Evil never sleeps.. This Halloween season, we have a demonic nun (The Nun II), a possessed child (The Exorcist) murderous animatronic mascots (Five Nights at Freddys), and an evil Jester entity (The Jester) scaring moviegoers.
In case you are unaware, The Jester counts The Blair Witch Project co-creator, Eduardo Sánchez as an executive producers and is based on a series of popular short films that have garnered over 30 million Youtube views (You can watch Chapter 1 here, Chapter 2 here, and Chapter 3 here). The synopsis for the feature reads: After the recent death of their father, two estranged sisters find themselves being stalked by a malevolent being known as The Jester. Revealing himself to be more than just a man in a mask, the evil entity begins to further torment the inhabitants of this small town on Halloween night. The path to defeating this unholy monster lies with the two sisters who realize that the only way to survive is to figure out how to right the wrongs of their dark past.
To learn more about The Jester, we spoke to the film’s writer and director Colin Krawchuk.
Wicked Horror: The Jester is based on a trilogy of short films you created that have over 30 million Youtube views. Why do you think those shorts resonated so much with audiences?
Colin Krawchuk: That’s a good question! We’ve wondered that ourselves. I think it’s a combination of things: The Jester character has a unique aesthetic that’s brighter and louder than his fellow horror antagonists. He also has an attitude that is simultaneously playful and confident. He loves what he does, whether it’s performing lame close-up magic tricks or something more malevolent. I think that’s part of what makes him appealing: He’s unpredictable. He doesn’t hack and slash everyone he comes across. His mysteriousness is what makes each interaction so compelling. I was very adamant about keeping as much of The Jester as we could the same in the feature, because the truth is we don’t know why people love him. And if we try to guess, we might get it wrong. So let’s try to keep him the same as we’ve always known him.
Wicked Horror: Was the success of the shorts just from word of mouth? How did it catch on?
Colin Krawchuk: We didn’t do any special promoting for the shorts. We just uploaded them to our YouTube channel like all our previous projects. Then, after a few weeks, it suddenly had much more traction than anything we’d made before. And every few weeks, it would balloon again, and more and more people found our Jester. I don’t know how it happened. He’s just that charming, I guess.
Wicked Horror: The Jester has all the perfect elements for a horror film. A scary clown, a cemetery scene, a Halloween festival and a person lost in a haunted house. When you were writing the script, were you well aware you wanted to have all these elements in the film or did you decide to add them little by little?
Colin Krawchuk: Some of those elements were added out of necessity. We knew we wanted to use Markoff’s Haunted Forest for shooting, so we worked a Halloween festival into the script to take advantage of that location. The cemetery came naturally from the story, and seemed a good spot to introduce both Emma and JC’s characters. The Jester showing up was a surprising find while writing the script, just to keep things interesting. I like a horror villain that’s not afraid to show up during the day.
Wicked Horror: The Jester mask in the feature is different from the one in the shorts. Where did you find the mask for the feature? Or did you have it specially made for the film?
Colin Krawchuk: The mask was created by Jason Baker specifically for the film. We couldn’t use the original mask from the shorts for licensing reasons, so we took the opportunity to create our own mask that felt similar, but was the “feature-film” version.
Did You Know? Wicked Horror TV Has Classic and Independent Horror Films Available to Stream for Free!
Wicked Horror: Were there any happy unexpected surprises with making The Jester?
Colin Krawchuk: There were certainly unexpected surprises! Now I need to think about which of those were happy! I think the cast was a happy surprise for me. I was really worried about who we were going to find for Emma, and Lelia knocked it out of the park. Her performance breaks my heart, and she made me love Emma even more. There was another unexpected surprise that is both terrible and kind of neat. We had originally cast the part of Liam to someone else, but that actor got sick the day of shooting Liam’s big scene at the festival, and because the budget and schedule were so tight, we couldn’t shift things around. So in an emergency, we cast Mike Sheffield to play the part of Liam. It made for the most difficult night of shooting, but it also is sort of a fun wink to those watching who know Mike is also in The Jester suit, so he’s essentially sitting across from himself.
Wicked Horror: Do you have a favorite scene in the film? Why?
Colin Krawchuk: My favorite scene is maybe the bar scene with the two sisters. I think the two actors in that scene do an outstanding job, and it gives the audience a chance to care about them. My favorite Jester scene is the phone call Emma has with her mom. I think it’s unsettling for Emma to hear her mom say those words to her, and it’s a trick we’ve never seen the Jester do before.
Wicked Horror: Did you learn anything in particular from making The Jester?
Colin Krawchuk: I’m still processing everything I’ve learned from making The Jester! You could do all the research you want prior, but nothing is going to ever teach you more than going out and doing something firsthand. I think one of the main things I learned as director is the importance of clear communication. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. People on set want a goal to try to achieve, and it’s your job to provide them with that. There’s always something to find, you just have to look for it.
Wicked Horror: What about the horror genre intrigues you?
Colin Krawchuk: Horror might be the most malleable of the genres. It can be effortlessly combined with other genres, but it can also transcend budget. Some of the most influential horror films of all time were made on an insanely small budget. Horror doesn’t need to be big in order to be effective. That’s not true for other genres, but horror is special in that way. Horror can be effective in the large sets of a ship in deep space, or in a single bathroom. Horror can be visceral, psychological, existential, supernatural, extraterrestrial, minimal, excessive…horror is kind of magical.
Wicked Horror: What are some of your favorite horror films?
Colin Krawchuk: Alien is one of the first that stuck in my head. The first film that ever had me gripping my seat out of terror but loving it was Signs. I was so along for the ride. One of my favorite films in general is The Thing (1982), and of course, Carpenter’s Halloween. I guess I love the horror films that are more intimate with its characters, more stripped down and simple, with a super compelling antagonist.