In the Dave Bautista-starring action thriller Bushwick, two residents of the New York neighborhood band together to survive a harrowing ordeal in which their community turns into a war zone. Considering the recent violent political climate of the United States, the film's themes are more prescient than ever, a scary fact that directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott weren't surprised by.
When speaking with PopCulture.com, Murnion revealed the real-world inspiration for the film, explaining, "It stemmed from a quote back in 2009 from Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas, kind of 'joking' about Texas seceding from the United States. That took on a life of its own in Texas. There started to be these petitions going out and people taking it seriously. For us, we saw that quote from him and thought, 'What would happen if that really transpired?'"
In the film, Lucy (Brittany Snow) exits a subway station and faces a bloodbath, with violence running rampant in the streets with no explanation. She finds refuge in Stupe's (Bautista) basement, a rugged war veteran who alerts her that militias from Texas have infiltrated their city. The unlikely duo aim to find somewhere safe, but as the city descends into chaos, there's no haven to be found.
When discussing the violent actions by political groups in the U.S., Murnion confessed, "Honestly, it's not super surprising. For us, because we were so into this world of these militias being formed across the country, watching over the news, people divided on things, we definitely would not have predicted something like Charlottesville happened, but it's not surprising. We hoped our movie was more of what hopefully would not happen, we're hoping to be a cautionary tale, that if you take up arms to fight back, use guns, and if people are this divided, this is what could go down."
An important theme in the film is that of community, with Stupe offering to help the relatively helpless Lucy survive.
"Hopefully our movie doesn't hit you over the head with those kinds of messages. There's an intense, character-driven action film that has some of the undercurrents of what's happening in the news today, but it's definitely been influenced by what's been going on for years," Murnion notes. "That Rick Perry quote, that comes from when Obama was in office, it was underhanded racism going on, and that's been going on forever in America. The fact that this is blowing up now, and these protests that are going on, it was bound to happen."
Bushwick isn't the only film to use political tensions as an undercurrent to its narrative, with Milott detailing, "We also think it's a lot like John Carpenter's movies, like Escape From New York, where they're kind of escapist fun and you don't go too deep into the politics, but there is some social commentary there."
Milott continued, "I think any good horror movie, any good genre movie, fiction, things like Black Mirror, there's obvious social commentary with that stuff. At the same time, you don't really have to think about it, if it's good entertainment or good storytelling, that should just be an additional aspect to dig deeper. Hopefully the artists or filmmakers do have something to say."
Bushwick is in select theaters and on VOD now.