Blogs

The theme of sexual abuse and the shame felt by the characters runs rampant throughout Acolytes. What impressed me with its inclusion in the script is that it is dealt with so carefully that it never once teeters onto exploitation territory.

In a genre film, dealing with such a subject can be a tightrope balancing act. While rewriting the script, director John Hewitt drew from his own personal experiences: "I grew up a Catholic in Australia in the sixties, so I know a little bit about sexual abuse," says Hewitt. "So in a subtextual way that's what the film is really about. It's a generic chiller for a teen audience, but at its core is a very significant issue."

But Acolytes was a very different film when Hewitt came on board. "In the original draft of the script, the Gary Parker character was a school bully, but it wasn't significant enough for this sort of revenge. I thought: It's a little bit of bullying. Tough. Get over it. He doesn't have to die for that."

The type of sexual abuse depicted in this film is also unique; it isn't the fairy-tale-esque approach of some old man tempting children with candy, but of young boys being raped by someone within their age group. Male sexual abuse is further branded with a stigma of boys will be boys: "There's a huge amount of sexual abuse between young people," adds Hewitt. "It was going on when I was a kid, with kids being raped and abused by other kids who are generally older and were able to physically bully them, but it was sexual."  

By bringing to light a very troubling and real issue, Acolytes shows what can happen to two young men whose lives are destroyed by sexual abuse.

VIDEO: My interview with Jon Hewitt. Don't worry, it's not all that depressing -- we end the interview by talking about muscle cars.