Scary movie shot in Moose Jaw

Joshua Campbell
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From left: Shane Daly, cinematographer, Jennifer Lynch, director and Damian O'Donnell, screenwriter, pose on the Moose Jaw set of the film Rabbit. Times-Herald photo by Samuel Dobrin.

Beware all Moose Javians! A psychotic, serial-killing cab driver is on the lose and he may be on his way to pick you up.

But don’t worry, it’s only a movie.

Rabbit, directed by Jennifer Lynch and starring Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order) and Julia Ormond (Legends of the Fall), is a psychological thriller about a serial killer (D’Onofrio) who kidnaps and raises a young boy to become his protégé. The boy — played by rising Vancouver star Evan Bird — has to make a decision if he will follow in the killer’s footsteps or hold onto the humanity that he had in his previous life with his parents.

David Buelow, one of the producers of the upcoming thriller (he is joined by Lee Nelson and local producer Rhonda Baker), said the contrast of Moose Jaw and utter “vastness” of the Saskatchewan prairie was ideal for crafting the film.

“We needed a really remote house that would be on the edge of town,” he said. “Creatively, this was exactly what we were looking for.”

Buelow hopes the film will attract a wide audience.

“It’s a psychological thriller, not a horror movie,” said Buelow, who has produced films for more than a decade with Envision Media Arts. “It’ll be kind of like Silence of the Lambs or 7even.

“(D’Onofrio) plays a cab driver, who picks up his victims in the city and takes them out to his remote dwelling,” said Buelow. “I don’t want to give away the rest.”

In addition to its thematic benefits and lower-budget potential, Buelow says Moose Jaw is a very “film-friendly” city.

“The director, Jen Lynch, filmed Surveillance in Saskatchewan and really wanted to come back,” he said. “She’s a huge fan of this area.”

A Los Angeles native, this was Buelow’s first time to Moose Jaw and Saskatchewan.

“It’s just one big prairie,” he said, smiling. “In California, you can’t go anywhere without seeing a mountain.”

As for the people, Buelow says they’ve lived up to Lynch’s promise of being super friendly and co-operative.

“We hired quite a few Moose Jaw natives (25 extras) for a shoot at the Galaxy (Cinemas),” said Buelow. “They can look for themselves on the big screen. We even featured some of your mosquitoes in the movie.”

Rabbit is not the first film to be shot in Moose Jaw.

The city has played host to numerous films throughout the past 10 years, including Surveillance, Just Friends (Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart) and Sleepwalking (Charlize Theron produced and acted).

Susanne Bell, CEO of SaskFilm and film commissioner for the province, agrees that Moose Jaw’s combination of setting, low costs and film savvy makes it ideal for filmmaking.

“There such a diversity of looks that are standing right there (in Moose Jaw),” she said. “We don’t have to build the sets. It’s just right there.”

After working with Lynch on Surveillance, Bell is really excited to have her back.

“She became a part of the Saskatchewan film fabric when she worked here,” says Bell. “We couldn’t wait to have her back.”

Rabbit is expected to release sometime in 2012.

Joshua Campbell can be reached at 691-1256

Organizations: SaskFilm

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, California, Saskatchewan Vancouver Los Angeles

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