Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Suki Waterhouse and Josh Hutcherson star in the dark drama “Burn.”
Warning: Many spoilers ahead for “Burn.” Stop reading now if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want to know.
Josh Hutcherson has found new horrors in notoriously bad gas-station coffee.
In the dark drama “Burn” (on demand and in theaters now in Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit and other select cities), a pot of gas-station brew gets poured onto his character Billy’s face after he tries to rob the joint. It turns into one “hell of a night” (as the drama’s poster proclaims) for the “Hunger Games” star, whose once-cocky Billy ultimately meets his crime comeuppance.
“I’d put this movie at an eight on the weirdness scale,” says Hutcherson, 26. “That’s what drew me to it. There was something funny, dark and very weird and awkward about it.”
Here are five ways “Burn” earned that score:
This is your last chance to bail before we head into spoiler territory.
The entire movie takes place in a gas station.
“Burn” makes a bleak statement on modern life and toxic masculinity almost entirely within the confines of one real gas station in rural upstate New York. (The bathroom and break room scenes were shot on a soundstage.)
“It allowed us to mess up the store pretty full-on. And we did,” Hutcherson says.
The shelves were well-stocked with every kind of snack (both props and product placement). “You weren’t allowed to touch the store snacks,” Hutcherson says. “They were just staring at us the whole time.”
Billy has the mark of man burned by coffee.
Wearing Wrangler jeans and a belt buckle featuring a bucking bull and a naked woman, Billy is proud of his whole look. Prouder still of his good looks, which suffer considerably when store clerk Melinda (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) tosses a carafe of steaming coffee into his face.
Fear not: The concoction was tepid, despite Hutcherson’s screams.
“It was a pot of water with food coloring in it,” he says. “We added the steam in post production.”
Hutcherson plays the rest of the movie with his face half-charred (it’s makeup, of course). Not pretty.
A duct-taped Billy is force-fed sex-enhancement pills.
Melinda is strong in some moments, psychotic in others. She duct-tapes Billy to a chair, even taping his eyes before pushing gas-station herbal sex-enhancement pills into his mouth and taping that shut. She forces Billy into a sexual act.
“It shocked me how scary it felt,” Hutcherson says. “I have a lot of feelings for anyone who has to go through something like that. To be actually put in that position, held against your will and have that forced upon you in that way, you feel very powerless.”
Billy kills with an air hose.
Perry (Shiloh Fernandez), the jealous boyfriend of store clerk Sheila (Suki Waterhouse), messes with the wrong guy at the gas station. Billy goes MacGyver-esque on the stranger, grabbing the air hose, sticking it down his throat and smiting his foe with compressed air forced into his mouth.
“That’s going to be a first for people to see,” Hutcherson says. “It was like, what ways can I kill someone in a convenience store gas-station setting? That’s right up there on this list.”
It was choreographed and difficult.
“Killing someone takes a lot of effort … so I’ve heard,” he says. “And making it real as possible was exhausting.”
Billy totally flames out.
Melinda has the final act, setting a gasoline-surrounded Billy alight. The image of Billy in flames and spinning in the store is spectacular. “The stunt guy was on fire for a really long time,” Hutcherson says.
He provided the haunting death scream in post-production.
“You find the deepest thing inside you and let it rip through the back of your throat,” says Hutcherson, who could only force out two soul-depleting takes. “It’s this guttural, pained animalistic scream of burning alive which sounds absolutely awful.”
“And I’m just not a big screamer,” he adds.
Through the oddness and difficulties, Hutcherson is proud of “Burn” and says he isn’t turned off by the concept of highway snack stops.
“Billy might have gas-station store PTSD, but I’m good,” says Hutcherson. “I love me a convenience store any time.”
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