Saw franchise vet Marcus Dunstan is back in the horror genre with Unhuman. The horror-comedy movie finds a misfit group of high schoolers embarking on a field trip, only for zombie-like creatures to force them to put aside their differences and find a way to survive.
Benjamin Wadsworth (Deadly Class), Drew Scheid (Halloween Kills), and Uriah Shelton (Looking For Alaska) join an ensemble of talented young actors in threading the lines between horror and comedy throughout Unhuman‘s tight runtime.
Ahead of the film’s release, Screen Rant spoke exclusively with stars Benjamin Wadsworth, Drew Scheid and Uriah Shelton to discuss Unhuman, their love of the zombie movie genre, developing their characters with director Marcus Dunstan and more.
Screen Rant: I’m excited to get to talk to you all about this movie. It was quite the blast from start to finish. What about this film really drew all of your interest in being a part of it?
Benjamin Wadsworth: For me, it was the character, Randall. He’s this very damaged human that was definitely interesting to me as an actor, to play someone who wasn’t portrayed to be you so perfect. Also talking to our director Marcus Dunstan, just hearing his passion and enthusiasm for the movie definitely made me excited to get into it.
Uriah Shelton: I think from my perspective, it was on my bucket list to do a zombie movie. Since I was a kid, I always wanted to be a part of one, I loved them. And I really love the idea of playing bad guys and mean characters, because it’s something that I’m not. So it’s a really cool thing to step out of that and just be something wholly different.
The more the script developed — because we had some pretty big rewrites in the beginning — the more my character got humanized and the more I was like, “Oh, that’s why he’s like that. That’s why he’s messed up. That’s why he mistreats people.” Finding him get that resolution at the end of being like, “Okay, we don’t have to be a d–k because we went through some stuff.” That’s what really drew me to it and then it held me into it, I really liked it.
Drew Scheid: What drew me was like, one, it’s a zombie movie, it’s a fun like John Hughes zombie movie where we’re all running from zombies and finding out more about ourselves. Also for me to have a clear character goal, Steven’s goal in the movie is I want to be with Ever more than anything. Like I’ve spent my entire life, I imagine from kindergarten to senior year, in love with Ever. To have a fun like, I wouldn’t say it’s a romantic role at all. [Laughs]
You’ve seen the movie, it’s not a romantic role, but to have this fun energy on top of all the things that are happening in the movie from running from zombies and bullies. Then when me and Ever get to have scenes where there’s this unspoken energy like right away, where it’s like, “Oh, what’s gonna happen, they kind of like each other?”
Drew, your character is in a similar vein to Oscar in Halloween 2018, as far as your goals. What that was like for you, from an actor’s perspective, really trying to help ensure that there was a difference in the characters and the way that audiences see them?
Drew Scheid: Oh, yeah, you’re right. On paper, I think Steven and Oscar are very similar, [they’re] excited, long haired and a very, very one-sided relationship with the female lead of either film. [Chuckles] What was great with Steven was he had so much, I don’t want to say anxious [energy], but yet he was so anxious of what what people thought about him, of what even even his best friend Randall thought of him. I want to be the best friend I can to be to Randall and I’m so scared of what Ever thinks of me. I think Steven’s so bogged down by his own intrusive thoughts that then it leads him to situations like Unhuman.
It does go down an interesting path for him in this movie, to say the least. Ben, when I talked to Marcus earlier, he had mentioned how a lot of the characters are supposed to be these genre cliches. Did you have any major inspirations for the for your character, especially through these various rewrites?
Benjamin Wadsworth: I wouldn’t say I pulled from anything specifically, just from my personal experiences in high school. I was homeschooled, so [it was] just going into the feeling of being isolated and not having too many friends. I hung around a couple of bridges and listened to moody music [chuckles] and occasionally, the darker questions can creep in, so I guess that’s kind of where I drew inspiration from.
Uriah, much like Drew, we’ve seen you play a jock-like character before with Booker in Freaky. What was it like for you really exploring this different archetype and trying to set yourself apart from a similar character on paper?
Uriah Shelton: One of the really cool developments that we had was I was supposed to die on page 24. In the original script, I got my head blown off and after the audition tape, I guess they liked what I did and they made him a more prominent character. When they did that, as we were shooting, they added in all these humanizing elements and you realize that, even though he is this d–kish jock and — he’s very different from Booker, he’s very arrogant and he’s cocky and very uncaring and selfish, you start to realize why.
When he was younger, he was bullied for being heavy and all that manifested into this protective shell that that he just carried around with him and it was really heavy on him. When he was able to let that go, he actually started being able to rebuild his relationships and I was able to pull a little bit from my own life with that. I was never overweight, but I was severely underweight after a motorcycle wreck, I went from like 155 pounds down to 98 and I remember hating what I saw in the mirror, I was ripped open, a big footlong scar on my stomach, I looked like a wraith.
It took a lot of hard work and it took a lot of external and internal growth for that and I know how slippery of a slope that can be where you just want to dig into it and not give a f–k about anybody. But I was lucky, I didn’t go down this path, but I know how easy it can be to go down that path, so I was really happy to be able to explore that, it was really therapeutic in a way.
That’s an unexpected blessing of a role, right?
Uriah Shelton: It really was though, I got to credit Marcus to it. He really gave those humanizing elements and he trusted me to play it and I’m really grateful to him and the whole Blumhouse team.
The Blumhouse team has done very little wrong thus far. Since you do mentioned the rebuilding of relationships with your character, this next question is for all you guys. So much of this film works because of your rapport with one another, whether it be antagonistic, friendly or whatever it may be. What was that like for all of you coming up with that off-camera before bringing it into every scene?
Drew Scheid: What was really great was it was a pretty long shoot and we had these long full days with each other and it was pretty special of like, “We’re all in the scenes together.” Then we’re all hanging out together in between shots and then like, “Oh, it’s wrapped and we’re done at six, let’s all get dinner, let’s go right next hotel and go get dinner. Oh, it’s the weekend, we only have a day and then we shoot on Sunday, great, let’s all go out and do something in New Orleans and then come back.”
There was so much communal bonding because we got that opportunity, which was fantastic, because I feel on some sets, you maybe meet like one or two people and then the people shoot around you and then you sometimes don’t meet everyone. But on this, we all got to meet and hang out and have fun the whole time.
Uriah Shelton: When you’re filming in such close proximity with your co-workers, there’s so much that can go wrong, especially with people in the industry. But I gotta say, the fact that we had a few days before shooting to bond and go out, grab drinks, grab food, get to know each other really well really helped everything go smoothly. That was something that was really important to us, because like we said, we had a lot of long days, a lot of long nights, it’s not an easy thing shooting in Louisiana summertime.
There’s no AC and you’re filming outside, it’s hot, everybody’s just pushing through it. But you knew that the guy to your right and the guy to your left and the girl to your right, the girl on your left, they were going to perform, because we got to spend that time with them. We got to get to know them really well, so we knew that they weren’t just gonna leave us hanging.
Benjamin Wadsworth: We had a lot of fun behind the scenes and definitely went out to Bourbon Street a couple of times, watched some basketball games. I remember Drew and CJ, they made a quick Walmart run, I was like, “Hey, guys, can you stop and get me a Rubik’s Cube” and they did and we had a lot of fun.
Drew Scheid: Oh yeah, there was a lot of shared, “I’m running out to this, who needs what?” Were you guys at the one karaoke night?
Benjamin Wadsworth: I didn’t make it to that one karaoke night, CJ did.
Uriah Shelton: I remember part of the karaoke night. [Laughs]
Drew Scheid: It was fun with the cast and crew, and that was great, like not only the cast bonded. It was a big crew, but it also wasn’t like, I was trying to think of how many people were on it the other day, because it wasn’t ike a large crew, everyone knew each other and everyone was with each other all day. We all went out together as a cast and crew, which is fantastic.
Uriah Shelton: It was a good size, but it was intimate. It was really nice.
That’s a rarity that you get in Hollywood. Since you all mentioned your love of zombie movies, what are your favorite zombie movies?
Benjamin Wadsworth: Shaun of the Dead.
Drew Scheid: Dang it. I just saw that for the first time, I love Edgar Wright.
Uriah Shelton: I think 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, I think they kind of changed the genre a good bit. They were just brutal, they were honest, they really explored the humanity aspect of it, the total psychological breakdown associated with it. But as far as the whole creatures, World War Z and I Am Legend, they were some terrifying zombies. They were fast, they were vicious, they were just completely animalistic. But they also had some humanizing elements to them as well, which made them even more terrifying, because you felt something for him.
Drew Scheid: My favorite zombie movie? Unhuman. 2022. June 3.
The dead will have this club for breakfast. Blumhouse Television and Epix bring you the story of a high school field trip gone bloody awry. Students’ trust in each other is tested to the limit when the only way out is a brutal, horrifying fight to survive.
Check out our other Unhuman interviews with director and co-writer Marcus Dunstan.
Unhuman is now on digital platforms and streaming on Epix.
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