SDCC ’08: Catching Up with Alex Aja


On French horror, Mirrors and Piranha

Three weeks out from the release of Mirrors, French helmer Alexandre Aja is confessing some concerns. “I don’t feel like anyone is aware of the movie here,” he tells “We’re opening the week of Tropic Thunder, I hope people will realize we’re opening around that same time.” Then, with a smile, “I want to see Tropic Thunder though.”

Aja, making the press rounds at the San Diego Comic-Con, has stepped away from a horde of video cameras to small talk with us. Since I have already spoken to the director in-depth about Mirrors in the editing room I figure we can talk about other a variety of other topics, including Fox’s handling of his second American horror feature.

“It’s very strange, doing the marketing of our movie is so subjective,” Aja says. “I tried to put in as much input, but it’s their money so they’ll spend it the way they want. I’m just disappointed they haven’t shown the movie here [re: Comic-Con]. We finished it two weeks ago and I really wanted to come here and show it to everyone. I think in general, when they don’t show a movie, people think it’s bad. But that’s not the case, we just finished the movie.”

In fact, not only is the movie still wet, it most recently screened for critics in France. According to Aja, it received a warm reception. Surprising given the climate for horror in his home country. Since making his mark with High Tension, France has become a veritable spawning ground for hardcore genre fare in spite of the local reaction for that kind of entertainment. “I think I’ve seen almost everything,” Aja responds when we ask if he’s been keeping up to date on films like Inside and Frontiere(s). “I appreciate these films and I appreciate the fact they are trying, but I’m disappointed that the system is not changing in France. High Tension didn’t change anything and almost none of the films that followed were a success. In Spain, you make a horror film and you get the prize, you get all of the critics behind you. In France, you can do whatever you want with a genre movie and it’s put aside. I’m not sure it’s going change. I’m convinced there’s something cultural that’s blocking the system. That’s why all of filmmakers making genre films there are hoping they can get over here.”

One film he’s eager to see is Martyrs, Pascal Laugier’s intense film which – Aja reveals to us – stars his cousin, actress Morjana Alaoui.

As for his 2009 3-D endeavor, Dimension Films’ Piranha, Aja is heavy in prep with principal photography expected to begin this fall. If he has his way, he’ll be shooting on location on Lake Havasu where the film’s prehistoric piranha will wreak their havoc. Aja seems undaunted by the July 24, 2009 release date put upon him to have the film completed – even with the massive order of CGI underwater predators that will to be created. “I came up with the idea of doing it in 3-D and I want the film to open as fast as possible as the first 3-D movie.” (Sorry, Alex, My Bloody Valentine will have beaten you to the punch.) “I think this movie is so huge. It’s rated R and it’s an action-adventure that’s a perfect summer movie. The way I see the movie, the way I want to make the movie, I want it to be a big blockbuster.”

Source: Ryan Rotten