Who likes the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse? Nobody, right? Well, except for Alex MacPherson. Maybe it’s because he is such a fan of the genre. Maybe it’s because he feels as if he has already lived through it with his role in Dead Rush. The film was released earlier this year and was an Official Selection of the Canada Film Fest. Unless you have been hibernating or living off the grid for the past several years, you know that zombies are ubiquitous in film and television. Walking Dead and movies like 28 Days Later ignited a zombie fire that has seen TV and movies about them set records. One thing is for sure, people love seeing zombies and MacPherson is no exception. Whereas most zombie scenarios show a group paradigm, Dead Rush takes an extremely personal perspective by following one man as he loses everything. It’s this individual’s struggle in a world that is crumbling around him that implies the modern concern for our planet and how society is causing it to fall into a state of disrepair; one from which it can never fully recover…or maybe it is just good old’ fashion Hollywood scare tactics.
Dead Rush is simply the zombie version of the “riches to rags” story for one man. Early in the film the main character’s wife dies as they attempt to escape the chaos that follows the apocalypse, soon all those around him are dying and becoming zombies. We follow the journey of the main character and his attempt to find refuge with survivors. MacPherson is literally the first person we see in the film. Sadly for him, he is killed trying to escape and is impaled by a pole; his death resulting in his rebirth as a zombie. Even the long periods required to be in the makeup chair couldn’t dull Alex’s enthusiasm as he recalls, “It sounds a little crazy to say that you love a car crash scene but I didn’t have any of the negativity of an actual crash or the repercussions that follow so it was a lot of fun. The Art Department had beaten the hell out of this old van. They shoved a pole through the windshield, hooked up smoke machines, it was pure Hollywood magic! The Makeup artists were incredible so when I saw the zombie it really was terrifying. He looked so real!”
Zac Ramelan directed (along with writing and producing credits for) the film. Ramelan (known for his work on feature films like Late Night Double Feature, Zombieworld, and others) often works with cinematographer Karl Janisse. Witnessing the professional relationship between the two, Alex comments, “Working with director Zac Ramelan, and Director of Photography Karl Janisse, was the best part of this project for me. The two were like peanut butter and jam, working so well together. I remember sitting back and watching with admiration as they broke down a scene. Zac, who also wrote the film, had such a clear vision of everything, and of course, that always help as an actor, when you have strong direction.” It would be quite difficult for anyone to understand what motivates a zombie (other than eating brains, of course) but MacPherson confirms that working with Ramelan made it easy, noting, “When you have a director with a vision as strong as Zac’s, not much research is required. As for putting my mind fully into the film’s character, it really wasn’t hard with how detailed the set was, which was just done so well. It truly felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic world.” The film’s cinematographer Karl Janisse praises MacPherson’s abilities and contributions that helped achieve such a positive public response declaring, “It was an immense pleasure to work with Alex on Dead Rush. He is so creative. Working in this genre you need the story to be fresh but you also need the actors to bring something new to a role, something that entices the viewer; Alex does that. He is a wonderful actor. I’m scheduled to work with him soon on a project for Mimic Entertainment and I am really looking forward to it.”
It would seem that the misfortune which befalls the cast on screen is not without a real life counterpart, although in a much more benevolent sense. When the cast walked the red carpet at the film’s premier (at the Canada Film Festival) they were caught in a torrential downpour…in Canada…in winter! This occurrence (soundtrack provided by fellow Canadian Alanis Morissette’s tempting of fate) still did not dampen the cast’s spirits. According to MacPherson it has more to do with Canadian’s love of film that anything. He states, “Studios like to pick up horror films because they sell! Much of the feel of a horror film can be created with lighting, color correction and music. I don’t think Canada in particular has any specific things that make the horror genre so prevalent but there is just so much filming here! Toronto and Vancouver are film capitols, and the amount of filming there is actually increasing!”
Never content to settle, Alex has several projects in the works. He recently wrote and starred in Palmer’s Pumpkins. He wrote the film specifically as an ode to the 80’s horror films that he grew up loving, although it is more fun and fantasy based than horror. When Earth Sleeps is a trilogy set in a post apocalyptic world (a theme Alex is familiar with) in which the main character Aydin searches for solace. While maintaining a heavy workload of filming in his homeland of Canada, MacPherson hears the sirens beckoning from Hollywood. He reveals, “As much as I love Canada, and Toronto specifically, Los Angeles has been calling to me for a while. There’s something about the Hollywood dream that calls to all actors. I visited LA a few times over the last few years, originally thinking that I wouldn’t love the city, but would have to learn to at least accept it; the funny thing is, after my first visit I absolutely fell in love with it. That and every fiber of my being was screaming out that I had to get there. To this day I have a strong intuitive notion that my next chapter in film will occur in LA. Whether Toronto has a ton of projects shooting or not, there is still something about LA that Canada doesn’t have, when it comes to the entertainment world. As an actor and screenwriter, Los Angeles’s appeal is paramount. I’m also really lucky to have become close with a number of LA-based directors and producers. I am super excited to have a bunch of projects lined up already. It is one thing to want to get to LA as an actor, but it’s another thing altogether to have LA film people want to work with you. It’s like something out of a dream. What a life!”