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Fantastic Fest: Deadwax creator Graham Reznick on using sound to manipulate his audience

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Sep 24, 2018, 8:55 PM EDT (Updated)

Monday night at midnight, Fantastic Fest attendees were treated to an early sneak peek of Deadwax, the upcoming horror series set to premiere on the horror streaming platform Shudder at some point in the near future. 

After all eight episodes were screened, Deadwax creator Graham Reznick was on hand, decked in full cowboy regalia, to talk about setting a horror movie in the obsessive world of vinyl collectors. It's Reznick's extensive history with sound design, which includes scoring films like Clown and In The Valley of Violence, that inspired him to make something where sound itself was the antagonist

"I've always been obsessed with and intrigued with the idea you can do a lot with sound invisibly," Reznick explained to the crowd, including SYFY WIRE. "You can alter people's perception, especially in a film, of what's going on on the screen without any indication of what's going on [visually]."

It's Reznick's sonic prowess that really elevates Deadwax beyond a rehash of The Ring, but swapping out vinyl records for VHS tapes. As a result, everything from the soundtrack to the dialogue to the background noise has a crisp, almost tangible texture to it, all of which is designed to keep viewers white-knuckled during each episode's 15-minute runtime. 

"People are pretty savvy to the tricks that we tend to use in those different areas, but with sound design, you can do a lot without people realizing it," said Reznick, adding that "it's kind of like black magic." 

While Deadwax blurs the lines between the supernatural and the scientific in its exploration of what sound can do, if the series does well with Shudder's subscriber base, Reznick already has ideas on how he plans to revisit the analog world that he's laid the groundwork for. 

"Mythology-wise, since this is a TV show, I wanted to tell a complete story arc in these two hours, but I also wanted it to set up the potential for a much deeper story," Reznick revealed. "It was kind of a bait-and-switch with the urban legend aspect. It seems like it's going to be the classic 'cursed record' kind of thing, but there's actually a much more sci-fi element to it. But that opens things up considerably if we take this story further. We'd go to some interesting places. Like on a submarine." 

All eight episodes of Deadwax will be available to stream on Shudder sometime soon. In the meantime, be sure to check out all of SYFY WIRE's Fantastic Fest coverage all this week.