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Thursday, April 25, 2024

‘Humane’ – Caitlin Cronenberg, Emily Hampshire, and Jay Baruchel on Violent Horror Satire

Caitlin Cronenberg, the daughter of horror master David Cronenberg, is making her own mark in the genre filmmaking space with Humane, a horror/thriller satire starring Jay Baruchel (This Is The End) and Emily Hampshire (“Schitt’s Creek”) that forces an affluent family to make an unthinkable choice.

Humane will first be arriving in theaters courtesy of IFC Films on April 26, 2024. The film later comes home to Shudder on July 26. 

Michael Sparaga wrote the script and produces the movie, which also stars Peter Gallagher (Grace and Frankie), Sebastian Chacon (Emergency), Alanna Bale (Sort Of, Cardinal) and Sirena Gulamgaus (“Chapelwaite“).

In Humane, “a recently retired newsman has invited his grown children to dinner to announce his intentions to enlist in the nation’s new euthanasia program. But when the father’s plan goes horribly awry, tensions flare, and chaos erupts among his children.”

Ahead of the film’s theatrical release this week, Bloody Disgusting spoke with director Caitlin Cronenberg along with stars Emily Hampshire and Jay Baruchel, who play siblings Rachel and Jared York. 

Caitlin Cronenberg hails from a family of filmmakers known for their genre output, but that didn’t mean it was a foregone conclusion that Caitlin Cronenberg’s feature debut would also be horror. The filmmaker isn’t quite sure that Humane counts, either.

Cast of Humane

Cronenberg explains, “I don’t even know that it is classified as a horror movie, which is why I love it so much. It has got horror elements, it’s got thriller elements, and then it’s a family drama, ultimately. I think that the depth of the story is what was the most appealing to me, and the fact that there was an opportunity to throw some good gore in there certainly was appealing in my very soul. But I do think it’s just a matter of what speaks to you. There was no plan in place for what my first feature would be. It was, ‘I love this. Let’s make it.’ Not that simple, but you know what I mean?”

Humane plays like a stage play, trapping its characters inside a single location with a ticking clock as the tension heats from a simmer to a roaring boil. Because the dialogue-heavy film is so reliant on its casting, Cronenberg wasn’t just looking for key personality traits to play her affluent family but also looking for actors with whom she could collaborate.

Cronenberg says of her cast, “Em was my first text/call. She was very obviously someone who could handle all of the complexities of the Rachel character, and also somebody who I knew would just be a fucking blast to work with. Jay was exactly the same, just the next person that we talked to. I just knew that he would absolutely kill it. Jared having a range of the worst kind of person to an emotional person, and all the way back around. Really, once we had the two siblings as the anchor points, the rest of the film cast came into place. Because I think you’ve got two strong actors who know how to work together, they’re going to lead the charge. Then, everyone else gets to be brought into this sphere of great energy and great talent. The script was actually written for Enrico Colantoni, who played Bob, which was just a no-brainer bringing him in. Just a mind-blowing performance as Bob.”

Enrico Colantoni

While Emily Hampshire and Jay Baruchel didn’t hesitate to say yes to working with Cronenberg and each other, both actors have the daunting task of playing morally tricky characters within an entitled, rich family. Yet both find ways to instill rooting interest. How do the actors find the humanity in characters like Rachel or Jared York?

Hampshire reflects, “My first thought is, I love a character. It’s so fun to get to do all the things that you’re not allowed to do in society because no one will like you. But I think inherent in that is the humanity. Everybody has those thoughts of being that person, doing the wrong thing, and seeing somebody executedI think is really likable. Like you love to hate them. I don’t know. Jay, you?”

Baruchel elaborates, “I think if you’re doing your job correctly and your responsibilities are what they should be, the gig is the same every time. Which is, try to be truthful and try to be truthful in a compelling way that serves the story and doesn’t step on other shit. Then, look for little bits of daylight where you can sometimes put in your own little bit of shading in the margins, too. So, this is all to say that it’s all on the page, as much of a cliché as that is. I think that the story unfolds the way that it should. So, I just have to trust that that, as a manual or roadmap, is the right direction to where we’re going; Caitlin will drive us there. Then the job for Emily and I, and whomever else in the moment, is to try to be as truthful to the moment we’re creating as we possibly can. In that respect, if I am being honest and truthful about it, I will inevitably pull something from me and put it in there.”

It likely helps, at least in Hampshire’s case, that these tricky characters are also struggling parents. Rachel York becomes a bit more relatable through her relationship and fierce love of her daughter Mia, played by Sirena Gulamgaus. Hampshire humorously recounts the role she played in Gulamgaus’s casting.

Hampshire tells Bloody Disgusting, “I had actually worked with Sirena on a show called Chapelwaite, and she played my stepdaughter. When Caitlin was looking for Mia, I was like, ‘This girl. Like you’ve got to see this.’ And she killed it. I was very proud of my daughter. That was really great, especially for me. I don’t usually get- I shouldn’t say that. I was going to say I don’t usually get cast as a mom. I get cast as a bad mom or mom of a ghost baby, and so I have a hard time believing in myself as a mother. So, to have the relationship I already have with Sirena, which is like, ‘She’s the mom,’ that made it a lot easier.”

Emily Hampshire bloodied in Humane

Humane backs the York family into a corner and forces them to make a harrowing choice, which means that tensions eventually explode into violence. More than just biting sarcasm and sharp, witty dialogue, the film gives Hampshire and Baruchel a lot to do when it comes to physical violence, as well. But which is more fun to play?

Baruchel jokes, “I have a crippling addiction to pratfalls, so when we’re in the Tom and Jerry portion of the movie, I am just a pig in shit. I could get my ass kicked every day, and, yeah, I keep coming back for it. So for me personally, all of the physical shit.”

Hampshire agrees, “I love the physical shit when I don’t have to actually be good at it. I’ve had to do some things where I have a gun, and I’m supposed to look like I can use it, and I don’t believe myself in that. But this, I love that we’re not stunt people; we’re siblings fighting with weapons, and there’s a lot of funny in that. Like really trying to kill somebody is actually harder than you think.”

“I loved the surprise on their faces when they actually managed to hurt another person, Cronenberg adds.

The post ‘Humane’ – Caitlin Cronenberg, Emily Hampshire, and Jay Baruchel on Violent Horror Satire appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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