Exclusive: Alexandre Aja talks Mirrors and Piranha 3D
The French splat packer on scares both supernatural and prehistoric.
Yeah, my goal was to bring the other Keifer back. To bring the Keifer we used to see in The Vanishing, Flatliners, The Lost Boys. Not the Keifer who became Jack Bauer. But at the same time it was interesting because Keifer is not an actor who makes it a composition. He's an actor with a personality of his own and every character he plays is a side of himself. When you spend time with him, as I did, you realise that he is the guy from Flatliners, he is Jack Bauer, he's all of them.
Were you surprised by what he brought to the material?
We met and felt a connection immediately and we made a deal almost on the spot which was that he was in charge of making that character believable and deep and making something scary and suspenseful. Together we'd make the best movie we possibly could.
You spoke about not wanting to get pigeonholed as a horror director, but you've stayed in the genre ever since High Tension. Why?
I love the genre. As an audience member I love to be scared. The only thing as a filmmaker I don't want to do is to repeat myself and so far I have the feeling that High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes and P2 are all completely different movies. Maybe I will reach a point where I've felt that I've explored all the subgenres within horror and from that point I will maybe look for something else, or some other kind of movie.
Right now I'm really attracted by stories and a lot of the stories that I'm interested in right now are dealing with a genre element.
Does it ever affect you, surrounding yourself with horrific images all the time?
For the first time on this film I started to scare myself with what I was writing. I'm not superstitious and I don't believe in the supernatural, really, in movies. While writing we did so much research in the history and legends and it started to make an affect.
What's the status on Piranha 3D?
We're preparing to shoot in Spring. The thing is it's such a difficult movie, not only because of the technicality of it and the CGI fish, but also because it all happens in a lake. We were supposed to start shooting now, but the longer to leave it the colder the water gets. The movie takes place during Spring Break and, of course, the studio wanted it ready for the summer, but if you've got 1000 people who need to get murdered in the water, you have to wait for the right temperature for the water, for the weather, for everything.
Most of the film takes place outside on location in the lake. It's all there, it's so simple. An earthquake releases prehistoric piranhas during Spring Break. All these drunk American kids being torn to shreds by crazy fish. You can't make something more different than Mirrors than this movie and I'm really excited about it because it's such a thrill ride. It's super-gore, super-action, it's going to be really amazing. I'm so excited about that project.
Do you embrace these challenges? Desert, then mirrors, now underwater with CGI fish in 3D...
I have a feeling that may be true because when I did High Tension we had only $2m, shot everything by night and it was a nightmare. I had a feeling it would be the most difficult movie I ever made. And then we made The Hills Have Eyes in the middle of the summer in the desert and after that I thought no-one could do anything more difficult. Then we spent 6 weeks in an underground parking garage for P2 and Mirrors was just something no-one can imagine because of all the technicalities. This is way more difficult and way more challenging than all the other movies put together. Maybe I'm looking forward to that - at the very least it'll keep me from falling asleep!