Curse of Aurore is a new found footage horror film directed by Mehran C. Torgoley and written by Llana Barron & Mehran C. Torgoley.
A “Dark Web” thumb drive discovered by viral YouTuber, Casey Nolan, reveals disturbing footage following Lena, Aaron, and Kevin, three American filmmakers visiting rural Quebec to research the true child murder case of Aurore Gagnon, a girl who died as a result of brutal child abuse inflicted by her parents in 1920. As the filmmakers search for inspiration in the quiet farm town of Fortierville, the place where Aurore died and is buried, they witness a number of bone-chilling paranormal occurrences ultimately leading them to an attempt to communicate with the deceased child. Armed with a stolen book called “Languages of the Dead,” and a rosary from Aurore’s childhood home, the filmmakers take part in a make-shift seance, foolishly releasing a demonic force that can only be contained through a brutal and archaic ritual.
A Q&A with writer and director Llana Barron & Mehran C. Torgoley
Curse of Aurore is a must watch found footage horror focusing on a little girl named Aurore Gagnon who was savagely beaten to death at the age of 10. How’d you come up with the character and what can you tell us about her backstory?
Llana Barron: Aurore Gagnon was a real child from Fortierville, QC, who, in 1920 was tragically beaten to death by her stepmother, Marie-Anne Houde, and her father Telesphore Gagnon. Her death brought about a significant awareness of the dangers of child abuse in the rural farm towns of Quebec. Aurore is still widely considered a martyr, which is why in French, she is called Aurore L’Enfant Martyre, (Aurore, the child martyr). Her parents were tried and sent to prison for relatively short sentences; there never was any real justice for Aurore. But her name lives on as a strong part of the local history.
The true-crime mystery and found footage sub-genres are blended really wonderfully here. What made you want to focus on these areas? Were you influenced by other films or real-life crime cases?
Mehran C. Torgoley: I loved the idea of shooting in rural Quebec, but was hesitant to do a story about Aurore. She is a special and sacred part of local history and I’m an outsider. Once we came up with the idea of weaving in pieces of ourselves, as filmmakers struggling to write a good script, it all became much more appealing to me. Before we were done with our first outline, it was clear that found footage was the way to go. The true crime aspect was already ingrained in our backstory.
How does Curse of Aurore differ from other found-footage horror films?
Mehran C. Torgoley: We looked at the characters’ perspectives first. To sell the ‘reality’ of it all, it was important to me that our film had the mundanity of life as an integral part of the story to let the audience go along on a slow-burn journey, getting to know the characters through simply hanging out with them. I often think of Curse as a “vacation footage” film, as much as it is a found footage film, presented without any editing aside from camera start/stop. In addition, we frame our film via a Dark Web discovery and ground our realism even further by attaching to real-life YouTube star Casey Nolan who presents the footage that is the bulk of our film.
The lead characters, Lena, Aaron, and Kevin, play off each other very well. We see some tension as emotions run high, which makes them relatable. And because they’re capturing so much on film, the audience can feel as if they’re on this adventure with them. Since you worked with such a small cast, how important was it to find the perfect actors to play these roles? What was the casting process like?
Llana Barron: We did all of our casting through online submissions, and we had a TON. When we saw the right ones, we just knew. Jordan Kaplan (Kevin) was Kevin in so many ways – his look, his wardrobe, his LA vibe, and his wacky sense of humor. Similarly, Lex Wilson, (Aaron), was perfect to play the slightly older and wiser director. He’s highly intellectual, and is the only one in the film who seems to think straight. For me, as co-writer, I essentially wrote Lena as myself. We have a few differences, but her words are words I’ve spoken many times. Lena’s house in the film does actually belong to my family and almost everything we interact with on that set is real. When Lex and Jordan arrived on set in Canada, we all clicked immediately. As we became more comfortable with eachother, that chemistry carried onto the screen.
As a Canadian, I love that the film takes place here in Quebec. The setting goes from secluded and peaceful to feeling alarmingly haunted really fast. How’d you choose the location for the film?
Llana Barron: I’ve been visiting my relatives up there since I was a kid. A few years ago, when my mom became the owner of the family cottage, I knew we had to shoot a film there. The long farm roads, old barns, the grey of winter, the pitch dark of nights – we knew this would set the tone for the film. When I learned the case of Aurore had occurred in the town Fortierville, which is next to the town where our family’s cottage is, I knew it would be the foundation for our script. That year, I visited Aurore’s grave, saw that the locals still bring offerings of stuffed animals and other toys to honor her over 100 years since her passing. I had goosebumps. It was confirmation that this film was the right move for us.
“I visited Aurore’s grave, saw that the locals still bring offerings of stuffed animals and other toys to honor her over 100 years since her passing. It was confirmation that this film was the right move for us.”—Llana Barron
Any fun on set stories you can share?
1.) Mehran: There’s a scene where Jordan (Kevin) and Llana (Lena) lay in an empty street in the middle of the night. That night happened to be our coldest night of filming, with temps below -9 degrees. We had to run to the van between takes to get warm, then run back out again for another take. We did this for hours. It was brutal.
2.) Mehran: The reason Llana’s character, Lena, has a leg brace and a cane is because Llana actually tore her MCL just days before shooting began – the injury, brace, and cane had to be written into the character. We think it actually made for a slightly more interesting situation. An injured person can’t run very fast, so we used that to bolster the suspense toward the end of the film when Lena is running through snow.
3.) Llana: The craziest story, in my opinion, involves some potentially real paranormal activity that we can’t fully explain. We had these special crucifixes fitted with servo’s that could be controlled by a remote control to make them rotate at various times during the film. A few of us actually lived in that house during production. One night, at 4:00 AM, I was awakened by the sound of scratching on the wall. I walked out of my bedroom, and one of the crosses was spinning on its own. (I have video proof of this!) I freaked out, filmed what was happening because it made no sense to me. The remote was put away, zipped up in a hard case, and was completely powered off. It stopped after about 5 minutes. I was completely horrified!
Where can horror fans watch the film?
Mehran C. Torgoley: Curse of Aurore is available in the U.S. for rent or purchase on-demand on iTunes, PrimeVideo, YouTube, GooglePlay, VUDU, FandangoNOW, XBOX, PlayStation, Hoopla Digital, DirectTV On-Demand, and Dish On-Demand. DVD’s can also be ordered online at walmart.com, bestbuy.com, barnes&noble.com, and amazon.com. The film is also available to stream in Canada through Cinemas Guzzo Streaming online.
Sponsored Feature: Cult Cinema, LLC