Independent writer/director Michael Mongillo (THE WIND, WELCOME TO EARTH and BEING MICHAEL MADSEN) has wrapped production on the supernatural thriller DIANE, a tale of extreme obsession and drastic consequences. In the vein of the stark terror of THE RING, DIANE is an atmospheric tale of a war veteran (Jason Alan Smith of Mike Flanagan’s BEFORE I WAKE) haunted by a woman (Carlee Avers of VERONICA MARS) whose body he finds in his backyard. “I wanted DIANE to be chilling and emotionally powerful,” says filmmaker Mongillo. “The film has a social relevance and also gets under the skin of audiences to impart a haunting, lingering effect.”
In DIANE, Afghanistan War veteran Steve’s lasting injuries and regrets plunge him into a daily soulless routine until the body of a beautiful singer, Diane, is discovered in his backyard. Steve takes a photo of her corpse with his cell phone before reporting the murder and he becomes obsessed with the dead woman’s image. Now a prime suspect, Steve is scrutinized by the police, hassled by Diane’s widower, and attacked by self-righteous neighbors. Before long, the malevolent ghost of Diane weaves a dark spell in Steve’s psyche that leads to strange and startling revelations.
“DIANE is my favorite of the films I’ve directed,” says Mongillo. “With DIANE I achieved what I set out to do with the fewest compromises yet. I’m confident that moviegoers will find DIANE an emotionally honest and intellectually satisfying movie. I am so proud of the work of my long-time collaborators, especially star and executive producer, Jason Alan Smith, who delivers a gut-wrenching performance.”
Mongillo says the critical essays of Roland Barthes, the video art of Bill Viola, and the illustrations of Edward Gorey were all influences on DIANE. Its cinematic inspirations include Stanley Kubrick’s THE SHINING, Gus Van Sant’s crime and punishment road movie DRUGSTORE COWBOY, and Brian De Palma’s stylized suspense/thriller BLOW OUT. Placing his fourth feature in literary terms, Mongillo describes DIANE as “Stephen King meets Elmore Leonard.”
As he begins submitting DIANE to international film festivals and prospective distributors, Mongillo says, “I am looking forward to audiences all over the world discovering DIANE. My goal, in addition to directing something entertaining and deeply unsettling, was to create an honest work about the human condition. Horror has always served as a backdrop to telling character-driven stories and all the best ghost stories are actually tales of atonement, and that’s DIANE in a nutshell.”