Initiation Director On Re-Inventing The Slasher For The Insta Age

On this episode, Jason chats with John Berardo, director and co-writer of the new film Initiation, which releases in theaters, on-demand, and on digital May 7th.

In the conversation, Berardo said in the making of the film he was grappling with how to do a college-set slasher film while meeting several challenges. First, how would a film like Scream change in an age when every character carries a smartphone and shares their every move? And second, can a slasher thrill without adopting the exploitative undercurrents of its classic '70s and '80s films?  A lot of the answer spins around the perspective of the film– there's definitely toxic masculinity on display in a story that involves frat bros tagging girls on Instagram with a "slut" mark, but the toxicity itself is under indictment in this slasher from the start.

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Castle Talk logo and Initiation poster used with permission

Say the producers:

In Initiation, during a university's pledge week, the carefree partying turns deadly serious when a star athlete is found impaled in his dorm. The murder ignites a spree of sinister social-media messages, sweeping the students and police into a race against time to uncover the truth behind the school's dark secrets…and the horrifying meaning of a recurring symbol: a single exclamation mark.

Directed by John Berardo (The Labyrinth), he co-wrote the film with Brian Frager (A Persistent Illusion) and Lindsay LaVanchy ("Scream: The TV Series"). LaVanchy also co-stars in the Initiation along with Jon Huertas ("This Is Us"), Isabella Gomez ("Head of the Class," "One Day at a Time"), Froy Gutierrez ("Teen Wolf"), Gattlin Griffith (Green Lantern), Patrick Walker ("The Resident"), Bart Johnson ("High School Musical 3: Senior Year"), Shireen Lai, Kent Faulcon (Selma) with Yancy Butler (Kick-Ass 2) and Lochlyn Munro ("Riverdale").

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Jason Henderson is the host of the Castle of Horror and Castle Talk Podcasts, the editor of the "Castle of Horror Anthology" series. He is the author of The Serpent's Nest: Young Captain Nemo from Macmillan Children's Books. His new horror series "Surf Mystic," under the pseudonym Peyton Douglas, debuted with the novel Night of the Book Man in 2020.

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About Jason Henderson

Jason Henderson, author of the Young Captain Nemo (Macmillan Children's) and Alex Van Helsing (HarperTeen) series, earned his BA from University of Dallas in 1993 and his JD from Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., in 1996. His popular podcasts “Castle Talk” and “Castle of Horror” feature interviews and discussion panels made up of best-selling writers and artists from all genres. Henderson lives in Colorado with his wife and two daughters.
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