Columbia home stars in national horror film, 'You're Next'

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:33 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 11, 2013

COLUMBIA — A scream rattles the quiet Columbia street.

A woman in heels charges out the front door of a stately, five-bedroom home, weeping hysterically and begging for help. Neighbors peer out of their windows.

A director screams "cut," and the street falls silent. Another scene for the film "You're Next" wraps up.

"You're Next," released nationally in theaters Aug. 23, is the third horror movie filmed in Columbia by filmmakers that once called the city home. The movie was filmed two and a half years ago.

In addition to being home to many of those involved with the film, shooting the movie in Columbia allowed the filmmakers to work with an enthusiastic and supportive community while maximizing their budget.

Director Adam Wingard and screenwriter and Columbia native Simon Barrett had previously filmed scenes for the horror film "V/H/S" and all of "A Horrible Way to Die" in Columbia. Andrew Droz Palermo worked as the cinematographer for "V/H/S"and "You're Next." Droz Palermo grew up in Jefferson City and spent time living in Columbia.

Brock Williams, of the Columbia-based production company Boxcar Films, co-produced "You're Next."

Droz Palermo said after filming "A Horrible Way to Die," Wingard and Barrett looked to Columbia to make their next film.

Shot in a five-bedroom, English-style house on the north side of the city, "You're Next" follows a wealthy family gathered to reunite and celebrate the parents' anniversary amid troubling secrets. Crossbow-wielding intruders interrupt the family dinner, terrorizing all in attendance as they are forced to spend the night fighting for their lives.

"You're Next" premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sept. 10, 2011. Following that premiere, Lionsgate acquired the distribution rights to the film.

More bang for your buck

Filming in Columbia allowed the team to stretch its budget further than they could in a larger city, Williams said.

"You could stretch a dollar here a lot better," Williams said. "With 'You're Next,' we were able to take under a million dollars and make a film that looks like it cost two or three million dollars."  

For Droz Palermo, making a movie in Columbia proved starkly — and refreshingly — different from the scene in Los Angeles, where he's currently editing his next film, "Rich Hill."

"People are excited about filmmaking in Columbia. In L.A., it's just a way to make money. People are so exposed to filmmaking that it's not special there anymore," Droz Palermo said.

The filmmakers said they were welcomed by the Columbia community.

Gladys Allen owned the home that "You're Next" was filmed in during production. Droz Palermo described her as "the on-set grandma." 

"We would have dead bodies and fake blood all over the house, and you'd see Gladys stop by set to say 'hi,' and you would just want to apologize," Droz Palermo said.

Columbia resident Mary Still currently lives near the home "You're Next" was filmed in.

"We would wake up in the middle of the night and see a lot of action on set," Still said. "We thought it was a lot of fun. You would hear shouts and screams in the middle of the night." 

Columbia residents made up much of the crew for both "A Horrible Way to Die" and "You're Next." 

"Everybody who worked in the film industry in Columbia ended up getting involved with 'You're Next.' It's a pretty small community, and we needed a lot of help," Williams said. 

Former Columbia resident Taylor Glascock worked as the set photographer for both "A Horrible Way to Die" and "You're Next." An MU student at the time, Glascock described how after shoots, the cast and crew would often go out together to the now closed bar, Peppers. 

"It was crazy to see the actors on screen fighting and covered in fake blood. I sang karaoke with those guys," Glascock said.

Shooting for "You're Next" took place at night, often lasting 12 hours a session. Spending so much time cooped up together in the house led to the team becoming extremely close.

"Seeing 'You're Next' in theaters brought back a wave of memories," Glascock said. "We were trapped in that house for a month. We became like a big, dysfunctional family — kind of like the family in the movie."

For Williams, the international release of "You're Next" means that audiences worldwide can see both the crew's hard work and Columbia on the silver screen. 

"My cousin moved to Paris," Williams said. "He called me the other day to tell me that there are billboards for 'You're Next' in the subways there." 

"You're Next" opened in France on Wednesday and has been released in the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. 

Droz Palermo said he would welcome the idea of returning to Columbia to film another movie and reunite that family.

"I'd love it," Droz Palermo said. "I would love to make another movie in Missouri. It's my home."

Supervising editor is Allie Hinga.

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