F is for Fessenden

There’s one question about Larry Fessenden directing a segment for a Fantastic Fest-related anthology: What took so long?

“I tickled around with VHS right in the beginning,” he said, “but the timing didn’t work. The funny thing about that is that I took it too seriously, and the schedule’s changed.”

“N is for Nexus” proves that VHS‘ loss was ABCs gain. The homage to time-sensitive thriller Run Lola Run returns Fessenden to the concrete and brownstone New York of his early, seminal work, as an ill-fated couple try to meet up on Halloween. It was also a return to his early, zero-budget, guerrilla filmmaking style: “We didn’t really control the streets, so I was constantly going back, saying, ‘Well, I need this one other shot. Well, I’ll just ride my bike really fast through the intersection, and hope I get it.'”

The finished product is a lesson in efficiency as elegance, edited to the microsecond, as he brings the separated lovers, trick or treaters, a cab driver, and a businesswoman together along a tragic trajectory. Fessenden said, “I’m obsessed with chance,” which he called “my basis of horror. There’s also the violent horror, and the psychological thing of people slowly going mad. But there’s this other element, which is about timing and those little things that would affect the convergence, and lead to a terrible, unfortunate mishap. It’s the punchline you know is coming, but you’re not quite sure in which way it will come.”

Fessenden’s segment may be the most loaded with references, from the universal (both Frankenstein’s monster and his bride), and in-jokes for his fans (including a glimpse of the You’re Next masks, and a super-brief cameo by fellow indie horror master JT Petty). There’s a director’s cut that’s around six minutes but, he said, “It’s no better. In fact, it’s not as good, because it was just about torquing the screws.”

There’s only one edit that he almost regrets having to make: “Glen McQuaid, my friend the filmmaker, dressed as a nun, running through a shot. But it actually, believe it or not, slowed things down.”

Article in the Austin Chronicle