As if coming out of the closet were not daunting enough, Canadian filmmaker Robbie Lemieux amps up the fear factor in his feature debut, “Fester.”
A participant in the Frontières Co-Production Market, run by the Fantasia International Film Festival alongside Cannes’ Marché du Film, “Fester” is not your average coming-out story.
“Writing ‘Fester’ was essentially a way to process why it had been so difficult for me to come out. I also wanted to tell a story about someone who is afraid of coming out for reasons that aren’t centered around the narrative tropes we so often see in coming-out dramas such as homophobic communities/families, religion, or other oppressive external obstacles,” said Lemieux.
“Like the main character, I grew up in an accepting family, went to college in New York, and was surrounded by diverse and inclusive friends – yet, I still struggled tremendously to understand and accept myself,” he continued, adding: “It feels like these days, especially in liberal circles, everyone is supposed to be comfortable with their sexuality. But coming out can still be difficult and scary.”
Lemieux explores this dilemma in “Fester” where his lead character must focus on “the internal barriers he puts up for himself – barriers he will need to overcome on his road to self-acceptance,” he explained.
“Fester” revolves around 25-year old Benjy who shares his New York apartment with his best friend, Amy. His life begins to unravel when she moves out and a new roommate moves in. His presence has an unsettling effect on Benjy whose unease manifests itself in alarming changes to his body and mind. As its synopsis goes, “his body comes apart in grotesque ways — rotting from the inside out as if something is festering within him.”
As his life continues to spiral out of control, he is forced to accept that the real source of his troubles is his own sexual repression and that he has to face his own demons to “finally live his truth.”
“Festers” is still in early development and seeks one or more producers to collaborate with, as well as equity partners, casting agents, sales agents and distribution partners.
“We don’t think we’ve seen a horror film that so explicitly deals with coming-out and sexual repression like this, so we hope this can be the first — or at least another entry in the emotional, character-driven horror space, along with recent films like ‘Saint Maud,’ ‘Midsommar,’ ‘Hereditary,’ ‘Relic’…,” said Lemieux.
“Audiences come to horror movies with the expectation of being pushed in some way, so I think that allows for exploring challenging subjects unflinchingly. I hope to make horror films that are just as complex, emotional and moving as they are scary,” he added.