction novel Starvation Heights for Kerry, Kimmel and Pollack. His next movie, High Desert is currently in pre-production and scheduled to begin principal photography this fall.”
Hi Padraig, tell us about Open 24 Hours and how this idea manifested for you?
It started way back in 2010. I was doing my first movie; Rites of Spring and we we’re looking for a gas station. The producers found this great gas station in Mississippi. It was isolated away from the rest of the town and it was pretty much just used for farmers, hunters, and stuff like that? I thought this is great gas station. I should write a whole movie around this. That night I went back to my hotel room and over the years I formed the backstory, you know why Mary works in this gas station. My goal was to always shoot it at that gas station. The funny thing about is I finally got the money to do the movie and they told me we were going to shoot the movie in Serbia. We went to Serbia but, they re-did that gas station exactly like the one in Mississippi. They built it there, it was crazy.
Did you ever have any weird gas station experiences?
I grew up in Missouri, so we have a lot of those gas stations. The one in Mississippi was interesting. It was big for that type of story. It had a back room with a pool table and then there was another back room with a shower and a bathtub. Across the street, there was an abandoned trailer park. I wrote the script for her when she runs away from James, she goes over to the trailer park. We didn’t have one in Serbia but there was this abandoned car graveyard. I thought it was interesting. I thought, I can just swap out the trailer park for the car graveyard that’s right next door.
How did you get the cast prepared for everything?
Everybody went through the auditioning process. James was the first one I hired; he was one of the first people I saw tape because I was looking at the audition tapes. I was already in Serbia. I was like, oh wow, that guy is great. I didn’t want someone that was ultimately just bad. I wanted him to kind of have a charisma about him, a little bit like Ted Bundy. This guy could talk this girl into doing all this stuff. Vanessa was in this movie called Leatherface and I loved her performance in that. I hired her friend Jessica for my other movie. Vanessa sent her audition tape and then we met while we were in Serbia and we did a script read-through and she just nailed it. When you write a character, you hope that when people are reading what you write that its good. Brandan Fletcher auditioned for the role of the killer and he’s like, “I kind of want to play Bobby.” I said, I’d love you for Bobby because I need someone with great comic timing. He said he’d never done that much comedy. I was like, that’s great and he really filled out the part.
What was it like shooting in Serbia?
It was wonderful, the crews over there are great. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t even meet the producers until I was in Serbia which was crazy. I got my DP from Mississippi because I’ve worked with him before. We flew over there and Clockwork Productions, it’s production company out of Serbia. They picked us up at the airport and it was off and running. It was cold though.
It’s always amazing when you find out a movie was shot overseas, and it’s supposed to be in the states. It’s wild all the work and creativity that goes into everything.
What’s crazy is, I walk into the production office and they had a huge poster of the gas station in Mississippi, they got it off the internet. They blew it up so they could match it. They were building the ice machines. The hardest thing they couldn’t find was the deer head. They had to make that from scratch.
What about the special effects? What can you tell us about the effects?
They’ve been on board since day one. It’s Josh and Sierra Russell, they are out of Los Angeles. I’ve worked with them on all four movies. This is how I helped sell this movie, Josh and I went to Mississippi and shot a teaser trailer. The hard part was to get all the special effects over there. We had to pack heads in people’s duffle bags. I was like, are they even going to be able to go through customs. It all worked out well.
What are you working on next?
I wrote a script called, High Desert. I like female protagonist in isolated areas, so I wrote this movie. I want to hopefully shoot that after the pandemic ends.
Oh, that makes me think of the house in Dark Light. It’s creepy and I love it.
They built that too. I shot that in Georgia. They built that in two weeks. They drove me out to corn fields and said, “where do you want the house?” I said, I can put it anywhere, I said let’s put it between the two rows so she can walk out into the field.
What do you want to say to the people who will be watching Open 24 Hours?
Thanks for watching. I’m glad I got this movie; it was one of my favorite movies that I wrote. It took me a while to get it financed. What’s cool is Josh looked over at me while we were onset and said, “I knew we would do this movie. I’m just happy that I finally got it made. Thanks for watching, I hope everybody likes it. I think its fun. It’s a nice isolated self-contained horror movie.
Thank you so much Padraig! It was great talking to you.
Thank you so much for having me.