It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Robert Pattinson. Since Twilight wrapped in 2012, the actor has been pretty quiet. His last starring role was in a small indie in 2014 called Good Time, and he hasn’t done much since. We thought he would retire from acting, but then his name appeared on the call sheet of the upcoming horror movie BTS. We knew immediately that he would be playing a young version of the legendary Jekyll. The movie marks the directorial debut of Michael Wolk, and it’s one of the most highly anticipated horror movies of 2020. We got the chance to talk to Michael Wolk about Robert Pattinson’s involvement in the project, and he told us a bit about his inspiration for the character and the challenges he faced while making the film.

The Inspiration For The Character

For Michael Wolk, the opportunity to work with Robert Pattinson was too good to pass up. The director had seen the actors’ work in movies and on TV, particularly in the miniseries Anima, which he described as “phenomenal.” Anima is based on the novel The House of the Scorpion by Clive Barker, and it was written and directed by Mark Linn-Baker. In the story, three children, who have inherited their father’s psychic powers, must band together to save their family and escape the murderous influence of their uncle. Anima is one of the rare movies that explores the idea of generational trauma, and it’s considered one of the best vampire movies ever made. Linn-Baker directed four episodes of the show, and he also played the role of the uncle. When Wolk heard that Linn-Baker was directing an episode of Anima, he knew he had to have Robert Pattinson in his movie.

“Michael Wolk is one of the most important young talents in horror today,” Barker said. “He understands the language of film, and he understands vampires. He has created an amazing world in his film.”

Barker is correct. Wolk’s film is an absolute masterpiece. The world he creates is remarkably detailed and full of life, despite being entirely made of puppets. Wolk draws on his experience as a puppeteer, and he gives every character he creates a sense of presence. The look of the creatures is incredible, and they all speak with a perfect English accent rather than simply saying “boo.” There are also scenes in the film where the creatures are terrifyingly lifelike, and they do horrifying things that make you jump. It is genuinely scary, and it’s also very funny. The performances are all superb, and they make you care about the characters even when they’re being gruesomely murdered.

The Challenge Of Re-creating Vampires

As great as the characters are in Wolk’s film, it’s difficult to argue that they’re not influenced by current events. The movie deals with the rise of populism, and it also touches on social media and the influence it has on people. One of the most powerful images in the film is a screenshot from Twitter, where all the characters are openly posting about the horrors of being a vampire.

There is a scene in BTS where one of the characters is sitting at a table with her laptop, and she is frantically refreshing her Twitter feed as she anxiously awaits a response from a supposed admirer. The image is eerily reminiscent of the real-life role that social media played in the 2016 US presidential election. It’s also a sharp commentary on the influence that social media has on our lives today. When you put the works of William Burroughs, H.P. Lovecraft, and Clive Barker together, and add a bit of social commentary, you have a recipe for great horror.

Making A Difference

Even more impressive is that BTS is only Wolk’s second feature-length film. His first was a short independent film called Night School, which he wrote and directed in 2016. That movie was inspired by the true story of the first openly gay high school basketball coach in America, who had to overcome a lot of opposition to integrate his own beliefs into his practice — not to mention the fact that he was a teenage coach coaching a team made up of mostly teenage boys. In Night School, the team was required to bring in a “chaperone” at all times, largely due to the nature of their opposition. In one particularly moving scene, the lead character, who is played by Charlie Day, makes a speech to his team about how they must ignore their differences and work together to prove everyone wrong. It’s a powerful message for any age group, and it’s also the perfect encapsulation of what it means to be an effective, open-minded team player.

The Making Of BTS

BTS stands for “Before the Trailer Season,” and that aptly describes the movie. It was shot on a fairly low budget — around $25,000 — and it was made available online for free for some time after its theatrical release. It was later pulled from online shelves, and that’s probably a good thing, since it means people are more likely to see it in the theaters. Otherwise, it would be easy for BTS to be drowned out by the volume of new content being uploaded every day to social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. It’s also one of the very first films to be released in 4K — and it shows. The image is incredibly sharp and vivid, just like the performances were. There are no artificial lighting techniques employed, and everything appears to be picked up by the cameras with natural light. It’s a beautiful film to watch and, above all, to play in. If you’ve got the budget for 4K, then you have the budget for BTS.

The Future

Barker is optimistic about the future of horror. “The only thing that stops a world tour is a bad case of food poisoning,” he said. Given that he is now 82 years old, it probably won’t be long before he is able to fulfill that prophecy. Horror will never die, and it will live on in the work of visionary filmmakers like Michael Wolk.