Fairy tales don’t all have happy endings, despite the stories Disney tells us; they have complicated endings that teach us something real about living. What I love about the Grimm tales is that they drive home with frightening urgency the importance of living a true and good life. As a child who has lived through her own dark fairy tale, I wrote Repass to tell a story of hope and healing for the international community.
Repass tells the haunting story of a family that is pulled apart by tragedy–the loss of a child in the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina. The levels of anguish within the community are eclipsed by the most terrifying incidence of a child’s life- the disintegration of the family. I tell this fairy tale to remind us of something so vitally important to life– there is always light; there is always hope. The character and heroine Marie shows us there is always a light, and that light comes from within.
Much like the fairy tale-esque films, The Sixth Sense, Pans Labyrinth and Take Shelter, Repass is a film that challenges our traditional realities and notions. It is in the darkness Marie discovers the serenity of the cemeteries, not the light. She draws strength from the grotesque voodoo dance sequences, not fear. I upset the demonic portrayal of voodoo as seen in Angel Heart and introduce the true African spirit of voodoo which is based in family and healing. Horror does not come in cheap shocks, and scratchy violins. Terror taunts from silent spaces that prolong our agony and tantalize our imagination. Obscured shots prophesy the fragmenting of the family. Slow shots seed our fear as in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. Marie’s reality is all that matters.
I don’t believe in make believe. At least where the camera is concerned. Gritty reality is the truest lesson in camera and on set. Celluloid is more powerful than pixels. Locations are everything and I have permission to shoot in the perfect privately-owned fairy tale cemetery on the water. Devastation should be found and not dressed. Voodoo sequences are based in ceremony and not performance. Real animals are wrangled and not painted. Rainbows will be captured and not drawn. Water scenes are not CGI’d, that are lit as in Jane Campion’s The Piano. Marie is not a savior, she is a little girl who learns how to forgive herself.