LOCAL PROJECT - Ignition Theatre’s first offering of the season is a film entitled Break on Through. Screenings run Oct. 14th through to Oct. 18th at the Welikoklad Event Centre in downtown Red Deer. photo submitted

Ignition Theatre presents ‘Break on Through’

Compelling, haunting film features exceptional performances

Ignition Theatre is back in full creative force with its first offering of the season, a film entitled Break on Through.

Screenings will be held Oct. 14th through to Oct. 18th at the Welikoklad Event Centre in downtown Red Deer.

Shot mainly near Alix, the film – not even remotely dull for a single, solitary moment – is something of a tense, psychological journey. There is much to interpret – or is there?

The synopsis reads, “A group of strangers find themselves trapped in an abandoned farmhouse during a potentially cataclysmic world event. As their fear and confusion mounts, they must learn to trust one another if they have any hope of survival.”

Kudos to an exceptional cast, particularly Amber Bissonette who in many ways is really at the heart of this film.

Her convincing, raw performance is something of an anchor to the production. Sebastian Kroon is terrific as the intense Bogart and then there is Christoff Lundgren who makes an absolutely unforgettable appearance near the end of the film. Nobody could have nailed this character more powerfully – he is superb with his ice cold expressions and steely, unnerving eyes.

The film is packed with odd, jarring and even troubling scenes – and they aren’t particularly blatant ones.

Even a sweeping scene of peaceful countryside looks eerie and foreboding. Camera angles are cleverly used to drive every one of these sensibilities home as well.

As are the lighting and sound effects. It’s quite the artistic feat – something that writer Matt Grue, who is also the artistic director of Ignition Theatre, should be proud of as should his director – the gifted Dustin Clark.

Grue explains that he had first though of the story as a play, “Coming off the heels of revisiting the Romero classic Night of the Living Dead.

“What that film does brilliantly is that even though a zombie apocalypse is happening outside, you’re mostly invested on the people trapped inside the house.

“However, the movie provoked a really interesting question/idea for me: in Living Dead they’re ultimately fighting against a known, physical threat. Might it be more interesting if the ‘threat’ was unknown?”

Meanwhile, what exactly are these folks running from? What battles are intrinsic and which are distinctly pressing in from the outside in ‘real time’.

What springs from memory and imagination and pain from the past? There is much to explore here.

Grue once again teamed up with Clark, who signed on to direct the project.

“Because of our history, we trust one another and filmmaking is actually a pretty vulnerable creative process. Trust is key. But also is mutual respect. We know what each other is capable of and it inspires both of us to be better. For ourselves and each other.”

Meanwhile, Grue pointed out that there are aspects of the film that are quite personal. But having said that, there is a universal sense to the material as well.

“We explore themes of reconciliation, mental illness, mortality and faith – big themes to explore in a ‘thriller’.

“We allow those themes to exist without beating the audience over the head with it. Certainly I’m exorcising some of my own experiences, questions and fears but ultimately I don’t want the film bogged down by my baggage. Those are all compelling themes to explore, but not at the expense of telling a suspenseful, interesting and entertaining story.”

Of course, casting is huge – and, as mentioned, the choices made for the parts is absolutely spot on. Grue said that while writing the story, he didn’t have specific actors in mine.

”But once we had a draft we did target a specific cast. Specifically Amber, Sebastian and Christoff.

“Several others we knew and had worked with in the past and were eager to work with again, but we also got very lucky finding Shelayna and Minyang (both making their acting debuts).

“Because of Minyang’s age, (he plays a mysterious youngster in the film – a real natural when it comes to being in front of the camera as well) I suspect the audience gets the sense he isn’t really making choices.

“I can tell you he’s making very deliberate choices, he was always asking intelligent questions and was able to interpret direction beautifully. He isn’t natural because he’s just going through the motions, he’s natural because he worked to develop an interesting character.”

Ultimately, Grue explained that the film, on many levels, demands a lot from its audience.

“We bend structure and convention and that means information doesn’t present itself in a usual way or at usual times in the film. It’s actually a bit jarring to watch when you’re used to a particular structure, but often you’re not aware of just how jarring it was until the ending.”

Having said that, Grue said that a primary goal was to tell their story their way and ensure that the movie isn’t ambiguous for the sake of it; in fact, he thinks upon second viewing ‘most’ audiences wouldn’t find it ambiguous at all.

“We want the audience’s own history, own views, own ideas to influence what they take or don’t take away from the film.”

Tickets are available at www.breakonthroughmovie.com.

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