Nothing Is Impenetrable: Creating Evil Paradise
DeMonaco and the producers assembled a stellar
below-the-line team to bring their vision to life.
Production designer Melanie Paizis-Jones crafted the
looks for the Sandin home, while director of photo-
graphy Jacques Jouffret was tasked with capturing the
perfect moments during the brief shooting schedule for
Peter Gvozdas to edit. Rounding out the key team leads,
costume designer Lisa Norcia and composer Nathan
Whitehead knew they would have to put their expertise
in the genre to quick work to hit their deadlines due to
the tight production schedule.
Finding the home that would provide the desired
focal point of forced entry on the night of The Purge
was a daunting task for the crew. DeMonaco begins:
"It was hard to find the kind of house I wanted in Los
Angeles. I didn't want it
to look like L.A. I wanted
it to look like middle
America and to represent
the type of 'new rich' in
America that would be
happening at this point."
Fuller agrees that it
was a challenge, particularly for production
The producer says: "We
all recognize the house
is the star of the film,
and we searched for a
long time before we
finally found this house in Chatsworth, California.
At first we weren't able to make a deal with the
owner, but after a lot of discussion, we decided to
shorten our shooting schedule in order to be able
to afford this house."
As the home plays a large role in the thriller, it had
to be perfect, inside and out. Blum notes: "Our locations
are very important in our movies because most of the
films occur in one place. What made this house ideal
was that it was extremely relatable. It's about 10,000
square feet, but houses that size are often tacky and this
wasn't. That was a very compelling thing about it: You
could relate to people actually living in it."
One of the house's most disturbing occupants
also serves as our guide through it. Charlie's home-
made sidekick, a remote-controlled doll-tank hybrid
named Timmy, was a set prop that cast and crew
alike loved. The audience's POV throughout much
of the movie, Timmy serves as a voyeur into the
terrifying night. Remarks Blum: "Timmy was clever
on James' part. People are used to seeing media in
very different places, and that part of the movie
plays into our being surrounded by it. I loved the
idea that you would have a remote-controlled tank
that would take images from around the house and
you could use that to see everything."
Considering that the film is set a mere nine years
in the future, costume designer Norcia wanted to make
sure the colors and designs weren't too futuristic for
the characters, yet still had a dystopic sensibility. She
recounts: "The project came to life for me, and I started
having my version of what it would look and sound like.
A week later, I met with James to go over my vision,
and we were very similar in how we saw things."
For the part of James, the designer decided on the
classic pinstripe. "He wears the conservative dad shirt
that's never going to go out of style," Norcia continues.
The inspiration for Headey's Mary was an upper-class
conservative, but simply dressed, mother.
Alternately, a Catholic schoolgirl came to mind
when Norcia was designing for Kane's Zoey. She offers:
"We wanted to keep Zoey in that uniform to show her
vulnerability throughout The Purge. It was important
to keep her very innocent because that's how her father
still sees her."
When imagining the costumes for Burkholder's
Charlie, Norcia was all about layers. She notes: "He does
the layering pieces of the grays and the whites, so that he
would fit in, but he is the character that has a conscience
and is scared of what
was happening out in
the world. Those layers
are his shields, his personal armor."
masks for the violent
Freaks was the most fun
for Norcia. She relays:
"When we started out
with the Freaks, we had
these ideas that they
were all going to be
unique and scary. That was all well and good in theory,
but we ended up going through more than 100 different
masks and couldn't settle on anything."
Finally, they came up with a very simple female
mask, and it worked beautifully. Concludes the
director: "We dressed the Freaks like they were going
out for Halloween in these scary costumes, and they
are dressed to kill. We put these female masks on them
and had them carrying axes and machetes and machine
guns. The whole thing is very macabre."
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