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Meet The Adams Family

Updated: Jan 25

“They’re creepy and they’re kooky,

Mysterious and spooky.

They’re altogether ooky…”

Wait a not that Adams Family. We're referring to the low budget independent filmmakers who have been quietly honing their skills and doing their thing for the past decade. If you haven't already heard of Father John, Mother Toby (Poser) and daughters Zelda and Lulu then you better take note because there's a lot of excitement following them wherever they go now. And it looks like they’re definitely going places.

Their latest offering ‘Hellbender’, due for release exclusively on Shudder on Feb 24th, is a coming-of-age story with witchy, demonic undertones and a heavy metal soundtrack (we'll have our review up shortly but we LOVED it) It's a film that truly radiates the family's talent as a unit but also highlights each individual's passion for what they do. Zelda, who turned seventeen during filming of ‘Hellbender’, also co-directed and worked the camera on many of the shots. ‘Hellbender’ premiered at Fantasia Fest last year to very positive reviews.

The family are hard at work shooting their current film entitled ‘When The Devil Roams’ (which currently doesn’t have any release date) and going by their on-set photographs it looks like they are having the time of their lives. This will be their seventh film together under their own production banner Wonder Wheel Productions.

But is working with your immediate family all that it's cracked up to be and how and why did they ever start doing this in the first place?

“I think we've hit our stride as far as working together goes. We've learned how best to talk to each other, and I think we respect each other's visions more than when we started. Sometimes we disagree, but we always shoot things "both ways" and duke it out in the editing to see what works best. It's like a dance we're always getting better at doing together.”

John and Toby initially met at a rock gig in New York City and bonded over their love for punk rock music. After Toby’s acting career started to wane and parts were becoming tough to get, John, a former Gucci and Calvin Klein model who was working gigs in reality TV at the time, expressed an interest in writing and shooting his own films and suggested he and Toby just start making something together. That was approximately 11 years ago and their first film ‘Rumblestrips’ saw Toby playing the part of a mother waiting to be tried for growing marijuana. The film strung together real footage of the family travelling around the US with daughters Lulu and Zelda, who were only 11 and 6 years old at the time. With John directing, they made the narrative of the story fit into and take place wherever they happened to be living at the time .

“John was shooting the entire film (learning and editing as he shot) and we all helped work sound, but by the second film he'd begun teaching the kids and me to use the camera. Now we all love to shoot.”

‘Rumblestrips’ won Best No Budget Feature Film Award at the Berlin Independent Film Festival in 2013. They were up and running. Both daughters were home-schooled and the family began a filmmaking journey together. Their second feature film ‘Knuckle Jack’ put John in front of the camera this time as he plays a thief who is forced to look after his young niece but ends up dragging her along for the ride on some jobs. Zelda gets a fair amount of dialogue and was nominated for her performance at the Maverick Movie Awards. The film picked up the outstanding Achievement Award at the Victoria TX Indie Film Fest.

The family continued to create super low budget genre films for another few years mostly exploring themes of crime, broken families and love. However it was their fifth feature film ‘The Hatred’ that would steer them in a path they remain on today. Having been a fan of the original 'Twilight' film, Zelda suggested they do a project within the realm of horror. Her parents, being self confessed horror fans, loved the idea and the team got to work. Clocking in at just under an hour long, ‘The Hatred’ is a Civil War set ghost story narrated in part and starring Zelda as the only survivor in a needless family slaughter by soldiers desperate for food and water. Zelda, credited as Hatred, prays to God for vengeance but the Devil answers her instead. It’s quite a tonal shift and although it’s still very raw, it’s clear the maturity in filmmaking and writing has improved immensely. It’s helped by the atmospheric snow covered location and chilling visuals. They like to film in the Catskill Mountains close to where they live. The horror genre allows for such an expansive range in creativity and the Adams’ seem to latch onto that. Their next offering is the film that really put them on the map. 'The Deeper You Dig' received rave reviews and a slew of festival selections including London Fright Fest, Fantastic Fest, Sitges and Fantasia Fest. It even got a general release by Arrow Video. Like 'The Hatred', it was bolstered by a slightly larger cast than their earlier films and was another significant step up in both production and creativity.

“One of the more striking and effective horror pictures of recent years” -

In this one Zelda is tragically mowed down by a drunk driver (played by John) who decides to bury her in frozen ground but ends up having to dispose of the body by other grotesque fashions instead. Toby plays the grieving mother who reignites her “psychic touch” with tarot cards, a gift she had previously lost, in an attempt to find her missing daughter. It is a strange blend of early Coen Brothers with a touch of 'Twin Peaks' and lots of supernatural and surreal imagery thrown in. It’s a film that explores the unearthly dimension between life and death and brings its own unique mythology of the occult. In many ways it works as a spiritual sibling to their latest feature film ‘Hellbender’, which debuts exclusively on Shudder February 24th.

And ‘Hellbender’ is definitely not one you want to miss out on. The Adams’ mean business and are a breath of fresh air. Their passion for storytelling, while clearly limited by their budgets, actually still feels completely and utterly boundless.

- Gavin Logan

*Images pulled from the official Adams Family Instagram and used with permission

*Quotes pulled from an interview with The Horror Channel


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