Reality television. It’s everywhere nowadays. “The Bachelor,” “Millionaire Matchmaker,” “Sister Wives,” just to name a few, have taken over the airwaves and given us some unforgettable (and often unbearable) moments that make even this horror lover cringe. Every season there’s a new gimmick, a new dating craze and of course a new babe (or stud) that’s looking to find their soulmate and live happily ever after. And in Ready Freddy Films‘ new web series/reality TV show “Reality,” we are shown this familiar premise with a terrifying spin. One man, eight girls, one elimination each episode. But I’m not talking about red roses or tiki torches, because in this show elimination means brutal death, and the winner gets to spend the rest of her days with Rusty Polar, the psychopathic killer who’s searching for his soulmate…
A horror reality TV show is so refreshing, and the execution by this cast and crew, led by creator and leading man Dustin Puehler, is nearly flawless. This really feels like a poppy reality TV show, but even better than that, it feels like a slimy, freaky torture flick. We get glimpses into the lives and pasts of these characters in the ways only a bubbly reality show could do, and I honestly feel invested to find out who wins it all. And just like any reality television show, it’s full of humor (albeit DARK), raw human emotion and plenty of backstabbing surprises…
We had a chance to chat with Puehler about the series, his “bachelor” Rusty Polar, as well as some other fun stuff! Check it out, horror lovers!
LAHorror: Do you think that there’s any HORROR in today’s actual reality TV??
Dustin Puehler: Definitely. The way you have major networks manipulating image and reinforcing stereotypes, while making tons of money, can be quite horrific to see how they paint someone to create entertainment, especially when it is the “girls chasing the guy” format. They drink people up and just wait for them to do something that they can turn into drama or better yet humiliating.
LAHorror: Reality TV shows, in particular dating shows, have a “bachelor” type character that runs the show. Tell us about Rusty Polar. How is it playing this character who does some pretty nasty things to these women?
DP: Exhausting. I wanted to emulate the process of reality TV, so I would set up these scenes and we would do 6-7 minutes at a time. Making it as brutal as possible and absolutely no sarcastic satire. It was through the edit that I wanted to force myself to find those moments and get into that state of mind to exploit this images with reality show editing techniques.
LAHorror: How did you pitch this project to your actresses? It’s horror, no doubt, but there’s a lot of VERY dark humor. Tiffany (Tiffany Gollinger) is really good, by the way. I’m rooting for her to win the competition.
DP: I was very lucky to have such an amazing cast! They all went for it pretty easily and understood the vision of the piece. I won’t say who wins, but I’m very proud of the way the show wraps up!
LAHorror: How much of the show is scripted? It feels really natural.
DP: As the writer too, almost all my lines are scripted. The settings, the camera work, and the structure was all laid out. There was a line thrown to the girls for narrative purposes here and there, but they are all reactionary to my lines. They did a great job embodying their characters through improvising!
LAHorror: How would you compare “Reality” to some of Ready Freddy Films’ other horror projects?
DP: Most of my horror ideas (“Spots,” “Caleb,” “Cutie“) are very slow, brooding, and character based to get any message across, where “Reality” really needs weird tonal shifts to play up the satire thats intended. It was interesting to craft scenes where we would create moment to laugh with, but then follow it up with a dark horror element, then remind you of what you are watching to break the laughter. It is an interesting balancing board.
The remaining five episodes of “Reality” will be premiering throughout August, so pick your favorite contestant and enjoy the ride!