KAILUA-KONA — Two decades after the original, the Big Island film-making duo, Cousins Brothers Productions, is serving up a reboot of its frightening, culturally intense hit, “Night Marchers.”
Just in time for Halloween.
The premiere of the independent film begins Friday at Regal Cinema theatres across the state, West Hawaii included.
If the title sounds familiar, the original was produced 20 years ago by 1989 Honokaa High School graduates and twin brothers, Blake and Brent Cousins. The release was scheduled for one week, but smashed expectations and last five weeks.
That success proved hard to live down. So the brothers didn’t.
The released a sequel a year after the original’s 2001 release and yet, fans still wanted more.
“It pretty much inspired us to make this movie,” Blake said, adding they’re optimistic for another extended theater run this time around.
The re-telling of the legend centers around Night Marchers, supernatural Hawaiian warriors who protect the King’s trails. The topic — the move was filmed on the Hamakua Coast — is distinctly Hawaiian. Sightings of the Night Marchers have been reported on each of the Hawaiian islands and the brothers developed their original story for the movie by compiling reports from law enforcement officials, member of local fire departments, and kupuna from all over the islands.
“I absolutely believe them,” Blake said of the stories they heard. “I don’t see why anyone would want to exaggerate anything like that.”
The reports included recurring testimony from residents who have seen the Night Marchers right in their own living rooms. The pounding of drums, and distant torches that come into focus as the Night Marchers appear — the legend has long sent chills through the people of Hawaii for generations.
While fans of the film will recognize the movie’s premise, it won’t be outright spoiled.
“It’s a retelling in a more conventional, up-to-date world,” Blake said.
Brent, the executive producer and director, said in a press release promoting the film that the brothers hope to achieve the same impact that the original film enjoyed 20 years ago.
“The new generation will experience the terror of the Night Marchers, and the message of respecting their culture and their aina,” he said.
Hawaii born and bred actors are part of the production, as well: Kealii Kanekoa, of Hilo, and Anuhea La. The production team shot the film over six to eight months last year. Besides North Hawaii, some scenes were recorded in LA, where the brothers, who live in Paauilo, spend a lot of time, having been independent filmmakers for 30 years.
The goal, the filmmakers said, is the same as it was 20 years ago: to produce feature length films in Hawaii that utilize the talent of the people of Hawaii and that entertain and celebrate Hawaii.
With the return of the Night Marchers, they’ve done just that. Again.
“We’re back to where we started 20 years ago,” Blake said.