After nearly a decade of taking a break from the director’s chair, Fred Vogel comes back in rare form for his latest feature, The Final Interview. Over the years, Vogel’s name has become synonymous with unrepentant gore—largely due to the infamous nature of the August Underground trilogy which he co-wrote and directed—but his latest offering is anything but extreme fare.
The Final Interview, shot in just nine days in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, follows TV news journalist Oliver Ross as he begrudgingly travels to the Steel City to conduct a live, face-to-face interview with convicted murderer Darius Tidman. In a desperate attempt to revive the ratings for his failing television show, The Ross Perspective, Oliver and his ex-wife and producer, Rhonda, visit Western Penitentiary just hours before Darius’ execution in hopes of filming something sensational.
Exceptional talent is on display in The Final Interview. Damien Maruscak, who portrays multiple murderer Darius Tidman, delivers an intense and effective performance throughout. Barely blinking and spouting off about his “journey for truth,” Maruschak helps create a character that earns both empathy and repulsion. Across from him at the interview table is a man who earned no love from me whatsoever. Oliver Ross is a self-absorbed, chemically dependent misogynist hanging on by a thread, and Actor Grainger Hines fucking nails every single bit of this. Behind him is his driven, clearly more focused but frustrated producer and ex-wife, Rhonda, played by beloved veteran actress Diane Franklin.
When Tidman and Ross begin their push and pull on live television, an interesting dynamic emerges between the two, proving that Ross may have more in common than ever anticipated with the Southside Slasher.
Written by Scott Swan—who had previously worked with Vogel on the film, Maskhead (2009), and co-wrote John Carpenter’s Masters of Horror entry, Cigarette Burns—The Final Interview is a dialogue-heavy flick that doesn’t end up drowning itself. Instead, it helps showcase the talent and passionate work that went into creating this stellar example of what independent filmmaking can achieve.
Also worth noting is the attention to detail that went into this production; everything from the era-appropriate commercials, costumes and set design were incredibly impressive. In addition to the film’s ability to impress is the packaging and design of the physical copy available to fans: a three disc limited edition consisting of a Blu-ray, DVD, and CD all lovingly wrapped up together with an evidence folder, photos, and special features.
It’s exciting to see filmmakers who got their start in the more extreme side of cinema evolve and grow as artists and storytellers. Some that immediately come to mind are Adam Rehmeier (The Bunny Game 2012) and Karim Hussain (Subconscious Cruelty 2000) who have gone on to do some still fiercely independent but more accessible films. Vogel has now been added to this list.
There’s a reason why The Final Interview walked away with the Best Thriller win in 2019 at Nightmares Film Festival, one of the most revered genre fests around. You can find out why, too, when you check out Fred Vogel’s The Final Interview, now available to purchase HERE.