Allan Moyle - The Cold High
Lindsay West takes a trip to Weirdsville with Allan Moyle, nutty cult filmmaker and Canadian treasure
Filmmaker Allan Moyle is beaming across the table at me: ‘I loved your movie!’ Sensing my confusion he continues: ‘The movie – your movie! Trainspotting!’ Unable to discern the distinction between my Glaswegian accent and the Edinburgh-based epic, he presses on. ‘You know, Weirdsville really is Trainspotting watered down. But we’re happy to be Trainspotting watered down. It’s a great movie.’
Moyle, the Canadian director behind cult 90s hits Pump Up the Volume and Empire Records is in town to talk about his latest film, Weirdsville. Pitched by the man himself as a ‘happy drugs movie’, the film tells the story of spaced-out junkies Dexter (Scott Speedman) and Royce (Wes Bentley): stuck in the bleak Ontario midwinter and forced to contend with a missing stash and a half-dead hooker, while being pursued by devil-worshippers and a band of little people.
The film is in many ways a continuation of Moyle’s directorial fondness for the slacker side of life. Dexter and Royce are perhaps what the Empire Records staff might have been without the benefit of a steady job. ‘If there’s one thing that continues, or that I am drawn to, it’s the kind of character who is the thinking-man’s fuck-up, who’s basically sweet.’ Moyle concludes. ‘The writer chose to go with Satanists and dwarves, but we chose the sweetest Satanists and dwarves we could find. Even the villains are hard to hate, really.’
This selection of mild-mannered misfits is what Moyle regards as his ‘giant contribution’ to the film. ‘You know, really my strength is in finding the actors. If you find the actors, you don’t do that much directing, you just turn the camera on,’ he shrugs. ‘But luck is a huge factor. With Empire Records, we got really lucky with the cast – there’s an alchemy there. And it’s the same with this movie.’
As Trainspotting-lite, Weirdsville’s drugs message is similarly easy-going. ‘It’s not anti-drug, in that they go from hard drugs to mild drugs.’ Even without the pharmaceutical high, there is a surrealism at work in Weirdsville that is, to Moyle at least, of a peculiarly nationalistic nature. ‘[Canada] is trippy because it has to be. The big brother in the south has got the money and the stance, and we need to find our identity in being the opposite.’ A link, maybe with Scottish angst?
‘Yeah, the underdog thing.’ Moyle nods, ‘But, you know, it’s not half as intense as it is in Scotland. That great speech in Trainspotting, “Scotland’s shite,” right? Nobody’s walking around saying, “Canada’s shite” because it’s just a comfortable, middle-class existence. We don’t even have that, we don’t even have the horror of it.’
What Canadians do have however, according to Mr Moyle, is ‘a weirdness built-in’. Explanation perhaps for the director’s 2004 Michael Jackson biopic, Man in the Mirror. ‘Michael has taken a huge amount of bad press, [but] I’m very pro-Michael. He’s not a paedophile.’ But he is weird, though? ‘Oh, extremely weird! But I like his struggle to be weird, and to be understood. My heart goes out to the guy. He refuses to compromise and just be half-weird. He’s my hero.’
Weirdsville is on selected release from Fri 16 Nov.