Hi-FearEmbodying the underlying themes of human fear, the final film of the cult hit ‘Hi-‘ trilogy, Hi-Fear, has successfully carved a niche for itself in the horror genre. The latest from producers and writers Brad and Josephina Sykes, the movie is now available on DVD and digital platforms, leaving horror buffs thrilled and chilled.

The plot revolves around an ambitious illustrator tasked with devising four of the most terrifying stories based on human fears for a new comic book. However, the stakes amplify with each story she writes, entangling her deeper into the mysteries of evil.

Brad Sykes, one of the producers and writers of “Hi-Fear,” shared, “With this film, we’re challenging both the filmmakers and the audience to confront their greatest fears. We delve into a variety of fears ranging from urban madness to backwoods evil and even the apocalypse. There’s something in Hi-Fear that should scare everyone.”

“Hi-Fear” is the final installment in the ‘Hi-‘ series that originated in 2013 with “Hi-8,” a collection of low-budget indie horror films. Josephina Sykes, co-producer and writer, recalled how “Hi-8” was born from a Facebook group conversation between filmmakers about recapturing the joy of making movies. It quickly gained momentum and eventually gave rise to “Hi-Death” and now “Hi-Fear.” The series has evolved from its lo-fi beginnings to the more sophisticated and ambitious storytelling of “Hi-Fear,” with each installment receiving widespread acclaim and featuring longer and more intricate segments inspired by the filmmakers’ personal fears.

When asked about what the conclusion of the trilogy represents, Brad confessed it’s both an end of an era and a springboard for future projects. “One of the cool things about making this trilogy is getting to meet and work with talented people we otherwise might never have met.” He added that while they’ve enjoyed the anthology format, they’re eager to transition back to full-length features.

Josephina co-wrote “Cold Read,” the L.A.-based segment for “Hi-Death,” which she describes as a joy to create. The plot draws from her experiences in the film industry, tackling the issue of rejection and personal abuse within the sector. “I also like having real people as the ‘monsters’ because our fellow human beings can be scarier when pushed by the darker forces they have within,” she explained.

In the ‘Hi-‘ trilogy, the Sykes have collaborated with noteworthy directors, including Todd Sheets and Anthony Catanese. Reflecting on these collaborations, Brad described the unique perspectives and styles that each filmmaker brought to the projects, underscoring the importance of offering a variety of horror experiences within each film.

The premise of “Hi-Fear” centers on a comic book artist. This unique idea was an homage to the anthology style of “Creepshow” and “Tales from the Crypt.” The protagonist grapples with real-world issues often faced by creators, such as the fear of competition and aging. “Although it has a lot of fantasy elements, this story brings up some real-world issues that creators still face,” Brad pointed out.

Having had an illustrious career in the horror genre, Brad said, “The ‘Hi’ movies, including Hi-Fear, have rejuvenated my love for the genre. I’ve really been able to go outside the usual parameters and do something more personal, and more challenging to the audience.”

Josephina’s perspective on filmmaking is shaped by her experiences growing up in Romania under communism where horror movies were banned. “Living under a strange political system makes some things scarier or others less frightening to me than in other people’s cases. But it also made me dig deeper into the movie world, and I still like to do that,” she said. Having faced censorship, she expressed her aversion to it and voiced concerns about having to cut certain scenes for their indie horror movies to get onto platforms like Amazon or YouTube.

Brad, who was the mastermind behind Camp Blood (1999), the first digital 3D horror movie, elaborated on how technological advancements have impacted the horror genre. “The 3D lens was very limiting, in terms of lighting and composition…it’s a gimmick originally intended to get people away from their TV sets back in the 1950s, and I don’t think it’s something that has ever really benefited cinema,” he expressed. He believes that while improved cameras and software have democratized film-making, they’ve also led to an influx of poorly crafted films.

Josephina, who took the plunge into full-time producing in 2004, commented on her daring decision: “Every decision made for any of these movies (good or bad) was made together and I enjoyed contributing creatively, a chance I never had before just being in a crew.” She cherishes the creativity and decision-making freedom that her role as a producer affords.

HiFear_KeyArtWorking as a married couple on the set of Hi-Fear seemed natural for the duo. “We are on the same page from the get-go, so there’s no back and forth between us,” said Josephina. Brad’s reliance on Josephina’s inputs, and their shared vision for the movie contributed to a well-coordinated and harmonious work environment.

Death Factory, Brad’s top-grossing title for its distributor, owes its success to a fun and gory storyline, impressive special effects, and an iconic monster character. His belief in producing fan-driven content underpinned the movie’s success.

Josephina also touched upon her experience working with Romania’s largest film studios, Castel Film and Media Pro Pictures. She believes that these experiences shaped her approach to producing in the US, teaching her how to handle herself on a set and gain respect.

For Brad, who has written and directed over twenty feature films, the journey hasn’t been an easy one. However, he is firm on not repeating himself and strives to challenge himself creatively with each new project.

Hi-Fear stands as a testament to Brad and Josephina’s relentless passion for filmmaking and their commitment to challenging the norms of the horror genre. From ambitious illustrators to innovative filmmakers, the movie, much like its creators, explores the nature of fear and showcases the power of a well-told horror story. As the last film in the ‘Hi-‘ trilogy, it continues to scare, thrill and entertain viewers across the globe.

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