Why EXTREMITY And Anthony DiBlasi Need To Be Noticed
I am too young to have witnessed the rise of the traditional "masters of horror." By the time I was born, especially by the time I was full blown in love with horror, the greats had already climbed up the ladder of esteemed director hierarchy. Carpenter, Craven, Hooper; they all existed at this already established expert level.
So for me, it's been a different generation of directors. I have seen the likes of Adam Green, Eli Roth, Karyn Kusama and others come into their own as genre directors and one director every horror fan should definitely have their eyes on is Anthony DiBlasi.
DiBlasi has been on the scene since 2009 with his adaptation of Clive Barker's Dread, a well crafted balance between a psychological and torture horror film. With Dread, DiBlasi would kick off a run of well received and brilliantly crafted films that would explore a wide range of subgenres within horror itself. Dread proved that DiBlasi had the chops to handle something as high caliber as a short story from one of modern days greatest genre authors, not only directing the movie but penning the script as well. It was a great foundation to what would eventually be a solid stable of films.
The next time DiBlasi would sit in the director's chair would be in 2011 with Cassadaga, another horror flick that would borrow some of the familiar torture aspects of his debut Dread but also mixing it up with a quite a bit of the supernatural. Cassadaga is an atmospheric film, based in Cassadaga, FL, which in reality is known as the "psychic capital of the world." DiBlasi was able to flex his director muscle and on top of crafting a tightly constructed horror story also built a wonderful environment, the humid nights of Florida becoming palpable.
With Cassadaga, DiBlasi shows that he has an adept hand with horror. He proves that he can handle balancing multiple genres and in a way that never seems messy or clumsy, as the film is able to neatly delve into the supernatural and some truly horrific body horror as well.
In 2014, Last Shift would creep out and in a few years would become a sleeper hit and a cult classic in the community. Taking place entirely in a police station that is almost completely vacant, DiBlasi smoothly transitions over into a ghost story that carries a terrifying atmosphere about it with some insanely well crafted jump scares. Last Shift has quietly become one of the best ghost stories in the last five years but is easily overlooked because it doesn't feel like your traditional spectral visit. It's not exactly unresolved spirits, it's not exactly demon possession, but instead creates this entirely fresh and entertaining mix of nineties 13 Ghosts-type haunting with a retro seventies throwback interwoven with a cults and self insulated terror. It's stunning how confusing they may sound but how perfectly it plays out.
In his quickest turnaround, Most Likely To Die would drop in 2015. Again, massively overlooked, Most Likely To Die is a throwback to slashers that never leans too heavily on nostalgia to carry the film. The synthwave soundtrack is abandoned but the stereotypes are embraced by wrapping the kills up in the high school superlatives of the cast. It carries the same motif styled killer and kills as an eighties slasher but the same kind of more developed cast and down to earth approach of a nineties teen scream. The killer remains incredibly well designed and memorable with some standout kills and while it is perhaps his most paint-by-the-numbers movie, it helps and doesn't hinder the film as the particular subgenre is well known for sticking to a blueprint. It's easily one of his most slept on movies, and is hard to find, but I encourage you to seek it out and have some fun with it.
Flash forward to now and Dread Central has picked up DiBlasi's newest film, Extremity. If the trailer is any indication, the movie looks like a balls-to-the-wall high adrenaline horror film where DiBlasi is doing what he does best: blending genre. Taking advantage of the boom in immersive horror that has taken the community by storm, Extremity looks at when these scares may perhaps go to far. It's not exactly clear what is happening but one thing is for sure: it looks like an insane trip and a bloody good time. From the sneak peek alone, it's easy to see that DiBlasi may be at his most comfortable behind the camera and performing at his highest peak so far. The movie seems slick, tense, and on the bleeding edge of cool and chilling. Before the trailer was released, I was excited, but now i'm thrilled.
Most of all, I'm excited for Extremity because DiBlasi is a consistent and ever evolving director. It's a big statement but his style and eclectic filmography (he even has a made-for-tv Gossip Girl style adaptation of Wuthering Heights and a stalker thriller in between projects) remind me a lot of two other legendary directors, Wes Craven and John Carpenter. DiBlasi embraces his strengths but never uses them as a crutch, instead utilizing them to push himself onwards and upwards. Just as Carpenter and Craven recognized the importance of branching into different genres and styles, DiBlasi explores his range and rarely (if ever) has failed.
Everything about DiBlasi is exciting. His triumph over every genre he's explored, his cinematic trajectory, the fact that his writing is as smooth and competent as his directing. He's been under the radar for too long but Extremity is going to cause him to explode onto the scene in a big way, we're confident of that.
Check the trailer below and look forward to DiBlasi's newest movie, headed to a limited theatrical run before hitting blu and VOD next month on October 2nd.