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Merry Christmas! A word on The Shelter and its Christianity inspired subtext!

“Can almost be labeled as a faith-based thriller. But with the subjects of infidelity, alcoholism, suicide coupled with open sex scenes, violence, and touches of horror, this unusual mix with its strength in faith delivers a taboo of sorts to a non-secular audience. ” – The Movie Guys

With Christmas upon us, and this being most likely my last The Shelter related piece on this Blog (locking some outstanding territories aside, the adventure is pretty much done), I figured this was an ideal time to address the Christianity inspired elements of the picture.

Much of the self-loathing, anger and selfishness that I had in my 20’s tagged with my Catholic upbringing and my rocky relationship with it back then went into the writing of The Shelter.  That is why it is such a personal film for me. Although I have since conquered those demons and I am now in a place of peace, I re-visited that time frame to pen the film.

Now the movie was marketed to the horror crowd for the most part upon its release, with good reasons. It’s a bleak ride and the genre elements are there, and yes, many have gotten something out of it no matter their beliefs (except for the random person who felt preached to – you do a film about demons, all good, you explore the flip side – you’re preaching – go figure).

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But I do think that people of Faith should see it too, even those who don’t normally like genre films (it’s now free on Amazon Prime) hence the main reason that I am writing this blog entry. Granted the movie is rough in places and it’s definitely not a “family movie” (don’t show the kids), but I think if you’re Christian, you should give it a try as its themes and its message should resonate with you.   To give you an idea The Shelter is akin to Book of Job from the Old Testament. That was one parallel that I was going for (you can learn more background on the ins and outs of the film via the Audio Commentary on the DVD).

In closing, I’ve recently come the realization that The Shelter was basically my “message in a bottle” to the world. My intent was to move, stimulate and make the viewer think and I was so blessed to have Michael Pare in the lead to help me convey that.  To be honest, the most rewarding reaction that came out of making the film has been the people that reached out to me after seeing it in person or online to let me know how it moved them or urged them to look at themselves, look at their Faith or at their past mistakes. It touched me that the film touched others.  All I needed.

Here are some quotes from some of The Shelter reviews that tapped into the Christianity laced meat of the film. Click the links to read the reviews! And if you do wind up seeing it because of this Blog entry, I truly hope that it stirs you one way or another. And if you hate it, that is okay too. Merry Christmas!

the-sheter-333THE SHELTER FREE ON AMAZON PRIME! DVD AND MORE OPTIONS HERE!

“Like Book of Job from the bible, Thomas is tested through supernatural signs that lead him to an emotional place in his heart he’s learnt to hide from. It’s an uncomfortable watch as real become unreal, but because it’s what Thomas desires he goes with the flow. And then the faucet of all that he wanted is turned off. ” – Britflick

“The Shelter swirls Christianity and Silent Hill-levels of guilt to torment its protagonist, and Fallon’s strong visual style combines with a very strong turn from Pare to good effect.” – Sci Fi Now

“The neon lights become the power of Christ and his need to beg forgiveness jostles with memories that aren’t allowed to fade.”  – Starbust Magazine

“The film’s religious undertones remain apparent but they never feel overly preachy and, surprisingly and cleverly, draw out whatever spirituality we believe in, making Fallon’s intentions feel relevant to us in our own particular way.” – Scream Horror Mag

“There are a lot of religious references, as well as dreamy sequences bathed in light, where we are not quite sure whether to believe what we are seeing, or if it is merely a product of Thomas’ mind.” – Movieramblings

“The beauty of Fallon’s cinematic Lament Configuration is that through extensive use of religious iconography and flashbacks that offer suggestions as to how Thomas found himself in this predicament, there are multiple conclusions that the viewer may come to, and with Fallon wisely refusing to offer his own explanation of the film’s meaning it enables the viewer to take their own unique experience with them.” – This is Horror

“Filled to the rafters with religious iconography; statues of Jesus Christ, copies of the Bible and crucifixes of ever schism, are littered everywhere you care to look. The talismans represent Thomas’ need forgiveness, but he’s a stubborn man.” – The Hollywood News

“Blending elements of spirituality, horror and redemption within the faith based storytelling, you see a very complete film in THE SHELTER.” – Tom Holland Terror Time.

“God’s not explicitly mentioned, but even a lapsed Catholic or staunch atheist will get the feeling going into the final act and after the credits roll that someone, not of this world, can and will put you out of your misery… if you’ve given up.” – Britflick

“The Shelter is Bad Lieutenant meets The Last Temptation of Christ” – Julien Dunand (Producer/We Blew It)

The Shelter Taiwan Poster!

THE SHELTER FREE ON AMAZON PRIME! DVD AND MORE OPTIONS HERE!

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Three ways The Shelter experience has changed me…

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As you may know my directorial debut THE SHELTER has locked domestic distribution and will be released in North America this coming November in theaters and on VOD via Uncork’d Entertainment. I haven’t commented about it here yet, because being that this is my Personal Blog, I wanted to wait until I had something further to say than “ We locked it, thanks to everybody who helped make the film happen and everybody who supported me” (which I do earnestly mean by the way). So I finally came up with something. Here are three ways how the challenge that was THE SHELTER has bettered me as a person.

Producing: When it’s “your movie” and you’re responsible for everything, even other people’s mistakes that go down under your watch – it’s an all new ball game. I had co-produced before on other people’s movies, mostly pre-prod/prod stuff,  but that was NOTHING compared to what I had to go through on this one. Once the shoot was done it was obstacle after obstacle after obstacle and to say I learned so much the hard way would be an understatement. As I type this, 2 years since we wrapped, I’m still going through hurdles when it comes to the bureaucratic nature of making a film (Note: hurdles have since been conquered). On that, even though I wasn’t smiling the countless times I got kicked in the face for the last two years, I can now safely say that I am happy all of these challenges went down as I will bring that knowledge and a stronger shield to my next picture. Every director should know the ins and outs of producing a film IMO – you got to understand the machine fully to operate it to its max! So although it put me through the ringer, almost broke me and tested my tolerance level like mad – the knowledge I got out of this experience was priceless. They didn’t teach me that shit in film school that’s for sure! And yes I have an all-new respect for the Producers of the world.

On set talking a scene out with Michael Pare.
On set talking a scene out with Michael Pare.

Change of reaction: One can be strong, but after taking hit after hit after hit, you start to lower you gloves and begin to react to curve balls in a bitter and discouraged fashion. Through making The Shelter, I had to learn to “roll with it”, to see the positive in the negative “like gaining knowledge by way of hardships” and to have faith that every misstep, every sucker punch was for a greater good that maybe I didn’t see at the time. The amount of Festivals that turned me down, people who I thought would back me up but didn’t, the two forward – ten steps back rinse and repeat routine – I was focusing on that drivel instead of: The Festivals that did take us on, the people that have been there with me through thick and thin or the progress (no matter how little) that was achieved. So I am grateful for that, as that change in “reaction” is now something that I try to apply in my everyday life. I’m not perfect at it just yet, I slip now and again, but I am now even more self aware, hence when I get hit, I make a conscious choice to try to NOT react in a negative way, to take it on the chin and to see the positive within the dire situation instead. Looking back, getting discouraged or bitter only made the battle harder than it already was – nothing was gained from reacting in that fashion. NOTHING. Lesson learned and applying it is still a work in progress. One thing is for sure, I am a much stronger and evened out person due to it.

Spirituality: I was raised Catholic for the bulk of my life – had to pray at school – all that jive.  But my problem with organized religion has always been the evil that men did in its name (and in terms of Christianity, totally negating what Christ was all about in the process, but that’s another convo). Hence, none of it is black and white for me – it’s grey. THE SHELTER sent me on a new route though. Being that the film does sport Biblical inspired elements; I did lots of research on the subject matter. Through that, I became fascinated with the history behind it all; hence I started devouring books outside of the usual tomes, like the Hebrew Bible for example or the writings I could find by the “Church Fathers” (ancient Christian writers also known as the Apostolic Fathers). Today, when I travel (specially in Europe), I visit old churches and am completely fascinated as to the beauty before me and the history behind said locations. The many texts that I have since been introduced to coupled with the countless left field happenings that befell me throughout the writing and post production process has guided me a in a direction i.e. what works for me spiritually – my own path if you will. And it’s a trip to walk it!  At the same time, I now have a new kind of hobby and I am having lots of fun researching and discovering.

And that’s pretty much it, what I have gained from all of this thus far. It’s been a rock and roll two years that’s for sure! Thanks for reading! John

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The Shelter at Sitges, varied interviews and reviews!

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A lot has been going on in terms of my directorial debut THE SHELTER since its FRIGHTFEST screening (read all about that and see the reviews here). And hey I’m not complaining! Here we go!

-The film will be screening at the prestigious SITGES FILM FESTIVAL on October 9th at 8:00PM at the Retiro as part of the Panorama Fantastic section! I will be there to present it. The last time I was in Sitges was as press for AITH in 2010. I promised myself then I wouldn’t go back unless I had my first feature as a director under my belt – so there ya have it!

More press on the film surfaced:

-I talked about the film with SCI FI NOW HERE!
-Talked with THIS IS HORROR about the film HERE!
HORRORNEWS and I had a chat about the movie HERE!
-I had a “deep” chat about the film and spirituality with STARBURST MAGAZINE HERE
-I yapped with HORRORTALK.COM about the flick HERE.
-The Shelter star Michael Pare was interviewed by HORRORNEWS.NET HERE
while his genre career was dissected on my site AITH HERE.

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-Finally HORRORTALK gave it a semi conflicted review HERE and the UK genre site THIS IS HORROR covered it too! Here is an excerpt:

“The Shelter is pretty much a one man vehicle for Michael Pare who is never anything but captivating as he owns the screen. It’s not easy to hold an audience’s attention for an entire movie, but the combinations of Pare’s experience as an actor and Fallon’s energy, vision and storytelling style  is both entrancing and intoxicating.For those who are prepared to engage with it The Shelter will run deep and resonate within for a long time after the credits have rolled.” Read the entire review HERE!

So that’s it for now! Lots of hustling and strategizing on my end in the name of getting the film where it needs to be. Posing lots of actions, not always getting the intended reactions – but that’s the nature of the beast. I just keep forging forward man, with faith that through perseverance, the movie will be where it needs to be at the end of this journey. THE SHELTER is a HUGE chunk of my life right now. Huge.

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I know more press about the film will arise in due time, more Festival screenings are up in the air and I am also hoping that the Sitges screening will be a good push for the picture in terms of it finding a home ( for distribution inquiries, e-mail us here ).  I’ll keep keeping you all in the loop as always! Please keep tabs on the film via the Official The Shelter blog (we’re having cast and crew QNA’s pop up there at random) and the FB page!

Again, a big thank you to those of you who have are still supporting me and the film. Cheers and God bless! John

PS: Here’s a behind the scenes shot from The Shelter. Why? Why not!? 🙂

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Making sure the noose is nice and comfy for star Michael Pare!
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