Student director delights in horror

At first glance, junior Carrsan Morrissey might seem like your typical well-rounded, friendly high school student, involved with drama and speech team. But Morrissey is more than meets the eye: he’s a dedicated 17-year-old horror film director.

Sophomore Lexy Abbas and senior Josh Ochoa get in character to film “Horrible Things.”

Morrissey is wrapping up production on his newest short horror film, “Horrible Things.” The film focuses on three demons, Nazzrack, Yessromm and Sammoht (played by senior Josh Ochoa and juniors Maddie Laing and Luke Wheeler) that terrorize a teen —Mary Blackwell (played by sophomore Lexy Abbas) — with unknown psychic powers.

The plot is a culmination of an idea that Morrissey had driving to speech districts in 9th grade, two years ago. “I was listening to the song ‘Dracula’ by Rob Zombie, and I had this idea of these three demons walking through this field,” Morrissey said. The idea evolved the film’s eerie plotline, which follows Mary Blackwell as she fights to survive with the help of two demon hunters, played by seniors Evan Fairbanks and Zach Souhrada-Rodgers.

Inspired by the horror genre as a whole, Morrissey felt like he wasn’t directly influenced by a singular movie. A big movie watcher, Morrissey enjoys watching dark movies that feature big, climactic music and tight camera angles. “I’m really, really into movies that feature a lot of huge music,” he said. He said he hopes his film delivers a dark intensity that leaves viewers on the edges of their seats. “I’m trying to use a style of horror where I’m not depending on jump scares. I want it to be scary in what’s happening, too,” Morrissey said.

“I’m trying to use a style of horror where I’m not depending on jump scares. I want it to be scary in what’s happening, too,” Morrissey said.

“Horrible Things” was filmed in the span of one night with the help of makeup artist Mija Bean (’12) and a cast comprised of CFHS students. The set is filled with fun, but the cast is as hardworking as Morrissey himself. “I’ve spent about eight hours editing the first part of the movie, which is long, but not that bad. Overall, about 12, 15 hours total,” he said. Sophomore Lucia McNeal took photos documenting the production, seen on Morrissey’s Facebook page,

Morrissey produced “Horrible Things” himself, working on lighting techniques taught to him by his dad, Sean, owner of Ultimate Entertainment, a local DJ service. “That’s his technology, so he showed me how to use it, and I came up with the the color,” he said. Filmed using a Canon Rebel T3i, Morrissey also utilized a Steadicam to keep the shots from being too wobbly, as well as a boom microphone. He uses Adobe Premiere Elements 11 to edit. Equipment is expensive, so Morrissey used birthday and Christmas money to purchase it. “My parents and my family realize that I’m really really into this, so I get a lot of support from them,” Morrissey said.

He plans to submit the film to the Tiger Film Festival, which takes place on April 29. “Assuming it makes it — debatable, considering the content, but assuming it makes it, I’ll release it at the Film Festival first,” Morrissey said. From his view, his film would be around PG-13 if it had an MPAA rating. “I wouldn’t let a five-year-old watch it,” he said. About a week after the film festival, Morrissey will release his movie to the public.

This isn’t Morrissey’s first film, either. Last year he directed and starred in a film with Mija Bean, Hannah Dailey (’12) and Michaela Oehler (’12), called “Movie Night.”

“It’s not nearly on as big of a scale as this movie because I didn’t have many of the things that I have now, but it’s still a good movie,” he said.

Morrissey sees a future filled with the things he loves: the horror genre and films. He plans to attend film school after graduating college, hoping to secure a spot at the Columbia Film School in Chicago. “It’s a great school,” he said.

Until then, Morrissey will continue to direct and produce films with Three Demon Productions. He’s brainstorming a “Horrible Things” sequel to be released next year, with more movies coming this summer. Fans can follow his work at his Facebook page where he welcomes input and creative ideas. Expect big things from the budding director. “I’ve got a lot of big plans,” Morrissey said.

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