BUSAN ― “Convergence” is the kind of movie that reaffirms why fans of genre films go to film festivals. It sits somewhere in the space of an action, mystery, thriller, indie, ghost, horror feature, yet finds an original way to bust its genres open and surprise audiences ― both in twists of the story itself and the conversations it evokes about life, theology and what is truly horrifying.
Coming off his overall win at FirstGlance Film Fest Los Angeles, writer and director Drew Hall brought “Convergence” to Korea through the Midnight Passion category at the 20th Busan International Film Festival, which made the movie one of only two in the field of 304 films from 75 countries to get the seat-rumbling “4DX” treatment.
“Convergence,” which Hall says has some influence from Kim Jee-woon’s violent horror classic “I Saw the Devil” (2010), follows arson investigator Ben Walls, who wakes to find himself in a mostly empty hospital, and is eager to find his way out.
A scene from "Convergence" (Frame 29 Films/BIFF)
Unable to find his glasses, the farsighted Walls struggles through corridors, allowing the audience to discover the tension between what can be seen and what cannot, and how we can misunderstand the world around us. “One day I walked out of my garage and forgot my sunglasses ... and that is literally (where) the entire film ... came from,” Hall explained.
Moving through the levels of the hospital in a Dante-esque scenario, the eeriness grows as Walls, also a pastor’s son, finds himself being pursued by a murderous Christian zealot, as shadowy figures go in and out of view.
“I wrote what terrified me, so I took that fear I had when I was a child of that ... sort of world,” Hall said, referring to his Southern Baptist upbringing in the U.S. South amid charged antiabortion protests. “A lot of the acts that are referred to in the film happened around where I grew up in Mobile (Alabama) and Pensacola (Florida) ... people just walking up and killing innocent people because they believed they were related to abortion,” he added. “That’s terrifying.”
Writer and director Drew Hall (Geri Kramer Photography/BIFF)
Hall says while audiences in the U.S. have often gotten stuck on religious aspects of the movie ― faith, grace and redemption recur throughout ― Korean audiences’ reactions have been “completely different.”
“They pay attention beyond anything I’ve ever experienced. It’s humbling, flattering,” he said. “(Korean audiences) look right past that (the religious aspects) and realize there’s something else to it,” he said, pointing out the film is more spiritual and not really negative toward religion.
Speaking on his own Christian beliefs and the final role of faith in the horror thriller, Hall concludes: “I found a belief that sometimes we don’t get to see the final outcome of a situation, but by having faith, we know that everything and everyone has a purpose ― in ‘Convergence’ this is what the ending sequence of the film represents to me.”
As the director trots around the world showing off what he described as his “first baby” in “Convergence,” Hall is also looking toward future projects, and he’s liked what he’s seen in Korea.
“I’ve seen enough of the pictures here, and I’ve seen what they’ve done visually,” Hall said, describing his pitch to a producer to make a future film in Korea, “We can produce a project (in Korea) that looks every bit ‘Hollywood,’ if not better.”
“My dream stuff is sci-fi,” he beamed.
And Hall has high hopes for his “second baby” to be “Aether: Rise of the Specter,” an ambitious new take on a steampunk version of sci-fi that he is looking to secure $40 million in funding for ― a far leap from that of “Convergence” ― to realize his vision. Earlier this year, a “proof of concept” preview video was publicly released, with a comic book series in the universe slated for release soon. The video and more information on “Aether” can be found at www.AetherPrologue.com.
The fourth and final showing of “Convergence” at the Busan film fest is set for Wednesday at 8 p.m., with the festival finishing Saturday. More information on the festival can be found at www.biff.kr.
By Kevin Lee Selzer (email@example.com)