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This Way to Egress: Monster Performances

Director David Slade speaks with Monster Ron (Ezra Buzzington) over lunch during the filming of “This Way to Egress.”

[This is the fifth in a series of posts on the filming of the “This Way to Egress” segment of  Nightmare Cinema. The film is available for free on Freevee and Tubi or to rent or own on Amazon, Apple, and  Vudu.

Creating the monsters in “This Way to Egress” was a team effort. Starting with actors Ezra Buzzington, Adam Godley, and Bronwyn Mo, who imbued the creatures with emotions ranging from cruel indifference to reptilian malice, and continuing with elaborate, whole-head prosthetics crafted by Vincent Van Dyke Effects (who also created the model for Dr. Salvador’s exploding head). Additionally, Jo Willem’s black-and-white cinematography and digital enhancements by Trimaran VFX added shadows and textures that gave the creatures the weight of reality.

In an interview on Horror News Radio, Director David Slade spoke of the importance of imbuing the fantastic with a sense of truth. “I wanted you to believe everything,” he said, and the performances of his actors certainly went a long way to helping him achieve that.

Bronwyn Mo with a photo of the transformed receptionist.

Notable among those performances is that of Bronwyn Mo, whose cool indifference in the opening scene conveys a sense of coiled aggression, like a snake in a receptionist’s skin. Even before makeup, prosthetics, and digital effects alter her appearance, her performance conveys a sense of the alien.

Likewise, there is something distinctly otherworldy about Adam Godley’s Dr. Salvador when we first see him seated in his office. And later, fitted with prosthetics, he delivers a transformation that is achieved as much through body language as it is through practical and digital effects. Consider how he appears in his final scene, posed before a blasted city, head cocked condescendingly to one side, scowling as he looks down at Helen through a swirl of digital ash.

Adam Godley in full prosthetic makeup talks with Elizabeth Reaser before filming the climactic scene in Dr. Salvador’s office.

And then there is Ezra Buzzington in the dual roles of Ron and Mitch, the janitors that Helen encounters as she searches for her children in the labyrinthian office building. Though we never see him in human form, there is something humane in his portrayal of Mitch as he passes Helen in one of the building’s long, grimy corridors. He seems almost sorry for her, a quality that sets Mitch apart from sibling Ron, who seems eager for her to simply get on with it, use her “ticket out,” and let him get back to spreading sludge.

Mitch the Janitor (Ezra Buzzington) on one of the mini-lobby cards displayed at the film’s LA premiere. Mitch is also featured as the dominant image on the back of the DVD and Blu-Ray case.

The recent documentary Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster (2021) makes a point of showing how the creature effects in James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931) owed as much to Karloff’s performance as it did to the iconic makeup designed by Jack Pierce. The bolts, scars, and box-shaped head may have defined the look. But it was Karloff’s soulful eyes, sunken cheeks, and shuffling gait that made it believable.

I contend something similar results from the actors playing the monsters in “Egress.” Need proof? Check out the clip below featuring Elizabeth Reiser’s Helen encountering Bronwyn Mo’s transformed receptionist outside Dr. Salvador’s office.

“Going down?”

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