Wayne Kramer Expects the Audience to Interact with Running Scared: Ive always said that this film is very interactive. Ive been to a couple of audience screenings and I can tell you the beats where they start like talking back to the screen. The whole pedophile scene, you can just start to feel sort of the anxiety building and sort of the silent chanting which then becomes vocal like, Do it, do it. Do it! You know what I mean?
I totally miss these kinds of movies that are these visceral, adrenaline rush experiences because Hollywood has become about the PG-13 watered-down film. And I remember growing up and seeing The Warriors and even 48 Hours was a tough movie. You know, we think of it more as comedic today but that was R rated, just for the language itself. And the Peckinpah stuff and Scarface, which is a classic. And I felt like the momentum of a movie like Carlitos Way, you know having to make it through the night and stuff like that. Dirty Harry
Running Scared also shares a similar tone to Charles Bronsons work. Oh yeah. Its definitely got a Charles Bronson vibe. I dont want to sound cheesy at all here when I mention this example of a movie that kind of seemed like wired through my brain on a subconscious level, but it was a Steven Seagal movie, Out for Justice, you know where it takes place over the course of a night and hes got to find the guy whos killed his buddy. Ill tell you, that is a bad a** movie - that movie. To me that was the last like really real movie he made. They called it Out for Justice but I remember that movies original title was The Price of Our Blood. I thought that would have been a much better title.
Wayne Kramer on Casting the Kids and the Films Tone: I knew it was going to be challenging to find the right kids to be believable because if the kids did not work, I mean if it turned into Project Greenlight or something, the movie would fall apart. And initially the challenge is, Is any parent out there going to let their kid do this movie? It turned out there were a lot of them. The parents also understood that we were not going for something exploitive in a sense that the kid was going to be uncomfortable. Even the most controversial scene in the film you never see anyone touch a kid. You dont see a kid without their clothes on. Its really implied but the tone is there.
Its gritty and its dark and these kids are thrown into a violent, Grimms fairy tale nightmare. And I thought that played really well. The subtext became more apparent to me as I was heading towards production. I said to myself one day, You know what Ive got here? Its a Grimms fairy tale canvas. Like the pimp is the Mad Hatter and the hooker is the Blue Fairy. The Dez and Edele house is the gingerbread house and theyre the witches. I tried to evoke that with like the silhouettes in the window in the bathroom. The music... All of it is very hallucinogenic. And using hand crank cameras to accentuate moments of tension and violence and just the color palettes.
My cinematographer James Whitaker, who worked with me on The Cooler too, I just think he does an amazing job in creating this bruised look to the film. Like these damaged characters that populate this universe. But if you did not get any of that subtext, I think you still enjoy it as a straight mob thriller if youre a fan of the genre. We do try to tie it together with the animated title sequence at the end where it takes you back through moments of the film, but this time in a very overtly Grimms painted way.
Wayne Kramer Allowed His Actors Freedom with the Script: Well thats the thing. As a writer/director, once I put on the directors hat then Im the director and Im going to do whats best for the scene so I do give my actors a lot of leeway. When I want them to stick to a very particular line, I will emphasize that. But you dont get a really from the gut kind of performance if you try to restrain them. One of the things about this film is that its a crazy primal scream and if you set actors loose with no brakes, youre going to get the level of profanity, you know? I mean it was a pretty profane script to start with but I think it doubled on screen and thats because Im not stepping in there in moments of extreme tension or anger and saying, Youve got to dial it down. I just want them to go with what comes out. The film is exhausting and intense and Paul goes to such lengths but thats because I was never putting the brakes on him.
It was funny. There was an actress in a scene who came to me and said she was wearing a night dress or a gown or something and she said, You know, is it a problem if my nipples are showing from beneath here? And I said, No. Why would that be a problem? Theyre so used to doing PG-13 movies where thats such a consideration.