5 August 2023

Horror film set to have a very happy ending for young cast and crew

| Sally Hopman
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Horror film stars

Cast and crew of Puzzle Box, a new joint Canberra/Sydney horror film that has already been selected for a world premiere in the United States. Photo: Supplied.

It might have been filmed in a record eight days at a cost of only $20,000, but Puzzle Box, a joint Canberra/Sydney horror film, has already proven a hit.

The film, which was only completed last month, has been invited to hold its world premiere at a film festival in the United States.

Puzzle Box, the second film for former Canberra director Jack Dignan, who is now based in Sydney, will open the Popcorn Frights Film Festival, in Florida on 12 August.

It’s a coup for the young cast and crew who funded the project themselves and managed to shoot it in record time with many of the actors filming the scenes that they’re not in.

“There is a strong Canberra connection with this film,” Jack said. “We filmed in Canberra back in March and some of the actors are from Canberra. It is also a film I’ve probably felt the closest to with such a great cast and crew.

“When the Florida people asked to see the film, we could only send them a cut because it wasn’t finished then. But they seemed to like what we sent them … although it was still a work in progress.”

The film features Canberra actors Kaitlyn Boye, Janelle McMenamin and Hazel Pompeani. It tells the story of drug addict Kait who flees to a house in the woods to self-rehabilitate. Her sister Olivia joins her to document the process, but as the house’s layout begins to change, the two are trapped inside in an inescapable puzzle box.

“I’ve always loved working in the horror genre,” Jack said. “You can have so much fun with it – and it’s a great way to get away with more than you might be able to in other films.

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“It can get very weird so I can’t wait to see how the audience reacts to it.”

Jack said he was very proud of the film and the way it was put together by cast and crew. “We’re all friends”, he said, “so we work together well.”

He said they started with nothing but had now managed to create something that was set to go all around the globe. Although a distribution deal was yet to be announced, the team was already in talks with global companies.

The cast list includes Jack Dignan (After She Died), Kaitlyn Boye (The Furies), Laneikka Denne (Feminazi), Cassandre Girard (Three Thousand Years of Longing), Janelle McMenamin (Interceptor), Matias Klaver (Risen), Morgan Wright (producer) and Hazel Pompeani in her big-screen debut.

The cast and crew will hold a panel discussion and Q&A at Oz Comic Con when it opens at Exhibition Park in Canberra on 5 and 6 August.

After Florida, it will go on show in other American states and then on to the United Kingdom.

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