Alexandre Aja is back with a new movie that he wrote and produced
Alexandre Aja does violence like no other director working in film today. With such films as High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes, he has presented a world of carnage that isn't like any other that has appeared on the screen. In writing the film P2 (directed by friend Franck Khalfoun), Aja continues to put this world on the big screen.
In P2 it's Christmas Eve: a time for curling up by the fire with family and friends; a day when even the most voracious corporate climbers generally head home by dinner time. But not Angela. She's the last one left at the office, determined to close one more deal before the holiday. The long hours she keeps will have an impact, but not the kind she's been hoping for.
How do you go about writing the violence that is in a movie like P2? The way that you seem to get it on screen is different than anything I have ever seen.
Alexandre Aja: Yeah, that's the way we are writing scripts from High Tension to The Hills Have Eyes or P2 or Mirrors. What we are trying to do is to have an approach where it relies on one shot. In the writing, we never use in the writing any technical words. Just by the writing to be able to visualize what's live on screen. Violence is always about ideas. In The Hills Have Eyes, I think the idea of the breast feeding is actually on paper like it was on screen. It talks to your imagination.
On P2, without talking about it too much and giving up too much, it's a little bit the same. I think that when you form the idea of the violence you can see on paper already that it's going to be very shocking. As usual, it works better on the movie as well to keep that idea, I mean. Until now the actors have managed to get that kind of feeling out of the scene.
Horror movies with characters being tortured are pretty popular right now, are you doing certain things with this film to subvert that genre a little bit?
Alexandre Aja: Basically, the idea on P2 was not to do a movie about torturing or anything. It really was to stay on the side of Angela (Rachel Nichols). The idea was to do a first person... a subjective movie. Like a real survival approach to the idea of getting trapped in an underground parking garage. We can bring viewers with us on P2 and trap them inside and stay on their back. I don't like, so much, torture movies or the trend in cinema that we are witnessing in the last years. I really like where movies are following a point of view of like the lead character, it makes you wonder what you will do if you are in that situation. From the moment you start wondering what you will do you realize that you're not watching a movie anymore, that you're living a movie. The movie becomes like an experience. That's the approach I love to take when I'm making that kind of film.
Did that approach go into the scripting of P2? I only ask because you wrote it and didn't direct it? Did that change the logistics of the screenwriting process?
Alexandre Aja: Yeah, basically the real reason why I didn't want to direct the movie was because P2 was very close to High Tension. I didn't feel like repeating myself. At the same time I was so excited by that story and the subject of making one night of action in a parking garage, of a woman trying to survive and trying escape from something that we all fear. I really needed to make that movie. Producing it was a great solution.
So we came up with Franck and it was great because Franck, first of all, is a very close friend. It was a way for us to all make the movie together. Writing the script with Franck was like... we were sure that we put everything on the page. Then Franck followed what was on the page and that's the way we are working, even when we are writing out scripts. We try and get the vision exactly as we'll have it on screen. For me, making the movie, everything must be in the script before going on set.
In setting P2 on Christmas Eve was that a statement? Were you making the ultimate, anti-Holiday film?
Alexandre Aja: Christmas is a great date for many reasons. It's the only moment in the year where they really will close a parking garage for like 2 or 3 days in a row. It's a very important day for everyone. So everyone can rely on the idea of, "Wow, that's awful spending Christmas in that situation, instead of being with your family." I think it's very easy for everyone to rely on the idea. I work too late on Christmas Eve, I'm late for my Christmas party with my family and I'm going down, I'm the last car parked in the parking garage. Sh*t! My car doesn't work and doesn't start. I'm going to take a cab but I cannot take a cab and everything is against me. Suddenly you realize that everything isn't against me, there is someone against me. Somebody is maybe organizing everything to trap me in that parking garage for the night. Christmas Eve is a very quick and easy idea of understanding the situation.
Can you talk at all about the Piranha remake? Were you a fan of the original film?
Alexandre Aja: Basically, I like the original but the idea of the piranha is more interesting to me than the original movie. It's not a remake of Piranha that we are writing. We've been approached to really create a new Piranha movie. It's exactly like if you were approached by anyone to do a new shark movie. It won't be a remake of Jaws. Basically, the version that we are writing now is completely different from the Joe Dante and the James Cameron movie.
What about Mirrors?
Alexandre Aja: Basically, Mirrors... we are finishing it right now. We still have some scenes to shoot in New York and I am very excited about the movie. I think it's something really, really scary. Maybe some of the scariest stuff I've done on camera. I'm very excited because I think it's new. We have something special that you've never seen before. I hope that everyone who sees the movie, I hope it will change their way of watching themselves in the mirror. I think we have something on our hands that is very universal in the way that we all have a very different relationship with mirrors; our image and everything and I think that movie is really going to bring another twist to our relationship to the mirror.
P2 comes to theaters November 9 from Summit Entertainment.