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Jamaican horror film secures US distributor

Published:Monday | November 7, 2022 | 12:07 AMAnthony Turner/Gleaner Writer
Rhett Butler
Rhett Butler
Vereen Fostor in a scene from ‘Nefarious’.
Vereen Fostor in a scene from ‘Nefarious’.
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Over the past 50 years, Jamaica has had success with locally produced movies like The Harder They Come (1972); Smile Orange (1976); Dancehall Queen (1997), Third World Cop (1999); and Shottas (2002), which, for the most part, focused on themes ranging from crime, drama, romance and music.

Rhett Butler, whose interest in storytelling was unearthed after watching the intergalactic movie Star Wars, is looking to shake things up with one of Jamaica’s first locally produced horror films. Nefarious, which was acquired by US distributor Summerhill Films, is expected to be released via a streaming service soon.

“It is a brave new Jamaican film entering a genre locally believed to be untouchable, horror! It’s a genre I grew to love in my later teenage years despite hating it before,” he confessed.

“I strongly believe the intervention by my mother, who introduced me to films like The Exorcist, was instrumental in helping me to overcome my initial fears. Moreover, there are many stories to be told in this genre within our culture.”

Nefarious, which began shooting in 2015, first premiered in Canada at the 15th annual Caribbean Tales Film Festival in 2020. It was eventually featured by Cineplex, Canada.

“Filming was tough as expected and quite taxing,” Butler recalled.

Despite the many challenges, his drive to succeed was inspired by “passion, which provides the impetus for getting the project done,” he told The Gleaner.

The film, which stars Kevoy Williams, Ana-Stassia McLeish and Russell Anderson, was shot entirely in Jamaica and features the parishes of St Andrew, St Ann and Trelawny. Post-production work took about six months for the initial cut of the film, which went through several edits over a two-year period.

Butler, a Jamaica-born, Canada-based producer, said he used Patois to depict Jamaican accents instead of standard English.

“I really wanted it to have not just the look, but the real sound of Jamaica. This obviously comes at a price, with having to use subtitles, but the more one listens, the more one understands and less likely to be reading them,” he shared.

The soundtrack for Nefarious sees contributions from Stacious ( Mr Wrong, Made for Each Other and Number One); Canadian Juno winner Exco Levi ( Breaking the Rules), Versi and Trapycal.

Asked about his expectation for the movie, Butler said his goal is “to show alternative stories and genres originating from Jamaica”.

“Hopefully, others will do the same and explore various areas in film. The island and the Caribbean region have an impressive abundance of untouched talents and materials in this regard.” he informed.

Butler is now working on his second script, which will be co-produced by a Nigerian-Hungarian producer.

entertainment@gleanerjm.com