Director Walter Boholst Talks Voodoo Possession


Voodoo Possession is a dark thriller that chronicles the journey of a young man to find his estranged brother. It’s available NOW from Image Entertainment.
Writer/director Walter Boholst took time to sit with Sinful Celluloid and talk Voodoo kills, Redemption, and Linda Vista Hospital.

Can you tell me a little about Voodoo Possession? 
Voodoo possession is a story about a man who has to find his missing brother, who is in an insane asylum. But when he gets there he finds out that all these patients are possessed by voodoo spirits. So he has to leave reality and explore this voodoo world in order to save his brother’s body and soul.
We don’t get a lot of voodoo movies. How did you come on board this project?
I was actually working at the distributor, Image Entertainment, at the time as an attorney. The producer, Mark Burman, was ordering a film through us. So we just got to talking about a zombie script that I had and he said this is great. I’d like to make this at some point, but it’s very competitive in the zombie arena right now. So why don’t we find something with voodoo. We haven’t seen a good voodoo horror movie in a while. And I was like; yeah. So I did a ton of research to try and find something in the voodoo world that I could create a horror movie out of and this is kind of what I came up with.
Did you have any prior interest in voodoo films?
Not at all. (Laughs) it was one of those situations where is speaking to a producer/ director and he has an idea that sparks your interest. What people realize is that at first, we’re going to make a found footage movie. So I was doing a lot of research on film footage movies but the more we talked and the more we talked with the distributor we decided not to make a found footage movie because the market is so saturated. The more research I dead, the more interesting things I found about voodoo. It’s incredibly fascinating because it’s a religion like any other with its light and dark sides. There was a lot of rich material that I could draw from.
Where did you shoot?
We shot in two places. A small studio complex in downtown L.A., and we just some shooting at Linda Vista Hospital in East Los Angeles. That’s where we shot a lot of the bigger hallways and larger room shots, and we shot a lot of the smaller interiors downtown.
How did they cast them together?
It was a team effort. Obviously, Danny Trejo, we worked with at the distributor because we needed a name and someone who fit the role. We got lucky with a lot of the other cast members because usually a low-budget film it’s a grab bag. You don’t always get good actors. It was between me, producer Mark Burman, and the casting directors. I would say we had a knock down drag out fight during the casting sessions but there were a lot of good actors.  There’s always a factor soul was kind of a team effort really.

I feel that Aiden is a tough character to pull off because he has to remain likable. His introduction is so abrasive.
It’s an interesting journey because the character starts off in a troubled area, so the arc of the character is sort of understanding why he’s so troubled at that point in his life. It’s not very vulnerable or likable at first so we needed an actor who could pull off that darkness but it not be a total douche bag. Ryan had a good quality about him where he could be your college buddy but he also could pull together this intensity in darkness. A lot of other actors we saw could be dark and introverted but they didn’t have that likability of someone you want to have a beer with.
Would you say the Aidan’s story is a redemption story?
Oh yeah, absolutely. He’s going into this troubling period in his life and he doesn’t know why because the memories have been blocked out. It’s really about the two brothers and the rift that they eventually experience. So this is kind of him reconciling that rift and understand why his brother became distant to him. So yeah, it kind of is a redemption story and an understanding story. And I thought it would be more poetic if you went all this way to save his brother but couldn’t save him completely. At least he saved his soul. So it’s kind of a bittersweet ending.
How did you pull off the effects?
A lot of that is attributed to one of the producers, Barney Berman and his team. Barney Warren Oscar for Star Trek and wanted to get into producing and he really has the know-how of how all these things work, he was the head makeup effects designer. Ian Cromer was our main onset guy and Frank Langley did all the puppeteering. They learned from the best in Barney, so they know how to get things done and make it look great.
Did you come up with the kills featured?
Yeah, I knew to grab the audience right away we had to do something kind of surprising. So yeah I did come up with a lot of the deaths, it was a low-budget so there actually were many more and much more gruesome deaths that I wanted to shoot but you have to pick and choose your battles.
Considering the tight schedule was there anything that you couldn’t do, one real standout death or what have you?
There’s one with the Duane character that had really gruesome death. His final arc in the movie ends with his death through the bed. He’s kind of a selfish character throughout so why in his final arc for him to save Bree. I want him to take on happy man and die in the process. I was going to have happy man stab him and then plugged his eyes out so then he’s running around blind but he still attacks happy man and says run Bree, run! So there would be a heroic, sacrificial quality about him but that was quite a chunk to do. Also everyone got stabbed in the gut. They were all supposed to get stabbed in the mouth but at least I got one mouth stabbing in the beginning. I really wanted to have more gruesome stuff like that, which is kind of weird for a film it’s mostly psychological, but maybe next time.
Shooting in Linda Vista Hospital must’ve been pretty creepy. In closing, is there anything you can tell me about that experience?
It’s supposedly really haunted but it never really got to me except for the second to last day of filming. It was already dark and we were moving things to another place inside Linda Vista. All the lights were turned off and I had to grab something really meaningless, like an apple box from inside the start room. It was really dark and I don’t usually get spooked out, but there were a lot of open doors inside the dark room and a moment hit me like something was looking at me or might pop out. I’m a grown man but in that moment I got the heebie-jeebies and I just grabbed the apple box and ran out of there. When you’ve been working on something with supernatural and spirits for so long, you just can’t help but let it get to you.