Interviews: Director Zoe Kavanagh Talks About The Horror-Actioner Demon Hunter

From Wild Eye Releasing comes Demon Hunter, writer-director Zoe Kavanagh’s “genre hugging” (The Irish Times) horror-actioner, available on VOD August 15.

Underworld meets Buffy in a frenetic slice n’ dice that’s taken home more than 15 awards, including Best Director at the Fright Fest International Film Festival.

“Bring your samurai sword” (Horror Buzz) to the chronicle a young woman, half demon/half human who helps a detective rescue his daughter from a demonic cult.

After she is captured by police for questioning in the slaying of a man she claimed was a demon, Taryn Barker must prove her innocence, and the existence of demons. But when a cult captures the daughter of one of the detectives on the case, the police must trust, and unleash, this warrior on the Satantic group who are intent on bringing an ancient evil force into the world. 

Niamh Hogan, Alan Talbot, Kevin O'Malley, Nic Furlong, Sarah Tapes Jenkinson, and Margarita Grillis star in a film that “keeps on the gas until the credits roll” (Beyond the Gore).

We caught up with Zoe before the film’s bow on Tuesday.

TMS: What are the requirements needed to be a bonafide Demon Hunter and does it come with medical?

ZK: Okay in the mindset of the Demon Hunter.

You need to have gone through same bad times in the past. Something needs to have pushed you out of normality. A dead loved one, maybe even being brutally tortured and surviving a demonic assault.

Pain makes some of us stronger and we use that pain to build and focus our strength. So training full time and being obsessive about your goals. Learning tech and understanding gadgetry. Customizing weapons to fight demonic entities.

Turning off your fear and treating hunting demons as a job with patterns and seeing the evil as just objects to be eliminated. You cut off your fear and look at over powering evil and you can have fun tearing them apart!

You would have to train yourself in First Aid I would say. Maybe steal medical gear from hospitals if you’re working outside of the law.

TMS: In all seriousness, well done! You did this whole movie yourself -well, almost! Tell us what hats you wore on it!?

ZK: A lot of great people worked on this film and if it wasn’t for their talents it wouldn’t have been as awesome! However, when you make a film outside the system with your own cash you have to wear a few hats!

I am the co-writer: I wrote the screenplay with Tony Flynn and we spent two years writing it I would imagine and through that it went through different stages. The director: Brought my visual style and oversaw all aspect of production. The editor: I cut the entire film on Adobe Premiere CC and had Seamus Hanly come in as second eyes and throw some cool ideas into the final cut. A producer: I was one of the many producers on the film and I oversaw every stage of production all the way up to release. Music supervisor: I handpicked all of the artists on the soundtrack to bring the vibe of the world.

TMS: How different would the film had been had Taryn been a male ‘Demon Hunter’? was there ever a version where she was?

ZK: In the film there is other Demon Hunters. There is Ethan, Hall, Downey and Barnes. Those four are male. Taryn and Ethan have the strongest friendship and bond. I never thought or saw a reason to have Taryn as male because she is who she is. When I created her in an illustration she was in an alley with a sword and mourning the death of her sister. That pain and emotion drove me to finding her motivation as a character. She has that strength to fight for what she believes in no matter what gets in the way.

But regarding gender, I don’t think it matters what gender a Demon Hunter is. It all goes down to the character’s background, their development and the arc they journey on. If you can engage an audience and deliver some monster hunting action then win win.

TMS: How did you go about casting the role?

ZK: I put up a casting call on StarNow and on the films Facebook page. We must have had ove a hundred girls wanting to play the role of Taryn Barker, it was overwhelming to say the least. We didn’t have enough time to go through them all but in the end we got lucky with Niamh Hogan as she’s a great talent who not only is a powerful actor but she is a brilliant martial artist.

TMS: Was your actress put through any rigorous training before the shoot?

ZK: Niamh is a Sandan (3rd Degree black belt) in Shotokan karate with years of experience. She trained extensively with the fight director learning the moves for the fights, how to use a dagger, wield a sword and nailing the performance.

TMS: Coolest action heroine of all time?

ZK: Taryn Barker: Demon Hunter! Ha ha of course I’m going to say she is. I guess Ellen Ripley would be. Just watch Aliens and that’s all you need to know about a great action heroine.

TMS: What about today? Any you’ve enjoyed?

ZK: I would say the Resident Evil films are a fun guilty pleasure and I just love Milla Jovovich she’s a badass!

TMS: Who would win in a fight : Taryn Barker or ‘The Bride’?

ZK: Taryn Barker would win as not only is she half demon but she is well versed in technology and is just as good with a sword!