SXSW 2022 interview: Writer/director Brendan Muldowney and co-stars Elisha Cuthbert and Eoin Macken talk

Last weekend, writer/director Brendan Muldowney celebrated the world premiere of his latest feature film project, The caveat the 2022 SXSW Film Festival. With Elisha Cuthbert and Eoin Macken, The cave centers on the Woods family as they move into a mysterious new home so parents Keira (Cuthbert) and Brian (Macken) can be closer to their work. Their children aren’t entirely thrilled with the new housing arrangement, but after the Woods’ teenage daughter, Ellie (Abby Fitz), goes missing after walking into the basement of their new home, Keira is bonded and determined to bring her child back. by all means. necessary.

While in Austin, Daily Dead had the opportunity to speak with Muldowney, Cuthbert and Macken about their experiences working on The cave together and more during a press day at the festival. Here is the first part of our conversation with the trio; be sure to check back here next month when we air the second installment of our interview with that creative team behind The cave when the film is gearing up for its theatrical release and its same-day Shudder debut on April 15.

Brendan, I was wondering if you’d start at the beginning. Can you talk about taking your shorts off The ten steps and the process you creatively went through when you turned it into this feature, The cave?

Brendan Muldowney: Well, it’s gone through many different versions. I tried extending the short, but it didn’t work. I tried it in prologue. I tried many different versions until I finally settled on this story, which was really obvious, where a child has gone missing and a mother is trying to find her. So the other part that took a bit of time was the mythology. I went through many different versions of why this could have happened. At one point, I just said, “You know, this should be math related. And I Googled “math” and maybe “supernatural math”, or “math and the devil” or something like that. But then evil numbers appeared and I did some research on it. It wasn’t going anywhere, but that was the starting point. Then I went back to one of my other obsessions, which is quantum physics, and things like string theory and dimensions. I don’t understand everything, but I like to sit there and let my brain think about it. So there were a lot of things, really.

So after all these years between short film and feature film, you finally get to that point where you’re like, “Okay, we have the script and everything, but now we’re in the middle of COVID.” Did that end up changing the way you were going to approach this project, or was it still just a game, like you always planned?

Brendan Muldowney: Look, for everyone in the world, COVID was just something nobody knew what to do with. And I mean, I heard Richard Linklater say it yesterday. I’m paraphrasing him, but he said, “Look, we’re filmmakers and filmmakers just adapt.” And that’s really all. And after the first day, you don’t even think about everything; you just keep going.

Elisha Cuthbert: I don’t know how we were able to get it off the ground, just to film it, but we did. I mean, it ended like at any point you felt like, ‘Oh, if anybody’s positive here, the movie’s over.’ So you’re on a cliffhanger all the time, but I think that adds increased stress to the whole thing. Mainly for the producers, but really for us too. Everyone in the crew made it so great for us, though. As soon as we arrived, we had to quarantine ourselves for two weeks before filming, but we were quarantined in the house where we were filming.

There was this amazing feeling where I could immerse myself with the script on location for two weeks non-stop. It’s like, what other movie can I do this on? And I mean, the producers were bringing us supplies because we couldn’t leave. Everyone was waiting for us. For me it was a different experience, but for the producers it was probably pretty crazy. So everyone had a different experience, but that bubble was really cool for us to be able to experience, to make the movie. It was like a nice little family and it was just, for me anyway, a great experience.

Eoin Macken: Yeah. I think especially when you’re doing a horror movie like that, which is in a central location, the atmosphere of the story was amplified by the fact that we were all there together away from it all. I think because of the way they handled it all, it only heightened all the elements that helped us get totally sucked into the subject of this story.

[Photo Credit: Above photo courtesy of SHUDDER / RLJE Films.]


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