What if Texas invaded Brooklyn to launch a modern day civil war? Co-directors Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott show us how it might unfold in the politically-charged action-thriller Bushwick.
Bushwick is the second feature from directing duo Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott, following their 2014 horror-comedy Cooties.
When a secessionist Texas invades the titular Brooklyn neighbourhood, Brittany Snow and Dave Bautista find themselves in the middle of a war zone and a fight for survival. Locals take up arms to defend themselves, only to be condemned for meeting violence with violence. Shot in long takes to create a sense of real-time immediacy, this relentless action-thriller is unquestionably topical, even though it was conceived some six years ago.
Some of the best genre movies have statements, whether it’s race or politics…
“We had actually thought of Bushwick before Cooties,” Cary Murnion tells STACK. “We were about to film a test scene for Bushwick when we got the call to come to LA and pitch Cooties, so we put Bushwick on hold.”
The secession of the American South in a modern day civil war is both a frightening and inspired concept, and one that may not be as far-fetched as you’d imagine.
“One of the initial inspirations [for Bushwick] came from Rick Perry, the former Governor of Texas, who made a joke – although I wouldn’t call it a joke – about Texas seceding from the United States,” explains Murnion. “We thought, what would happen, how would that transpire if people took that seriously?
“To make that happen, Texas would hire its own mercenary force – a private army to force the secession to happen. To do that they would invade some of the bigger cities across the United States – New York City, Washington D.C., Boston – so we took one small part of that big story to see how a group would react to that.”
The borough of Bushwick was chosen as the staging point for the invasion due to its melting pot of cultural diversity, says Murnion, who had lived in the area for five years.
“It’s a huge neighbourhood but not densely populated. So it makes sense that if you are going to invade New York City, you’re not going to go right into the heart of Manhattan – you’d set up outposts around the city. Strategically, Bushwick made really good sense for the army to do that.”
Jonathan Milott notes there is an interesting parallel in Texas invading New York in terms of the gentrification of the neighbourhood. “The cultural aspects of that invasion kind of mirrored the idea of gentrification, where you have the upper middle class Caucasians moving into more diverse neighbourhoods.”
While there is much to take away from Bushwick in terms of political and social commentary, Murnion says it was primarily conceived as action-thriller.
“But we wanted to have some political undertone there,” he adds. “Some of the best genre movies have statements, whether it’s race or politics, or even socio-economic issues. I think those are the strongest genre movies and something we thought was important, rather than it be some mindless action film.”
Given the events that have rocked the United States since the film’s completion, like the Charlottesville protests and Donald Trump’s election, would Bushwick be a different film if it were made today?
“We hope that it’s a movie that will be timeless,” offers Murnion. “We don’t want it to be something that is a Donald Trump movie. We thought of it six years ago and I think there will always be these issues in America, so I hope you can watch it in ten years time and still feel like there’s something relevant there.”